logomarca

interviewing elites

english >> research >> research tools >> interviewing elites

 

Selection of papers that discuss methodological problems in interviews with elites.

Note: The articles will open in PDF format. Get Adobe Acrobat Reader

________________________________________________________________________________________________

Aberbach, Joel D.; Rockman, Bert A. Conducting and Coding Elite InterviewsPS: Political Science and Politics, Vol. 35, No. 4. (Dec., 2002), pp. 673-676.

In real estate the maxim for picking a piece of property is “location, location, location.” In elite interviewing, as in social science generally, the maxim for the best way to design and conduct a study is “purpose, purpose, purpose.” It’s elementary that the primary question one must ask before designing a study is, “What do I want to learn?” Appropriate methods flow from the answer. Interviewing is often important if one needs to know what a set of people think, or how they interpret an event or series of events, or what they have done or are planning to do. (Interviews are not always necessary. Written records, for example, may be more than adequate.) In a case study, respondents are selected on the basis of what they might know to help the investigator fill in pieces of a puzzle or confirm the proper alignment of pieces already in place. If one aims to make inferences about a larger population, then one must draw a systematic sample. For some kinds of information, highly structured interviews using mainly or exclusively closeended questions may be an excellent way to proceed. If one needs to probe for information and to give respondents maximum flexibility in structuring their responses, then openended questions are the way to go.

Conducting and Coding Elite Interviews   Access at: observatory-elites.org

 

Alberti, Verena. A construção da grande siderurgia e o orgulho de ser brasileiro: entrevistas com pioneiros e construtores da CSN. Rio de Janeiro: CPDOC, 1999.

Este trabalho discute alguns aspectos que sobressaem de um conjunto de entrevistas de história oral realizadas pelo Centro de Pesquisa e Documentação de História Contemporânea do Brasil da Fundação Getulio Vargas (CPDOC-FGV) entre 1998 e 1999, com pioneiros e construtores da Companhia Siderúrgica Nacional (CSN), criada em 1941.2 Destacam-se, na avaliação do Brasil de então, a crença na construção de um país afinado com o progresso e a indiscutível capacidade intelectual do trabalhador brasileiro.

http://cpdoc.fgv.br/producao_intelectual/arq/864.pdf   Access at: CPDOC/FGV
Alberti, Entrevistas pioneiros CSN   Access at: observatory-elites.org

 

 

Alberti, Verena. “Idéias” e “fatos” na entrevista de Afonso Arinos de Mello Franco. In: ENTRE-VISTAS: abordagens e usos da história oral. / Marieta de Moraes Ferreira (Coordenação); Alzira Alves de Abreu… [et al]. Rio de Janeiro: Ed. Fundação Getulio Vargas, 1994. p.33-65.

A motivação que estaria na base da entrevista de Afonso Arinos deve ser procurada nos anos de 1982-1983, meados do governo de João Figueiredo (1979-1985), momento em que alguns diagnósticos políticos registravam uma certa inércia ou apatia que retardava o processo de democratização do país. A realização da entrevista nos idos de 1982-1983 obedece, a nosso ver, a uma certa vontade política de “sacudir” o país e suas elites para lembrar o caráter inevitável da democratização e a necessidade de se combater a letargia com propostas de ação consistentes. O depoimento de Afonso Arinos significava nesse contexto uma busca de entendimento no passado, e ao mesmo tempo uma revitalização da importância do político, daquilo que Afonso Arinos representava como parlamentar e liberal.

http://cpdoc.fgv.br/producao_intelectual/arq/193.pdf   Access at: CPDOC/FGV
Alberti Ideias e fatos   Access at: observatory-elites.org

 

Boucher, A; Mahboob, A & Dutcher L. Power and solidarity in elite interviews. A paper for the American Political Science Association General Meeting, Chicago 28 August – 1 September, 2013. 

Elite interviewing is a key qualitative research method in political science. Interviews are useful not only for the purposes of political biography or to ascertain the perspectives of those at the centre of the policy-making process, but also because they allow researchers to trace the policy process that underpins key political events. Yet, elite interviews invert much of what social scientists know about power in interviewing.

Power and solidarity   Access at: observatory-elites.org

 

Castro, Celso. Interviewing the Brazilian military: reflections on a research experience. In: INTERNATIONAL ORAL HISTORY CONFERENCE (11.: 2000: Istanbul, Turkey). XI International Oral History Conference. Istanbul, Turkey: International Oral History Association University, 2000. v.1. p.110-115.

My purpose is to present some reflections about my experience in interviewing Brazilian military officers. Despite the specificity of the Brazilian case, I trust that these observations may serve as a comparative reference for the study of military institutions in other contexts.

http://cpdoc.fgv.br/producao_intelectual/arq/229.pdf   Access at: CPDOC/FGV
Castro Interviewing the Brazilian military   Access at: observatory-elites.org

 

 

Gomes, Ângela de Castro. A guardiã da memória. Acervo – Revista do Arquivo Nacional. Rio de Janeiro, 1996, v.9, n.º 1/2, p. 17-30.

Não foi tarefa fácil entrevistar Alzira Vargas que, sistematicamente, recusava-se a debater temas que considerava pessoais, insistindo num relato onde o personagem principal era Getúlio Vargas e onde ela buscava inserir-se como um dentre os demais coadjuvantes. Apenas, como ela mesma passou a concordar, um coadjuvante especial não só por seus vínculos familiares, como principalmente porque – e ela compreendia bem – era sob sua ótica que os acontecimentos eram narrados, o que sem dúvida iria corrigir os inúmeros equívocos a respeito da biografia de Getúlio.

· Gomes, A guardiã da memória   Access at: observatory-elites.org
· texto em português   Access at: cpdoc.fgv.br

 

 

Herod, Andrew. Reflections on interviewing foreign elites: Praxis, positionality, validity, and the cult of the insider.Geoforum, 30.4: 313-327, 1999. [Special issue on “Networks, Cultures and Elite Research: The Economic Geographer as Situated Researcher”].

Using open-ended interviews to conduct research on foreign elites raises methodological questions which conducting research on non-foreign elites and foreign non-elites does not. In this paper I first reflect upon some of the practical issues I have encountered when conducting interviews with members of foreign elites. I then examine the issue of positionality to suggest that the dualism of “insider” knowledge and status versus “outsider” knowledge and status is not as stable as it is often assumed to be, and that it should not be presumed that an “insider” will necessarily produce “better” knowledge than will an “outsider” simply by dint of their positionality. Indeed, given that the interview process is about constructing social meaning – a process that involves both the researcher and the source – in many ways such a dualism is meaningless.

· http://www.ggy.uga.edu/people/faculty/aherod/pdf_files/second_round/ppv.pdf    Access at: http://www.ggy.uga.edu/
· Reflections on interviewing elites   Access at: observatory-elites.org

 

 

Kezar, Adrianna. Transformational Elite Interviews: Principles and ProblemsQualitative Inquiry, Volume 9 Number 3, 2003, pp. 395-415.

The purpose of this article is to relate feminist and narrative traditions with the elite interviewing method, an important missing link. The author describes the evolution of the elite interviewing tradition and reviews feminist interviewing and narrative inquiry as points of departure for rethinking this methodology. In the last section of the article, the author presents a set of principles for conducting transformational elite interviews and describes a set of problems or issues that researchers using this proposed approach might reflect on.

· feminist_narrative_interviewing   Access at: observatory-elites.org

 

 

Mikecz, Robert. Interviewing Elites: Addressing Methodological IssuesQualitative Inquiry, vol.  18: 482-493, July 2012

This article focuses on the methodological issues arising from interviewing elites, with an emphasis on gaining access, acquiring trust, and establishing rapport. I argue the central importance of preinterview preparation, which is essential to enhance the researcher’s knowledgeability. The success of interviewing elites hinges on the researcher’s knowledgeability of the interviewee’s life history and background. It enhances the researcher’s positionality and decreases the status imbalance between researcher and researched.

· Mickez, Addressing Methodological Issues   Access at: observatory-elites.org

 

 

Pinçon Michel; Pinçon-Charlot, Monique. Pratiques d’enquête dans l’aristocratie et la grande bourgeoisie : distance sociale et conditions spécifiques de l’entretien semi-directifGenèses, n. 3, 1991. pp. 120-133.

Vouloir analyser les difficultés de l’enquête sociologique dans les classes dominantes ne signifie pas que l’on ignore les difficultés propres à l’enquête dans les autres milieux sociaux. Chaque situation d’entretien engage dans une interrelation délicate la position sociale de l’un et de l’autre, de l’interviewé et de l’interviewer. Nous voudrions seulement essayer de dégager ce que ces difficultés peuvent avoir de spécifique dans le cas d’une étude sur les « hautes classes », et peut-être dans ce qui en constitue les fractions les mieux assurées de leur position et de la légitimité de celle-ci, à savoir l’aristocratie fortunée et la grande bourgeoisie ancienne.

· article en français Pinçon et Pinçon-Chralot   Access at: Persée
· Pratiques d’enquête dans l’aristocratie et la grande bourgeoisie   Access at: observatory-elites.org

 

 

Shih, Victor; Shan, Wei; Liu, Mingxing. The Central Committee Past and Present: A Method of Quantifying Elite Biographies. Unpublished paper.

What are the social characteristics and career trajectories of the Chinese political elite? Scholars of Chinese politics have provided many answers to this question for various periods in the CCP’s history. However, few have traced the evolving characteristics of the CCP elite through time. Using official biographies of Central Committee (CC) members, the authors constructed a quantitative database of every CC members since the First Party Congress which traces the bulk of their careers in so far as details are publicly available.

· shih_shan_liu_politicalelite_data08   Access at: observatory-elites.org

 

 

Tansey, Oisín. Process Tracing and Elite Interviewing: A Case for Non-probability SamplingPSPolitical Science and Politics, Volume 40, No.4, October 2007.

Research in qualitative methodology has increasingly focused on the benefits and practices of ‘within-case analysis’, with a particular focus on the process tracing method as a form of causal analysis. This article focuses on the relationship between process tracing and the role of elite interviewing as a means of data collection, and makes two central points about the relationship between these two aspects of comparative research.

· Tansey, Elite Interviewing   Access at: observatory-elites.org

 

 

Walford, Geoffrey.  Researching the powerful. British Educational Research Association online resource. Available on-line at [http://www.bera.ac.uk/files/2011/06/researching_the_powerful.pdf] (2011)

This resource provides an introduction to some of the issues involved in researching the powerful in education. It focuses on problems of access, different types of interviewing, interpretation of data generated through interviews and ethical issues.

· researching_the_powerful   Access at: observatory-elites.org

 

 

Welch, Catherine; Marschan-Piekkari, Rebecca; Penttinen, Heli; Tahvanainen, Marja. Interviewing Elites in International Organizations: A Balancing Act for the Researcher. Unpublished paper.

Most researchers in international business are likely to interact with elite interviewees at some stage of their research projects. The power of an elite interviewee stems from organizational hierarchy, corporate values and history, personal assets and degree of international exposure. However, handbooks on qualitative methodology do not address the ‘double trouble’ that most of us face: namely, the task of conducting an in-depth interview, while simultaneously balancing the power of an influential elite. In this paper, we therefore examine the specific challenges and rewards associated with elite interviewing before, during and after the interview.

· Interviewing elites   Access at: observatory-elites.org

Boucher, A; Mahboob, A & Dutcher L. Power and solidarity in elite interviews. A paper for the American Political Science Association General Meeting, Chicago 28 August – 1 September, 2013.