Through our consideration of local newspapers, scholarly readings, and continued contacts in Knox County, we have come to recognize the broad significance of family farming throughout the local community. Businesspeople, clergy, educators, politicians, and those in the media carry distinctive images of family farming that grow from their contact with farm life. In this assignment you will gather information through structured interviews so that we may develop a perspective on the ways family farming is viewed within this community.
Each student will conduct an interview with a Knox County resident who represents an important dimension of the local community. As a class we will identify the groups, institutions, and locations that mark the boundaries of community life, enabling us to select individuals representing a broad diversity of viewpoints. Together we will construct an interview schedule that will guide each interview, assuring the collection of comparable data that we can discuss later. You may want to modify this general outline of questions to meet your particular situation. Some questions may not apply to your subject's situation. Moreover, you may have topics of your own that you wish to pursue in addition to those identified by the class.
In order to conduct the interview, you must first identify and make contact with your subject. I or another class member may be able to suggest a particular individual to pursue. Otherwise, you will have to explore the community to find a suitable subject. In either case, you must start immediately to ensure that you can arrange a suitable interview date and time. Be sure to determine what information you need to convey to the potential subject before you make your call. Anticipate questions that the subject might have about your interest so that you can answer succinctly and completely. Be sure you get detailed directions to the site of the interview.
Our discussion of interviewing and Jackson's chapter in Fieldwork should prepare you for the interview process. Be sure to have a tape recorder, blank tape, and materials for taking notes when you go for the interview. Dress in a manner appropriate to the context and to your role as a professional.
You have two tasks upon the completion of your interview. First, write a report on the substance of the interview, your own thoughts regarding issues or questions that might have been stimulated by the experience, and your methodological assessment of the interview process. As always, write out extensive notes as soon as possible to capture the richness of the experience while it is still fresh in your mind. Your second task is to create a complete transcription of the interview. Be sure your transcript, like the interview tape itself, begins with a complete identification of the interview setting, date, and parties involved. You will turn in these two documents on computer files as well as hard copies. Title your report file with the type of group or institution you interviewed (e.g., CLERGY, ELKS, FOURH, etc.) and your three initials after the period. Your transcript file title should be the last name of your subject, followed by your initials.
Finally, send a card thanking your subject for his or her cooperation.