Rachele Bezzini

On Interviewing Partners in Mixed Couples Together: Performance, Meta-Communication and Positionality

Rachele Bezzini

Article information

Volume: XI Issue: 1
Rachele Bezzini
University of Sussex, UK


This paper is based on a qualitative study about the processes of boundary-making among Albanian-Italian and Albanian-Romanian couples in Italy. In particular, it focuses on the methodological challenges arisen during my fieldwork of interviewing mixed couples. Although joint couple interviews have rarely been considered as a technique per se, the paper shows how they actually represent something more than an interview format in between individual interviews and focus groups, precisely by virtue of the relationship between the two interviewees. In fact, joint couple interviews are characterised by three main dimensions: perfomance, meta-communication and positionality – which add essential meanings to the narratives themselves. Firstly, joint couple interviews provide observational data through the couples’ interactions; secondly, they constitute  an opportunity to display the couple/family history to a multiple audience (the researcher, the partner, the ‘witness’); thirdly, they need to be carefully considered at the intersection between participants’ and researcher’s positionalities.

Keywords: Joint Couple Interview, Migration Studies, Mixed Couples, Qualitative Methods, Research Encounters


Bjørnholt, M. and Farstad, D. (2012). “‘Am I rambling?’ On the advantages of interviewing  couples together”. Qualitative Research 14 (1): 3-19.

Edwards, R. and Caballero, C. (2008). “What’s in a name? An exploration of the significance of personal naming of ‘mixed’ children for parents from different racial, ethnic and faith backgrounds”. The Sociological Review 56 (1): 39-60.

Edwards, R., Caballero, C. and Puthussery, S. (2010). “Parenting children from ‘mixed’ racial, ethnic and faith backgrounds: typifications of difference and belonging.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 33(6): 949-967.

Enguix, B. (2014). “Negotiating the field: rethinking ethnographic authority, experience and the frontiers of research”. Qualitative Research 14(1): 79-94.

Goffman, E. (1959). The presentation of the self in the everyday life. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Heckmann, F. (2006). Integration and integration Policies. IMISCOE Network Feasibility Study, Final Paper. University of Bamberg, European Forum for Migration Studies.

Killian, K. (2001). “Crossing borders”. Journal of Feminist Family Therapy 13(1): 1-31.

King, R., Mai, N. (2009). “Italophilia meets Albanophobia: paradoxes of asymmetric assimilation and identity processes among Albanian immigrants in Italy”. Ethnic and Racial Studies 32(1): 117-138.

Kvale, S., Brinkmann, S. (2009). InterViews: learning the craft of qualitative research interviewing. Los Angeles: SAGE Publications.

Lévi-Strauss, C. (1950). Introduction à l’œuvre de Marcel Mauss. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

Luke, C., Luke, A. (1998). “Interracial families: difference within difference”. Ethnic and Racial Studies 21(4): 728-754.

Mai, N. (2010). “The politicisation of migrant minors: Italo-Romanian geopolitics and EU integration”. Area 42 (2): 181-189.

Marcus, G. (1995). “Ethnography in/of the world system: the emergence of multi-sited ethnography”. Annual Review of Anthropology 24: 95-117.

Moroşanu, L. (2015). “Researching coethnic migrants: privileges and puzzles of ‘insiderness’”. Forum: Qualitative Social Research 16(2).

Perlmutter, M., Hatfield, E. (1980). “Intimacy, intentional metacommunication and second order change”. The American Journal of Family Therapy 8(1): 17-23.

Ryan, L. (2015). “‘Inside’ and ‘outside’ of what or where? Researching migration through multi-positionalities”. Forum: Qualitative Social Research 16(2).

Sánchez-Ayala, L. (2012). “Interviewing techniques for migrant minority groups”. In Vargas-Silva, C. (ed.). Handbook of research methods in migration. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Wimmer, A. (2004). “Does ethnicity matter? Everyday group formation in three Swiss immigrant neighbourhoods”. Ethnic and Racial Studies 27(1): 1-36.