Communication is arguably the cornerstone on which any successful relationship, be it business or personal, is built. The importance of effective communication as a means of gathering information is universally acknowledged and a lot of research has been taken on the subject and numerous books are written to help people improve their skills to make them more effective in their communication efforts. In a bid to gather information, various strategies have been developed. Key among them is the use of interviews. There exist various factors that one should always consider when setting up an interview. It should be noted that the strategy adopted is especially significant since it may result in the success or failure of the communication efforts. In an interview, the interviewee forms an integral part and should therefore be given special consideration. In this paper, I shall discuss the various functions that each question in an interview aims at achieving. To this end, an analysis of a recently held interview shall be provided.
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Function analysis of the Interview questions
The interviewee reiterates a story told by his grandfather about a family that went out in search of a beaver. Never giving up, the family hunted the beavers for a long time until they eventually got one. On that day, the wife was nearly attacked by a mammoth as she returned home with the hunt. Even though the husband did not believe her, other members of the community attested to the truth behind the story. Storytelling plays an integral part of all communities. It is used as a tool through which lessons on morality, consequence, and culture are taught. As such, this story’s function is to reflect on the concept of structuralism as explained by Levi-Strauss, who theorizes that the purpose of a myth is to provide a logical model capable of overcoming a contradiction. In this story, the fact that the woman’s story is believed by members of the community regardless of the man’s disbelief makes it a myth.
Also, the story portrays the woman as a hero who leaves the village in search of food and never returns until she finds it. The community members who believe her story acts as mediators when the man disagrees with the truth behind the story told. As such, the man is colored as the villain since he tries to go against the beliefs of the community regarding this tale. These characters reflect on the sphere of action as theorized by Durkheim’s functionalism theory which asserts that individuals in a society have a strong desire to share common experiences, but a corporation with each other is not necessary.
On the same note, the story has all the characteristics of Malinowski’s functionalism theory. According to theorists, functionalism is based on human biology and psychology. He states that functionalism explores the human being and the functions of a society. In this regard, the theorist further contends that functionalism dwells on the seven needs of every individual. They are nutrition, reproduction, safety, comfort, relation, movement, and growth into the secondary needs of society. The truth behind these assertions is depicted in the structure and flow of the story. The family went hunting for food (“They traveled from stream to stream, from the river to river, leading a nomad’s life”: movement and nutrition) not only for themselves but also for other members of the community (growth into the secondary needs of society). The fact that the family members went hunting together is an indication of an existing relationship. When the woman is returning home she is confronted by a mammoth (fear causes body discomfort). As a result, she runs back to the camp (safety) where she narrates her experience to the community.
In the subsequent questions, the interviewee talks about his culture and tradition. To this end, he describes various cultural practices that are still being observed up to date. Besides, he further narrates legends that have similarities with those of other communities. For example, the interviewee describes the traditional food festival which is still honored today. In this regard, he explains some evident peculiarities regarding this celebration and explains why the Canadian version of this celebration is closely related to the European than the American version. This description shows functionalism in the sense that the celebration in Canada is more close to that of Europeans because the Europeans settled near Canada. As such, they developed mechanical solidarity as well as social solidarity and cohesion Durkheim. This is further explained by the fact that the human mind believes that working with others guarantees survival.
Further on, the interviewee talks about certain symbolic creatures that have shaped his culture. Examples include the beaver and the fur trout. The beliefs held by the interviewee regarding these creatures are perfect examples of functionalism as explained by Radcliffe. The theorist asserts that the existence of any particular thing is justified when it performs a certain function. The theories alternatively state that another analysis is hinged upon the fact that there is a historical explanation that describes how a particular social fact came into existence. This theory can therefore be used to back the interviewee’s assertions about the beavers and the existence of the fur trout in earlier days.
Functionalism can best be defined as the assertion that every item in folklore must have a function. There are three types of functionalism as proposed by various theorists. According to Radcliffe-Brown, functionalism refers to the social cohesion that is achieved through the shared mental structures of the “conscious collective”. In his point of view, cultural beliefs, societal rules, and activities should be graded about what they did the community as a whole. This assertion was based on the belief that cultural evolution was a result of similar cultural activities and characters that triggered an internal logic that enabled communities to move from one level of culture to the next. Evidence of this theory is depicted when the interviewee talks about musical similarities between his culture and that of the French. Not only does this show cultural evolution (the ability to tolerate the cultures of others), but it also proves Durkheim’s assertion that functionalism is about social solidarity and cohesion.
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As has been illustrated in this interview analysis, communication plays an integral role in the information gathering process. By deeply analyzing a conversation, one can be able to deduce the function of each sentence in a conversation. From this interview, the folklore told by the interviewee as well as the legends, cultural disparities, and similarities aimed at showing the structure and functions of different cultural aspects. Theories used to further our understanding of these matters have been effectively used to analyze the function of the interview. It would therefore be a worthwhile endeavor if we dedicate some time towards the dissemination of our conversations. Not only will this facilitate effective communication, but it will also help us understand the functions that certain information plays in our lives and towards our survival.