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Power Imbalance During the Interview

Mikecz (2012) stated that the power imbalance shifts back and forth in a somewhat nuanced way between researcher and subject. This is influenced by a number of factors; some of which can be controlled by the researcher and some not (Mikecz, 2012). In particular, Vogl (2013) argued that the power imbalance between researcher and child participant necessitates particular care on the part of the interviewer. The power shift is in the favor of the researcher, who has greater control (Vogl, 2013); therefore, one must take care to ensure that the participant feels free to speak.

A researcher should be concerned about a participant’s attempt to please the researcher (Anyan, 2013). This is a concern in most, if not all, studies and is of particular interest when a researcher is interviewing a participant who is in a subordinate position (Anyan, 2013). This is why the IRB may discourage students from conducting their studies in their workplaces (Coupal, 2005); there is always the potential that power dynamics will play an unfavorable part in the data collection process (Anyan, 2013; Schoorman & Bogotch, 2010). In point of fact, it can be better that one conducts their research at a site where one is unknown to the participants to avoid potential power imbalance.