“You still want to go lots of places”: exploring walking interviews in research with older migrants

Lőrinc, Magdolna, Kilkey, Majella, Ryan, Louise and Tawodzera, Obert (2021) “You still want to go lots of places”: exploring walking interviews in research with older migrants. The Gerontologist, 62 (6). pp. 832-841. ISSN 1758-5341


Background and objectives
Walking interviews have become prevalent in social sciences, however, their use in research with older people is limited. This article offers a reflexive account of our ethical and methodological choices and practices while conducting walking interviews with older migrants, and considers the potential of this method in researching migrants’ aging in place.

Research design and methods
The study had a longitudinal, multi-sited (London and Yorkshire), qualitatively driven multi-method research design. In 2018-19, in-depth interviews were conducted with 45 older migrants originally from the Caribbean, Ireland and Poland; followed by walking interviews with a sub-sample of 9 participants 6-12 months later. The majority of participants were over 80 years old.

Our study demonstrated that walking interviews are a promising method to explore in-depth a variety of relevant issues including older migrants’ mobility, health and wellbeing; navigating places through everyday activities; interactions with local neighbourhoods over time, and the meanings associated with such experiences. Through direct exposure to the physicality of places, walking interviews can elicit rich and complex data that would be difficult to collect through other methods.

Discussion and implications
Conducting walking interviews with older migrants has unique thematic potential. However, a range of ethical and practical challenges need to be considered, including a risk to revealing participants’ identities and adopting an ethics-in-practice approach. The method has some limitations, especially with less mobile participants. Implications for researchers, policymakers and practitioners are suggested.

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