• The use of sacred texts as tools to enhance social research interviews

      Zakher, Maged Sobhy Mokhtar (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2018-03)
      Background – Enhanced social research interviews seek to engage interviewees in extended conversation-like dialogues where they are empowered to produce output by discussing themes of relevance to them. Photos, videos, vignettes and other enhancing tools have been used before in social sciences research interviews to contextualise the interview interaction. Initial Assumption – Sacred texts (such as excerpts from the Bible and the Quran) enjoy some features that make them potential tools to enhance research interviews. This study set out to answer the Research Question: ‘What are the benefits and challenges of using sacred texts as tools to enhance social research interviews?’ Methodology – Selected Biblical and Quranic verses were used in three sets each, to start social discussions with fifteen Christian and thirteen Muslim participants, respectively, in semi-structured interviews. Findings – The findings of this empirical study show that using sacred texts was perceived favourably by the participants, enhanced the dynamics of the interviews and provided a platform to produce data that are rich, varied and nuanced. Conclusion – This research points out the usefulness of sacred texts – as enhancing tools – when used in social research interviews to produce natural conversations that, in turn, lead to rich, nuanced data. This suggests that sacred texts can be added to the qualitative research interview-enhancing toolbox especially with exploratory studies that are open for emerging themes during interview settings. Research areas where sacred texts can be used in interviews include: ethics, social relations, gender roles, psychology, moral choices, cultural studies and spirituality, among other social sciences disciplines. Researchers as well as participants will be expected to have a degree of familiarity with the sacred book or texts to make both interviewers and interviewees interested enough in discussing it in an open and respectful setting.