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How paradata can illuminate technical, social and professional role changes between the Poverty in the UK (1967/68) and Poverty and Social Exclusion in the UK (2012) surveys

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2457-2473
Number of pages17
JournalQuality and Quantity
Issue number6
Early online date29 Aug 2016
DateSubmitted - 2016
DateAccepted/In press - 16 Aug 2016
DateE-pub ahead of print - 29 Aug 2016
DatePublished (current) - Nov 2017


This article brings together analyses of the micro paradata ‘by-products’ from the 1967/1968 Poverty in the United Kingdom (PinUK) and 2012 Poverty and Social Exclusion in the UK (PSE) surveys to explore changes in the conditions of production over this 45 year period. We highlight technical, social and professional role continuities and changes, shaped by the institutionalisation of survey researchers, the professionalization of the field interviewer, and economisation. While there are similarities between the surveys in that field interviewers were and are at the bottom of the research hierarchy, we demonstrate an increasing segregation between the core research team and field interviewers. In PinUK the field interviewers are visible in the paper survey booklets; through their handwritten notes on codes and in written marginalia they can ‘talk’ to the central research team. In PSE they are absent from the computer mediated data, and from communication with the central team. We argue that, while there have been other benefits to field interviewers, their relational labour has become less visible in a shift from the exercise of observational judgement to an emphasis on standardisation. Yet, analyses of what field interviewers actually do show that they still need to deploy the same interpersonal skills and resourcefulness to secure and maintain interviews as they did 45 years previously.

    Research areas

  • Field interviewers, History of social surveys, Micro paradata, Peter Townsend, Poverty research

    Structured keywords

  • Bristol Poverty Institute

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    Licence: CC BY


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