Ten Years Later: Activists Re-interviewed
For his Master's thesis, Toni Malm (pictured) chose to combine new and archived data. He wanted to find out what life was like for people who had acted as environmental or animal rights activists ten years before. The activists had been originally interviewed in 2000-2001 by Ari Rasimus who had deposited the data at the Finnish Social Science Data Archive (FSD). Malm extended the data by interviewing the same people again, thus enabling comparison over time.
While Rasimus had studied activism from the point of view of society, Malm focused on the individual viewpoint, on activism as a personal choice and a way of life.
– My aim was to reach as many of the previous interviewees as possible, to try to chart activism experiences at the individual level and see what kind of changes there had been in the level of activism over ten years, Malm says.
All researchers leave their own footprints on interview data. When conducting the re-interviews, Malm concentrated on ensuring the comparability of data and guiding the discussion towards relevant themes.
– I studied the previous interviews carefully, seeking to get acquainted with Rasimus' way of asking questions. I tried to get an idea of what the core issues were. This helped me to focus my own interviews. My aim was to have both comparative and new information.
Ari Rasimus lent a hand to Malm by contacting the previous interviewees and asking if they consented to be interviewed again. Finding contact information after ten years proved challenging. In the end, six out of the original 12 interviewees consented.
Even though Malm describes his thesis process as rewarding, there were some challenges he had to face. One of them was analyzing someone else's interview data.
– One can see from transcriptions that Rasimus had understood what the interviewee had meant but I was not always sure I myself was able to, Toni Malm recollects.
When using both new and previously collected data, there may be problems of reconciling the two datasets. In spite of these challenges, Malm still thinks that the advantages of reusing archived data are far greater than the disadvantages.
From the beginning, Malm had the intention to archive his own data at the FSD, both in the name of reciprocity and to support open access. He asked for the participants' consent for the archiving at the interview stage.
– I would be pleased to see someone else benefiting from my data as Master's theses do not have a prominent role in science and are often forgotten, he says.
Malm had presumed that at least some of the interviewees would still be active in environmental or animal rights movements. However, it turned out that no-one was, even though the ideology and ideas continued to be relevant in their lives.
The data (available only in Finnish):
» FSD2371 Interviews of Finnish Activists 2000-2001
» FSD2632 Interviews of Former Finnish Activists 2010