Page 1

Qualitative Research http://qrj.sagepub.com

Studying power: qualitative methods and the global elite Joseph A. Conti and Moira O’Neil Qualitative Research 2007; 7; 63 DOI: 10.1177/1468794107071421 The online version of this article can be found at: http://qrj.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/7/1/63

Published by: http://www.sagepublications.com

Additional services and information for Qualitative Research can be found at: Email Alerts: http://qrj.sagepub.com/cgi/alerts Subscriptions: http://qrj.sagepub.com/subscriptions Reprints: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsReprints.nav Permissions: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav

Downloaded from http://qrj.sagepub.com by Juan Pardo on March 20, 2008 Š 2007 SAGE Publications. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.


A RT I C L E

Studying power: qualitative methods and the global elite

Q R

Qualitative Research Copyright © 2007 SAGE Publications (London, Thousand Oaks and New Delhi vol. 7(1) 63–82

JOSEPH A. CONTI AND MOIRA O’NEIL University of California, Santa Barbara

A B S T R A C T The qualitative study of global elites is a challenging task and in this article we demonstrate that the difficulties of elite research can be handled in a more transparent and productive manner by engaging feminist methodologies. Drawing on one author’s recent experiences in the field interviewing well-placed actors involved with the dispute settlement mechanism of the World Trade Organization, we argue that feminist methodologies allow the successful navigation of the authority relationship in the process of studying elites. Critical examination of researcher positionality and the micropolitics of the research encounter leads to a reconceptualization of the concept of ‘studying up’ as it obscures the complexities of the power relationships in both research and social life. We conclude with a call for deeper qualitative attention to global elites that is informed by feminist methodologies. KEYWORDS:

63

feminist methodology, global elite, studying up, World Trade

Organization

Introduction This article can be described as a methodological confession story in which we write openly about various methodological questions and hurdles that arise in attempting to study qualitatively those people who inhabit the highest strata of global power. Some of the difficulties related to studying elites are obvious and well documented in the literature on elite research – locating and funding travel to interview a hyper-mobile social group, gaining entrée into elite settings, modifying dress and appearance, and mastering specialized forms of knowledge in order to successfully complete interviews. Other issues were less expected – in particular, the strategic contest over authority during the research process and the feelings of despondency that resulted from being ‘talked down to’ by informants. These are significant methodological difficulties that have dramatic effects both on the manner in which research is practiced and the character of knowledge claims that it produces. DOI: 10.1177/1468794107071421 Downloaded from http://qrj.sagepub.com by Juan Pardo on March 20, 2008 © 2007 SAGE Publications. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.


64

Qualitative Research 7(1)

We draw on one author’s experience in the field interviewing well-placed actors involved with the dispute settlement mechanism of the World Trade Organization (WTO). After its first 10 years, the WTO continues to attract much interest, critique and controversy. The unprecedented sanctioning capacity of the WTO includes the jurisdiction to determine that national, state and local regulations are illegal, and the economic leverage to strongly encourage cooperation with its legal, proscriptions. Aside from military alliances, the WTO is one of the most powerful international agreements in existence – powerful enough to, at times, make even the most affluent nations adhere to its rules. While it has become the center-piece of a highly complex global neo-liberal trading system and is increasingly considered among business elites and policy makers as the primary forum for continuing the ‘development project’ (McMichael, 2004), the ways in which the WTO functions continue to be under-studied, even as its effects are intensely debated. As such, the WTO presents a unique opportunity to study a new and important class of elites with tremendous and far-reaching influence. The pool of informants included employees of the WTO Secretariat and member nation trade delegations, private attorneys and former WTO appellate jurists. Almost all are lawyers; some hold academic appointments as well. Some are current or former diplomats. While these persons are not the world’s richest, they occupy a critical site in the political and legal structures of the global economy. Through their decisions to litigate, the specific strategies and evidence that they deploy, and their skill and judgment, they influence how the WTO regulates inter-state relations. In turn, their actions influence the daily activities of millions of people around the globe. These global bureaucrats – global because of the transnational nature of their work and the breadth of their impact – are elites demanding scholarly attention. The qualitative study of these elites, however, was a challenging and at times daunting task. We demonstrate that the difficulties of elite research can be handled in a more transparent manner by engaging feminist methodologies. Feminist researchers insist on a rigorous, thorough and transparent examination of the role of the researcher in the production of knowledge and an analysis of ‘micropolitics of research’ at all stages of the process (Bhavnani, 1991). We demonstrate that the use of feminist methodologies leads to reconceptualization of how power operates in the research setting and, more specifically, leads to redefinition of the dominant conceptual tool used when studying elites: ‘studying up.’ We argue that researchers ought to adopt qualitative and feminist approaches to studying elites and demand more complex understandings of power, both in the research process and in the wider lens of scholarly inquiry. Q UA L I TAT I V E M E T H O D S A N D T H E E M P I R I CA L S T U DY O F E L I T E S

C. W. Mills (1956, 1957, 1963) provides the classic empirical works of studying elites in the sociological tradition. He describes the ‘power elite’ as those

Downloaded from http://qrj.sagepub.com by Juan Pardo on March 20, 2008 © 2007 SAGE Publications. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.


Conti and O’Neil: Studying power

people at the very top of American society, whose ‘facilities of power are so enormously enlarged and so decisively centralized ... that the powers of quite small groups of men, which we may call elites, are now of literally inhuman consequences’ (1963: 28). Building on Mills, Domhoff (1967, 1990) argues that it matters ‘who rules:’ that is, it matters which individuals occupy specific institutional locations and, in particular, the state. This is in contrast to approaches which privilege structural relationships between states and classes (Poulantzas, 2000; Skocpol, 1979) as well as to pluralist approaches that deny the efficacy, if not the existence, of powerful elite groups (Dahl, 1961). As such, qualitative methods are well suited to the Mills-Domhoff approach. Qualitative and ethnographic study of elites has been more common in the anthropological tradition which embraced a broader definition of elites in a variety of social contexts and is more focused on elite culture and subjectivity. Laura Nader’s (1972) call to ‘reinvent anthropology’ by ‘studying up’ echoed Mills when she wrote: ‘The study of man [sic] is confronted with an unprecedented situation: never before have so few, by their actions and inactions, had the power of life and death over so many members of the species’ (p. 284). Gendered language aside, the call to ‘study up’ generated new ethnographies of organizations and work as well as qualitative interview studies that focused on elites (Forsythe, 2001; Hertz and Imber, 1995; Jackall, 1988; Schwartzman, 1993). The call to ‘study up’ has been reinvigorated by globalization (see, for example, Bonacich and Appelbaum, 2000; Burawoy, 2000; Dezalay and Garth, 1996, 2002; Holmes and Marcus, 2005; Sklair, 2001). The qualitative study of global elites, however, creates new methodological difficulties for researchers, as well as posing new questions about how elites can and should be studied. What are the methodological and epistemological issues when studying the powerful in this age of globalization? This question takes us to the central conundrums of studying global power and also to a better way of analyzing that power with feminist methodologies. The challenges of studying global elites heighten demands for transparency in the research process – a demand most fully considered in feminist meditations on research. F E M I N I S T M E T H O D O L O G Y A N D S T U DY I N G P OW E R

Feminist methodologies provide valuable insights that are crucial in the study of global power. In one of the classic statements of feminist methodologies, Sandra Harding (1987) argues that feminist methodology is a theory of research rather than a specific method or technique for gathering information. Harding establishes three central features of a feminist methodology – it centers women’s experiences, produces research for women and incorporates reflexivity into the process of knowledge production. Reinharz and Davidman (1992), on the other hand, recognized research methods as feminist if they were carried out by selfidentified feminists, published in journal articles and/or books that identified as feminist, or if the research was conducted in a feminist organization. Despite the clues provided by these authors, what constitutes feminist methods

Downloaded from http://qrj.sagepub.com by Juan Pardo on March 20, 2008 © 2007 SAGE Publications. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.

65


66

Qualitative Research 7(1)

remains debated (see, for example, Bloom, 1998; Dankoski, 2000; DeVault, 1996; Naples, 2003). There are, however, two central motifs that can be gleaned from the diverse literature on feminist research that are both crucial to studying elites and not as well developed in the non-feminist literature: researcher accountability to knowledge claims and critical examination of the micropolitics of research. Feminist methodologies discount notions of an objective observer whose voice is absent and whose position is not made central to all aspects of the research process (Collins, 2000; Haraway, 1988, 2004; Harding, 1987, 1991; Harding and Hintikka, 2003; Hartsock, 1983). Harding (1987) explains: The best feminist analysis goes beyond these innovations in subject matter in a crucial way: it insists that the inquirer her/himself be placed in the same critical plane as the subject matter, thereby recovering the entire research process for scrutiny in the results of the research. That is ... the researcher her/himself must be placed within the frame of the picture that she/he attempts to paint. (p. 9)

Haraway’s (1988) definition of feminist objectivity similarly demands attention to the positionality of the researcher. Feminist objectivity ‘is about limited location and situated knowledge, not about transcendence and splitting of subject and object. It allows us to become answerable for what we learn to see’ (p. 254) – that is, accountability means that ‘analyses cannot be complicit with dominant representations which reinscribe inequalities’ and that the researcher must be accountable for their knowledge claims (Bhavnani, 1994: 29). Researchers must strive to understand both the complex subjectivities and social locations of themselves and interviewees in the research process. This understanding, in turn, must underpin the representations of interviewees and knowledge claims in the documentation of the research. Similar to feminist researchers, non-feminist scholars who study elites argue that this type of research requires that researchers take into account their own subject positions. George Marcus (1983), for example, claims that elite theory and research, more than any other tradition in the social sciences, is shaped by the political outlook and ideological position of the researcher within the scholarly community. He argues that the political stance of the researcher must be acknowledged and managed such that it avoids overshadowing the empirical claims. In contrast, for feminist researchers, this transparency in the positionality of the researcher leads to a realization that all knowledge is partial and, to use Donna Haraway’s term, ‘situated.’ Feminist researchers argue, unlike Marcus, that the empirical claims are not diminished by the normative stance of the researcher so long as she is ‘answerable for what she learns to see.’ Feminist researchers also focus on and make central the complex workings of power in the research process. Feminist interventions into social science were borne out of the absence and exploitation of women in social scientific research and a political desire to expose, critique and challenge social inequality. The attention to power in the social world encompassed all arenas – even Downloaded from http://qrj.sagepub.com by Juan Pardo on March 20, 2008 © 2007 SAGE Publications. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.


Conti and O’Neil: Studying power

the research process itself. Nancy Naples (2003) begins her treatise on feminist methods with the following question: ‘How does a researcher negotiate the power imbalance between the researcher and the researched?’ (p. 3). Bhavnani (1994) asserts that part of a feminist research agenda is serious acknowledgement, transparency and, more importantly, analysis of the micropolitics of research projects. Because of the potential impact of power – both that of the researcher and their informants – analysis of the micropolitics of the research process is not simply an afterthought but central to the documentation and dissemination of the research. Several non-feminist researchers consider the power dynamic in the research process when they note that gaining access to elite settings and breaking through networks of gatekeepers can be very difficult (Fitz and Halpin, 1994; Hertz and Imber, 1995; Marcus, 1983; Odendahl and Shaw, 2002). Indeed, the manner by which contacts are made is in itself an effect of elite power. Upon gaining access to such settings, researchers who have successfully studied elites describe how the interviews are often shaped by the interviewees’ sense of authority and, in response, how they devise strategies for mitigating that authority (Fitz and Halpin, 1994; Hirsch, 1995; Odendahl and Shaw, 2002). Feminist research takes the examination of power in the research process a step further by arguing that the power dynamic between the researcher and elite informant not only shapes the interview process but defines how knowledge is created – that is, the relationship between power, epistemology and methodology is transparent and made explicit in feminist research projects. Employing these central techniques of feminist methodologies – a critical examination of Joe’s (Conti – joint author) position in the interview process, of how power operates in interviews, and of how power shapes what we are able to learn – lead us to question the dominant terminology used to define the power relationship between researcher and researched in the study of elites: studying or researching ‘up’ (Nader, 1972, 1977; Walford, 1994). There have been significant theoretical and empirical gains in the study of power that are not adequately reflected when the power relationship in the research process is theorized as up or down (see, for example, Foucault, 1977; Gordon, 1997; Gramsci, 1992; Lukes, 2005). Conceptualizing power as simply hierarchical and rigidly determined by various systems of inequality in which people are objectively placed does not reveal the way that these systems are interlocking, nonadditive and often contradictory. The reification of sociological categories, such as race, class or gender, as discreet realms of social relations subsequently permits our ranking of individuals on those scales and furthers the false assumption that we can identify degrees of power as a stable function of such ranking. We argue instead that power struggles ‘congeal’ in specific social practices and become institutionalized as the settings in which individual subjects are located and exercise their agency. Diffuse power relations become organized into reproducible, hegemonic networks of power (which can then be mistaken as stable possessions of elites by scholars) (Domhoff, 1990; Mann, 1986). Downloaded from http://qrj.sagepub.com by Juan Pardo on March 20, 2008 © 2007 SAGE Publications. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.

67


68

Qualitative Research 7(1)

Understanding power not as an intrinsic property of an individual but as flowing from complex relationships between individuals, organizations and institutions has significant methodological impact for those studying power. Clearly, some individuals are embedded in social contexts that enable power to flow through them along the lines described by C. W. Mills: the decisions of the power elite are of disproportionate impact compared to non-elites. We argue, however, that close attention to the power dynamic in the interview highlights both the limits and possibilities of the ‘power’ of both the elite and the researcher. Feminist meditations on the research process provide the conceptual space for these critical reflections on power in research. Are the methods used to study elites different or more difficult than studying those people who are excluded from the institutional and personal networks of power? We argue yes and no; studying those in positions of power invokes similar types of methodological problems as studying those excluded from power networks: problems of access, problems of authority in the interview setting, problems related to language, style and cultural capital. When studying elite power, these methodological problems take on different, difficult dimensions and pose new problems for conducting research. In the following section, Joe recounts his ‘tales of the field’ conducting interviews with wellplaced actors involved in the WTO dispute settlement process (Van Maanen, 1988). We begin with a brief summary of his project and how he came to see qualitative methods as necessary. Then we characterize the power relationship in the interview, describe strategies to address that dynamic, and suggest how attention to power and social position affects the knowledge gained from the research.

Tales of the field I became interested in how the WTO operated during the lead-up to the protests at the 1999 ministerial meeting held in Seattle, Washington. Working with a non-profit organization writing short, activist-oriented articles about the Seattle meetings, I became dissatisfied with what I considered, with much hubris, the low level of understanding among progressive political groups of how the organization operated in practice. I felt this was a political liability for those wanting an alternative to corporate-led, neoliberal globalization. Over the next few years this interest developed into a full-blown research project. I designed my project as an exposé on power in the legal architecture of the global economy by evaluating how the WTO dispute settlement system is affected by inequalities between member nations. In particular, I wanted to know if rich nations held advantages such that they fared better than less affluent nations. An initial statistical analysis of WTO dispute case outcomes, however, highlighted the limitations of that approach for evaluating deeply institutionalized power inequalities. As an illustration, nearly 40 percent of

Downloaded from http://qrj.sagepub.com by Juan Pardo on March 20, 2008 © 2007 SAGE Publications. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.


Conti and O’Neil: Studying power

WTO cases between 1995 and 2000 were resolved informally or otherwise abandoned. First, I hypothesized that this outcome was the product of aggressive litigation strategies – an orientation towards ‘winning’ a case in the dispute – that sought to cultivate ‘dispute fatigue’ in poorer member nations without the resources for complicated and protracted litigation. Alternatively, this outcome could stem from dispute settlement procedures that encourage diplomatic compromise – a more moderate orientation towards ‘settlement’ of the case in dispute. The data on outcomes were fundamentally unable to address this question. The key difference between the two theories was an orientation or an attitude of WTO members about the process of dispute settlement. The outcome variable could not speak to questions of intentionality or goals but only to patterns which aggregate and flatten the human activity involved in producing the events subsequently coded as ‘outcome.’ Resolving this question required ascertaining the attitudes of the people making decisions as to whether and how they address disputes over trade issues. I needed to speak to the people involved to understand why they chose specific litigation strategies. After being awarded a research grant, I began an expansive travel schedule to interview WTO jurists and appellate jurists, WTO legal staff, representatives of different national trade delegations, private practice WTO lawyers, former negotiators of the WTO treaty text, academic observers and non-governmental observers of the WTO. Drawing on three contacts obtained through personal networks, I found the rest of the sample through purposive ‘snowball’ sampling and by directly contacting trade ministries. All of the interviews were conducted in English although many respondents spoke English as a second or third language. The interviews covered a number of topics including: strategies for initiating disputes, strategies for responding to complaints, the politics of retaliation, the organization of national trade bureaucracies, personal relationships between national delegates, the character of WTO legal culture, the role of private law firms, the fairness of the dispute system to developing countries and the international politics of legal disputing, as well as the dispute case histories of particular member nations. While I submitted my project for a human subjects’ evaluation, I was exempted from the more rigorous requirements of protecting my ‘subjects.’ The elite status of my interview sample removed institutional requirements for ensuring confidentiality. Neither did any of the organizations in which my informants were employed require formal vetting of my project or agreement requiring confidentiality. Agreements on confidentiality were negotiated in an ad hoc fashion at the beginning of each interview and, as a result, I have removed identifying information about the interviewees. P OW E R A N D AU T H O R I T Y I N T H E R E S E A RC H P RO C E S S

The route between identifying a potential informant and actually beginning an interview established the initial power relationship between me and the informant. As Odendahl and Shaw (2002) noted, access to elites can be difficult

Downloaded from http://qrj.sagepub.com by Juan Pardo on March 20, 2008 © 2007 SAGE Publications. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.

69


70

Qualitative Research 7(1)

to obtain and ‘typically requires extensive preparation, homework, creativity on the part of the researcher, as well as the right credentials and contacts,’ not to mention a little luck (p. 306). The difficulty I had making appointments confirmed their observation. While I used personal networks to generate initial interviews and some subsequent interviews were obtained through referrals, a number were generated through cold-calling trade missions and other government agencies. I began my search for interview contacts by faxing a letter of introduction and request for interviews to numerous trade ministries. I received no response from any of the faxes. Emails were similarly ignored. I managed to make some tentative appointments over the phone (‘call me again when you get into town’) but the cost of international calls and my own limited language skills placed constraints on using the phone to make contacts. More than a few attempts at calling ended in voicemail boxes with no return call. While most emails were ignored, one exchange with a former high ranking government trade official stands out. After generous responses to my questions, the email exchange ended even though he had offered assistance in referring me to other people. He did not respond to subsequent emails. And in an even more humbling instance attempting to solicit an interview, I was denied the interview and told to call back when I ‘had better questions.’ My attempts at contacting potential interviewees highlight the initial authority relationship between me and my desired subjects. For instance, the email exchange left me wondering whether I had somehow insulted him or whether he had come to the conclusion that my inquiries were a waste of time. Perhaps he would not recommend me to his colleagues out of some sense that I was confused or otherwise sub-par. This feeling of inadequacy became recurring as I faced, in a variety of settings, the glare of my respondent’s gaze that questioned my legitimacy. I took steps to avoid these feelings and eventually was able to get informants to talk with me about how they do their work. Throughout the processes of arranging and conducting interviews, a subtle struggle played out between me and my interviewees. Prior to each interview I prepared a set of questions as discussion prompts. As Hertz and Imber (1995) suggest, a semi-structured interview seemed most appropriate not only to focus their responses on the specific topics of interest but also to accommodate the short amount of time offered to me for the interview. After shaking my hand, one government official began our interview with, ‘What can I tell you in 45 minutes?’ The respondent began our interview and took control of its duration. Even still, the appropriateness of the questions that I asked was not given; he retained the authority to judge my questions. I described my project and listed a number of topics that I was interested in talking about. His first response was that I had a very broad topic. In return, I offered a more pointed question about what kind of work his office does in relation to the WTO: Joe: R:

Ok ... so maybe we can start there, with the … So, well that’s a focused question.

Downloaded from http://qrj.sagepub.com by Juan Pardo on March 20, 2008 © 2007 SAGE Publications. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.


Conti and O’Neil: Studying power

The respondent shaped the types of questions that were appropriate for his answers. I left the interview feeling embattled and insecure about the worthiness of my topic. In another similar instance, instead of an answer to my question about the responsibilities of the informant’s job, she asked, ‘So, this is your PhD?’ I was forced to wonder, no doubt defensively, ‘Aren’t these questions good enough for a PhD?’ The issue of limited time available for interviews was a recurring problem. In at least one instance, I was denied an interview based on the ‘lack of time.’ In other instances, interviews were kept far shorter than I would have desired. Additionally, my interview sample was largely composed of attorneys who are paid by the hour. After concluding an hour and a half interview with a partner in one of the world’s top 10 largest law firms, the friend who had arranged the interview remarked, ‘Wow, you got a thousand dollars worth of his time!’ Lawyers tend to view time as money because it is standard practice to bill by the hour. Purchasing such expensive time for an interview was clearly out of the question for me so I was dependent upon the ‘donation’ of time from my subjects. Interviewing legal specialists contributed to the character of the power dynamic in the interview in other ways. These attorneys are hired in their professional capacities to provide answers and sound legal advice and are paid to be authorities in their areas of practice. As interviewers, we have been trained to let our subjects be the authority, to cultivate a sense of equality within the research setting such that the interviewees will be honest and forthcoming (Hermanowicz, 2002). In my experience, there was no ‘letting’ involved; my ‘subjects’ were quite confident in their position of authority and would not readily grant it to me. The interviewees asserted authority through the context that they established for the interview. I always interviewed them in their offices and they generally sat behind their desks (the exceptions are two when we both adjourned to a sitting area). A number of interviewees refused to be recorded. The interviews were often interrupted or suspended as other issues and events competed for their attention. Many of these interruptions are endemic to busy offices. For example, nearing the end of one interview, the respondent’s superior interrupted to chastise him for ignoring his duties during the interview. I was denied basic interactional courtesies – such as saying ‘excuse me’ when entering a closed door unannounced and offering an introduction. This interruption abruptly ended the interview and the informant remarked: R: Joe:

yeah. It’s my boss. Ok, well uh, I really appreciate your time.

This example hints at the constraints placed on this particular elite by the hierarchical organization of the government agency in which he is employed. He may be a central figure in the litigation of disputes for his country at the WTO, but he still has a boss.

Downloaded from http://qrj.sagepub.com by Juan Pardo on March 20, 2008 © 2007 SAGE Publications. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.

71


72

Qualitative Research 7(1)

In other more common instances, the respondent himself would interrupt me with an addendum to his previous reply. Here the interruptions shift from being symptoms of busy offices to being indications of the respondent’s sense of prerogative: R:

Joe: R:

You know, if you look at um, I be-, I’m not sure that there’s any government now which is not hiring or benefiting in some way from outside legal council in the context of WTO disputes. Really. So, I was under the impression – Now, often you know, they ask, you know the government may be asking the law firm for, or working through a trade association and asking law firm for a specific, for advice on specific issues, or specific dimension of the complaint, or something like that.

In a similar vein, this respondent had his own agenda for what he wanted to cover during the interview: Joe: R: Joe: R: Joe:

R: Joe: R: Joe: R: Joe: R: Joe: R:

Uh, you mentioned that um, the personal relationships mm-hm, w- you mentioned were very important in the negotiations. mm-hm, and that someone suggested those negotiations that- those personal relationships changed, um, rel- perhaps there’s less trust now, than there used to be. Um, I have two questions. One is, why- why is there less trust, mm-hm, And the other is, how does that impact um, the [Dispute Settlement Body], mm-hm because the [Dispute Settlement Body] is- while it’s more about law, and litigation mm-hm it still is a kind of negotiation, mm-hm, mm-hm, mm-hm. So, let me finish, track 1 and track 2. Oh, oh, I’m sorry. No, no, no. Because- because the answer will be related into that.

Despite his insistence that his multi-‘tracked’ answer would eventually address the questions that I posed, they never did. My apology offered for my interruption of his protracted answer is indicative of the authority relationship in this interview: he was providing answers and my questions were, to some degree, secondary. Informants also ‘multi-tasked’ or did other things during the interview that added another dimension to the authority relationship. For instance, one respondent took a call while I waited in front of him:

Downloaded from http://qrj.sagepub.com by Juan Pardo on March 20, 2008 © 2007 SAGE Publications. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.


Conti and O’Neil: Studying power They wanted to give the U.S. ((-phone rings-)) a solution which could be done by the White House itself. ((pause)). Hello. Hello Sophia, how are, fine thank you. How’s your back? ((pause)) Ha ha ha. (inaudible) By god! (inaudible). I don’t think so, not that I, since I am from [my home country], I can’t find, I can’t, I won’t like some criticism of your guys, just that, ((laughs)) it’s just that the moment you told me it’s a teacher who’s telling you, I’m sure that uh….

At this point, I turned off the tape recorder and waited. I was late for another interview yet could not just leave. On another occasion, the ‘multi-tasking’ was more disconcerting as his behavior demonstrated a disregard of decorum that might be extended to a person of similar or higher social status. In my field notes I wrote: He also had the compulsive habit of wrapping his right hand around the tip of his nose so as to disguise – so it appeared to me – the insertion of this thumb into his nostril to clear some offending blockage. Later I shook that hand.

The persistent questioning of my legitimacy, the difficulties pinning informants down for an interview, frequent interruption and disregard took its toll on my self-esteem. Casper (1997) writes about her feelings of outrage stemming from interviewing a doctor who read his mail during the interview. In contrast, my experience interviewing elites produced feelings of self-doubt and despondency. Preparing for interviews and even sending letters soliciting potential informants became an incredible burden as I continually had to overcome feelings of inadequacy and misdirection. S T R AT E G I E S TO D I F F U S E AU T H O R I T Y

Eventually I devised a set of strategies for dealing with the dismissiveness of my respondents and my own insecurities, especially when recruiting interviewees and beginning interviews. These altered the authority relationship in the interview at least enough to allow the completion of the interview and, at times, to produce significant sociological insight. This partly involved strategic dress and presentation of self. At considerable expense, I upgraded my wardrobe to include suits and ties of a quality exceeding that required for academic conferences. I also utilized self-effacing humor and jokes about my youth. For instance, when I first met a respondent in person I would offer him my business card and remark, ‘now you and my mother have one.’ This served to emphasize my junior status and marked my deference to them. Another component centered on describing myself and my project as explicitly sociological and as distinct from how legal or international relations scholars approach studying the WTO. This tactic of invoking disciplinary distinctions between relatively legitimate modes of knowledge seemed to offer a way of diffusing the expectations of interviewees as to the content of my questions. In some cases, I believe that the respondents took enjoyment in trying on their ‘sociological hat’ (or at least what they imagined to be a sociological perspective) and even recognized their own use of sociological knowledge in their daily work at the WTO:

Downloaded from http://qrj.sagepub.com by Juan Pardo on March 20, 2008 © 2007 SAGE Publications. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.

73


74

Qualitative Research 7(1)

R:

Joe: R:

I think that the importance of of of this is that, well, I don’t know anything about sociology, but, in my perspective, the intra-personal relationship among the negotiator mm hm. is very important for negotiations. I was told by an, uh, by uh, by an old negotiator, that there are too many differences between the current negotiators, and the old-times negotiators; and of course, we always doubt old-time comments, no? But, I think- this is- this is important, thithis guy was saying, that, before there was more trustful relationship, among the- the Geneva based officials.

In another example, a representative of a Southern nation considers why his government, to his disappointment, always complies with WTO rulings: Yeah, I mean, I’m still studying and, uh, since you are researching and you are Sociologist I thought I could, maybe, read your dissertation later and find where my stream of thoughts takes a more logical and, uh, involved study of this issue, because I do it, as a-, when- where- when I get time, I don’t have, uh, I mean I don’t have, I don’t work full-time on this kind of a fascinating issue. I cannot. But, I, uh, actually disappointed, frankly, that, uh, we did not look at these options.

While discussing what a sociologist might be interested in brings them into a realm that they are somewhat less sure of, it did not completely neutralize the authority relationship in the interview. For instance, after telling a respondent that I was a sociologist intent on understanding the ‘social world’ of the WTO, the respondent challenged the sociological character of a question, determining that it was ‘not a sociology question.’ Similarly, feminist geographer Kim England (2002) in her study of female bank managers noted that her interview subjects felt entitled to define what constitutes a ‘geography question.’ Joe:

R:

The question is, is the jurisprudence of the WTO advanced enough or developed enough that you sort of get a sense of how it will play, a case may play out? Or when it’s better to say, not get involved or settle early, and those sorts of things? Well, that’s not a sociology question, you are in my area. Ha ha ha.

On other occasions the invocation of sociology had the unanticipated and undesired effect of amplifying the perception that I might be a threat. The ongoing wake of the 1999 Seattle protests and their continuation in Cancun seemed to have induced a kind of defensiveness over what the WTO does and how it does it. On a few occasions and without any prodding from me, those protests were brought up by my subjects, I believe, as a way to gauge my biases and motivations for conducting this research. In each of these instances, I responded in such a way as to downplay my own political identity:

Downloaded from http://qrj.sagepub.com by Juan Pardo on March 20, 2008 © 2007 SAGE Publications. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.


Conti and O’Neil: Studying power

Joe: R: Joe: R: Joe: R: Joe:

Um, being on a college campus, there’s a lot of, uh, there’s a lot of uh, I guess misdirected understandings of uh Right. WTO. So, So, uh, yeah, ((laughs)) An- and that I mean, you know, and honestly that’s probably the reason that I yeah got into this, cuz I didn’t understand a lot of the arguments that were being made.

By referencing ‘college campuses’ I positioned myself towards the center of the political spectrum and distinct from anti-WTO protestors. Like Walford (1994), I feared that an honest display of my politics could lead to an early ending of the interview if not provoking defensiveness in the respondent throughout. I attempted to contain perception of me as a threat to the workings of the WTO and in the process subtly manipulated the interviewee. This political identity management had, like the strategic use of sociological knowledge, particular effects on the knowledge claims the interviews produced. Putting the interviewees at ease about my political motivations resulted in a deeper understanding of power in the WTO than could have been achieved through a direct political confrontation. I M P L I CAT I O N S O F S T R AT E G I C I N T E RV E N T I O N I N T H E P OW E R R E L AT I O N S H I P I N T H E I N T E RV I E W

Informants responded to my display of sociology as a form of legitimate knowledge which permitted new perspectives on the WTO and the informants themselves. Sometimes the informants articulated their own sense of what might be sociological about their work. For instance, one respondent discussed the dispute resolution process as an inter-personal negotiation involving conflicts in personalities. In the following passage, he describes the process as being like a ‘soap opera’ involving some degree of ‘schizophrenia’ or insanity: R:

Joe: R: Joe: R: Joe:

uh-huh. So, going to that way, all the people the same people ... with which the ... issues, so you see them in very va- in a variety of uh, b- scenarios. So it is like, like a soap opera. ((laughs)) and a little bit of schizophrenia ((laughs)) because, you have, you’re an ally of somebody, or- you have to work together as a team- on a team basis with somebody, mm-hm

Downloaded from http://qrj.sagepub.com by Juan Pardo on March 20, 2008 © 2007 SAGE Publications. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.

75


76

Qualitative Research 7(1)

R:

Joe: R:

and then sometimes you’re against this person in some- some other cases, now, so depending on th- the structure …. Eh-, once I’m an active member, and I’m demanding you to do something, and then you’re demanding me to do the same thing in another case, mm-hm, So, the aggressive I am, will give you enough information as to be aggressive to me; or this skillful am I, or the technical th- the high tech, uh, am I, and on on legal reasoning, the same legal reasoning you- you can use exactly legal reasoning against me in in one year or something like that.

The respondent described a non-rationalized process where formal legal and political ‘national interests’ are intersected by personality, education and training. Another interviewee recounted how he frequently bumped into members of other trade delegations in the halls or in the WTO cafeteria and discussed ongoing trade issues between their countries. This informant, however, cautioned me against placing too much emphasis on the importance of inter-personal relationships in producing specific outcomes of the dispute settlement process. In both accounts the strategic deployment of sociology and the respondents’ understanding of the character of the sociological inquiry produced a unique perspective on how the World Trade Organization operates. In the first instance, my laughter betrayed a shared understanding of some hyperbole in his characterization of trade negotiations as a soap opera. It seemed that the respondent stretched to conceive of WTO processes through a sociological lens and ended up with something that we both, in the moment, found somewhat incredulous. After all, this is the WTO, which we have already described as ‘one of the most powerful international agreements in existence’ and which has brought hundreds of thousands of people, on various occasions, into the streets in protest. Now an insider describes its inner workings as ‘soap opera.’ Both examples illustrate the significance of interpersonal relationships. What appears as discrete cases in a quantitative data set are, from the perspective of the informant, repeated and on-going interactions with colleagues, the character of which affect how the informant approaches his work. While comparison to a ‘soap opera’ may or may not be hyperbolic, such a narrative is an important reminder that these elites are enmeshed in complicated and on-going social relationships that shape the way they approach litigation at the WTO. These features only emerged through strategic interventions into the power relationship in the process of interviewing. In a much more significant context, one respondent described why his country – to his exasperation – tended to comply with WTO rulings: It never occurred to policy makers at high levels that, uh, facing your damnation and just suffering it is an option. ... Now, this is what I said was interesting and therefore I tried to dig into the reasons, and uh, I found that uh, we as a, ((clears throat)) as a nation of minds, of people, of- of- people whose nature is, uh, if you- if you can find

Downloaded from http://qrj.sagepub.com by Juan Pardo on March 20, 2008 © 2007 SAGE Publications. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.


Conti and O’Neil: Studying power certain commonality in the- in the diverse, uh, uh, you know, communities that constitute [my country], we as a nation are a very complying kind. We- we, uh, we want to respect international relations, international law. Uh, I in fact went into some early readings uh from ... from the first Prime Minister’s times, and I realized that, uh, uh, after independence one of the main policy was, uh, to determine how would the world characterize us –look at thatlook at [us] as a nation – Was that we should be considered as a credible, respected, international, uh, player, in everything. And trade certainly did not count anywhere, uh, in the kind of credible deal that we were looking for. Trade could be, if I may use the term, trade could be sacrificed on the altar of ... this credibility. This was not only policy makers in terms of the executive guys, and the bureaucracy, but, even the parliament.

His throat clearing prior to his use of the phrase ‘nation of mind,’ hinted at unease with a purportedly sociological concept. In this narrative of aspirations for national legitimacy, there is a theory of a trade delegation’s orientation to dispute settlement in the WTO that could never be captured through a statistical analysis of outcomes. Indeed, the concern for legitimacy is powerful and pervades most decisions made by trade counsel. Several lawyers reported that it was highly embarrassing for Geneva-based officials to lose a dispute at the WTO. And the risk of political embarrassment of superiors always played a role in the decisions as whether to litigate a dispute. As these examples demonstrate, intervening in the authority relationship in the interview produces specific and significant insights. Strategic management of my political identity also had important implications. First and most important, it enabled the interviews to proceed without provoking a defensive posture from the informants. Diminishing any perception of me as a threat allowed the informant to be more forthcoming, at times allowing their personal perspectives and feelings to emerge. In several cases, the respondents revealed the ‘distance’ between the goals and practices of the WTO and their personal rationales for working with the organization. This informant described how overwhelmed he was by all of the work that he was required to do despite having few resources with which to do it. I asked how resource limitations affected participation in the WTO: R:

Joe: R:

Uh, I think we do a good job of it. ... And uh, we flout all, uh, labor laws. We are supposed to work for eight hours a day. We work for twelve hours a day. We are not supposed to work on weekends, we work on weekends. We forego, of course, holidays in Europe, we don’t think about the other, we think about [holidays at home], keep working in August, that’s ... so you’re quite dedicated, yes ((almost a whisper)).

His response to my questioning of his dedication suggests that perhaps he was less than dedicated or that, yes indeed, he was dedicated but he wasn’t necessarily

Downloaded from http://qrj.sagepub.com by Juan Pardo on March 20, 2008 © 2007 SAGE Publications. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.

77


78

Qualitative Research 7(1)

happy with what that meant for him personally. This speaks to the difference between the duties and bureaucratic structure of his trade mission and himself as an individual, carrying those duties out. He remained a person within the bureaucratic structure of his office and that of the WTO. In many cases, such personal perspectives were revealed after specific requests for confidentiality. When I asked one highly placed informant how he became involved with the WTO he responded: I personally was not at all interested in [the WTO]. I was interested in commercial economic law, but from a very different perspective, from the perspective of the new international economic order in the 70s and 80s. ... I have some standing as an international lawyer on the international level so people, in fact, said ‘but why are you interested in this role?’ And I said I’m not interested, I was drafted, particularly that it’s very badly paid.

He continued: There are two strategies if you are an international lawyer and you manage to get a certain visibility and you are on the margins. [Some do] it by criticizing from the outside, throwing stones at the windows. I did some of that as well, but I think it’s very important when in a way there are very few arenas open. I think that the Third World now, most countries are in the WTO and those who are not in want to get in so if they have to defend their interest, they have to defend them inside not outside. But the worst part is that I am convinced that many countries have ratified these treaties without really reading them thoroughly or at all perhaps so they have contracted obligations without understanding very well their implications.

He later described the limited latitude that he had in his official duties that permitted him to favor Third World interests at the WTO. In comparison to the prior example, the institutional position of the informant was not only the hierarchical organization and bureaucratic requirements (such as volumes of paperwork) of a trade ministry, but the historical structure of the global economy and the legal organization of world trade. My strategic deployment of socially legitimate knowledge and political identity management altered the authority relationship in the process of interviewing. While perhaps agreeing with some or all of the goals of the WTO, the informants were never mere agents of the WTO; neither could they fully direct the WTO to their own ends. Careful attention to and strategic intervention in the micropolitics of the interview permitted a view of the informants as elite actors embedded in vast bureaucracies and deep historical social structures.

Discussion and conclusion Joe’s experiences interviewing people involved in the WTO dispute resolution process demonstrate the importance of qualitative methods and the benefits of employing techniques of feminist methodologies in the study of global elites. Qualitative research informed by feminist methodologies lead to understanding discrete disputes as on-going and repeated personal and inter-governmental

Downloaded from http://qrj.sagepub.com by Juan Pardo on March 20, 2008 © 2007 SAGE Publications. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.


Conti and O’Neil: Studying power

interactions. These on-going interactions shape how counsels approach litigation at the WTO, highlight the complexity of the relationships in which informants were embedded, and provide insight into how deep historical structures of the global economy are mediated and reproduced through the WTO. The WTO is not a monolithic machine; rather, it is a complex social forum that is daily reproduced through the activities of many people engaged in WTO disputing for a variety of personal, professional, and organization rationales and goals. Some informants explained how they exercised their personal commitment to improving the situations of the Third World by working on the ‘inside’ of the WTO; several feared that the Third World may have entered the WTO without a clear appreciation of its implications for them. Another informant linked the desire of his country – a postcolonial state emerging as a Third World trading power – for national legitimacy to specific approaches to the WTO dispute settlement system. These perspectives on the WTO emerged when Joe invited his interviewees to think about the operation of the WTO from a sociological standpoint. Initially, this was a strategy Joe employed to diffuse the power relationship in the interview but it permitted a nuanced vision into how power operates not only in the WTO but in the international economy regulated by the WTO. While Joe found it appropriate to conceal the identities of the respondents, his sense of accountability to them did not manifest in absolute honesty about his own motivations out of a fear that it would compromise the entire project. In the practice of studying elites there is less need to protect elites from the power of the researcher (Cookson, 1994; Hertz and Imber, 1995). As we have described, the authority relationship in the interview must be strategically managed. In doing so, a premium is placed on tracking the effects of such interventions on knowledge claims. This accountability to the knowledge claims requires that researchers also afford ‘complex personhood’ (Gordon, 1997) even to the most powerful. Recognizing and portraying interviewees as complex and even sympathetic human beings disrupts easy or uncomplicated links between the social realm of the WTO and the impacts of the WTO as an organization. At the same time, these portrayals carry important political consequences and at times feel anathema to scholars who are committed to social justice. The demand to retain the complex personhood of the informant challenges dominant notions of how power operates when studying elites. Employing feminist methodology to understand how power operates in the interview and how it shapes the production of knowledge suggests that ‘studying up’ distorts and reifies the complex power dynamic in the interview and in the social world more generally. ‘Studying up’ obstructs an analysis of the complex agency and subject positions of all people involved in the research process. First, this terminology denies the agency, responsibility and accountability of the researcher. By assuming a hierarchy of power of up or down, the researcher can lose sight of their own role in the research process including the ability to intervene in the power dynamic of the interview. Second, understanding

Downloaded from http://qrj.sagepub.com by Juan Pardo on March 20, 2008 © 2007 SAGE Publications. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.

79


80

Qualitative Research 7(1)

power in the research process as rigidly hierarchical obscures the gaps and contradictions between an interview subject’s personal beliefs, ideas and lived experience, and the institutional space that they occupy. Conceptualizing power as ‘possessed’ by an individual, as implied by the ‘studying up’ terminology, over-estimates the agency of elites and obscures tensions between such elites and the institutional contexts in which they operate. Evaluating the dispute resolution process of the WTO with qualitative methods that were informed by feminist meditations on the research process has still other implications. While Joe conducted the interviews, both authors engaged in a dialogic process of investigating the power dynamics of the interview. This joint project initially began when Joe returned from his first research trip to Geneva demoralized and despondent from his first encounter with global elites. What started as a form of colleague-to-colleague therapy transformed into a methodological inquiry of what it means and what it takes to study global power. The deployment of feminist methodologies not only served to uncover a more complex understanding of power and accountability in the research process, but also served as a form of auto- and community therapy for the researchers themselves. Applying qualitative and feminist approaches has tremendous benefits that aid the researcher in the process of doing research and generates nuanced understanding of the complex and multi-layered operations of power. Tales from the field can build community and provide training for future researchers, which is desperately needed as social research continues to grapple with the scale and complexity of social relationships in this age of globalization. As social scientists we must continue to study, expose and critique power, and need to use all of our collective knowledge and resources, particularly qualitative and feminist methodologies, to do this in a globalizing world. REFERENCES

Bhavnani, K.-K. (1991) Talking Politics: A Psychological Framing for Views from Youth in Britain. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Bhavnani, K.-K. (1994) ‘Tracing the Contours: Feminist Research and Feminist Objectivity’, in H. Afshar and M. Maynard (eds) The Dynamics of ‘Race’ and Gender: Some Feminist Interventions, pp. 26–40. London: Taylor & Francis. Bloom, L.R. (1998) Under the Sign of Hope: Feminist Methodology and Narrative Interpretation. Albany: State University of New York Press. Bonacich, E. and Appelbaum, R.P. (2000) Behind the Label: Inequality in the Los Angeles Apparel Industry. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Burawoy, M. (2000) Global Ethnography: Forces, Connections, and Imaginations in a Postmodern World. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Casper, M.J. (1997) ‘Feminist Politics and Fetal Surgery: Adventures of a Research Cowgirl on the Reproductive Frontier’, Feminist Studies 23(2): 233–62. Collins, P.H. (2000) Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment. New York: Routledge. Cookson, P. (1994) ‘The Power Discourse: Elite Narratives and Educational Policy Formation’, in G. Walford (ed.) Researching the Powerful in Education, pp. 116–30. London: UCL Press.

Downloaded from http://qrj.sagepub.com by Juan Pardo on March 20, 2008 © 2007 SAGE Publications. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.


Conti and O’Neil: Studying power Dahl, R.A. (1961) Who Governs? Democracy and Power in an American City. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Dankoski, M.E. (2000) ‘What Makes Research Feminist?’, Journal of Feminist Family Therapy 12(1): 3–19. DeVault, M.L. (1996) ‘Talking Back to Sociology: Distinctive Contributions of Feminist Methodology’, Annual Review of Sociology 22: 29–50. Dezalay, Y. and Garth, B.G. (1996) Dealing in Virtue: International Commercial Arbitration and the Construction of a Transnational Legal Order. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press. Dezalay, Y. and Garth, B.G. (2002) The Internationalization of Palace Wars: Lawyers, Economists, and the Contest to Transform Latin American States. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Domhoff, G.W. (1967) Who Rules America? Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Domhoff, G.W. (1990) The Power Elite and the State: How Policy is Made in America. New York: A. de Gruyter. England, K.V.L. (2002) ‘Interviewing Elites: Cautionary Tales about Researching Women Managers in Canada’s Banking Industry’, in P.J. Moss (ed.) Feminist Geography in Practice: Research and Methods, pp. 200–13. Oxford: Blackwell. Fitz, J. and Halpin, D. (1994) ‘Ministers and Mandarins: Educational Research in Elite Settings’, in G. Walford (ed.) Researching the Powerful in Education, pp. 32–50. London: UCL Press. Forsythe, D. (2001) Studying Those Who Study Us: An Anthropologist in the World of Artificial Intelligence. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Foucault, M. (1977) Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. New York: Pantheon Books. Gordon, A. (1997) Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. Gramsci, A. (1992) Prison Notebooks. New York: Columbia University Press. Haraway, D.J. (1988) ‘Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective’, in E.F. Keller and H.E. Longino (eds) Feminism and Science, pp. 249–63. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Haraway, D.J. (2004) The Haraway Reader. New York: Routledge. Harding, S.G. (1987) ‘Introduction: Is there a Feminist Method?’, in S.G. Harding (ed.) Feminism and Methodology: Social Science Issues, pp. 1–14. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. Harding, S.G. (1991) Whose Science? Whose Knowledge?: Thinking from Women’s Lives. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Harding, S.G. and Hintikka, M.B. (2003) Discovering Reality: Feminist Perspectives on Epistemology, Metaphysics, Methodology, and Philosophy of Science. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. Hartsock, N.C.M. (1983) Money, Sex, and Power: Toward a Feminist Historical Materialism. New York: Longman. Hermanowicz, J.C. (2002) ‘The Great Interview: 25 Strategies for Interviewing People in Bed’, Qualitative Sociology 25(4): 479–99. Hertz, R. and Imber, J.B. (1995) Studying Elites Using Qualitative Methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Hirsch, P.M. (1995) ‘Tales from the Field: Learning from Researchers’ Accounts’, in R. Hertz and J.B. Imber (eds) Studying Elites Using Qualitative Methods, pp. 72–80. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Holmes, D.R. and Marcus, G.E. (2005) ‘Cultures of Expertise and the Management of Globalization: Toward the Refunctioning of Ethnography’, in A. Ong and S.J. Collier

Downloaded from http://qrj.sagepub.com by Juan Pardo on March 20, 2008 © 2007 SAGE Publications. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.

81


82

Qualitative Research 7(1) (eds) Global Assemblages: Technology, Politics, and Ethics as Anthropological Problems, pp. 235–52. Malden, MA: Blackwell. Jackall, R. (1988) Moral Mazes: The World of Corporate Managers. New York: Oxford University Press. Lukes, S. (2005) Power: A Radical View. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Mann, M. (1986) The Sources of Social Power. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Marcus, G.E. (1983) Elites: Ethnographic Issues. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press. McMichael, P. (2004) Development and Social Change: A Global Perspective. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press. Mills, C.W. (1956) White Collar: The American Middle Classes. New York: Oxford University Press. Mills, C.W. (1957) The Power Elite. New York: Oxford University Press. Mills, C.W. (1963) Power, Politics, and People; The Collected Essays of C. Wright Mills. New York: Oxford University Press. Nader, L. (1972) ‘Up the Anthropologist’, in D.H. Hymes (ed.) Reinventing Anthropology, pp. 284–311. New York: Pantheon Books. Nader, L. (1977) ‘Studying Up’, Psychology Today 11(Sept): 132. Naples, N.A. (2003) Feminism and Method: Ethnography, Discourse Analysis, and Activist Research. New York: Routledge. Odendahl, T. and Shaw, A.M. (2002) ‘Interviewing Elites’, in J.F. Gubrium and J.A. Holstein (eds) Handbook of Interview Research: Context & Method, pp. 299–316. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Poulantzas, N. (2000) State, Power, Socialism. London: Verso. Reinharz, S. and Davidman, L. (1992) Feminist Methods in Social Research. New York: Oxford University Press. Schwartzman, H.B. (1993) Ethnography in Organizations. Newbury Park, CA: Sage. Sklair, L. (2001) The Transnational Capitalist Class. Oxford: Blackwell. Skocpol, T. (1979) States and Social Revolutions: A Comparative Analysis of France, Russia, and China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Van Maanen, J. (1988) Tales of the Field: On Writing Ethnography. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Walford, G. (1994) ‘A New Focus on the Powerful’, in G. Walford (ed.) Researching the Powerful in Education, pp. 2–11. London: UCL Press. JOSEPH A. CONTI AND MOIRA O’NEIL are Doctoral Candidates in the Department of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The interviews described in this article are part of Joseph’s dissertation work, which has been supported by the National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grant (#0402260), the Albelina Suarez Educational Trust, and the University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation Doctorial Fellowship. We would like to thank the anonymous reviewers at Qualitative Research, Ingrid Li, Richard Appelbaum, Kum-Kum Bhavnani and Sheigla Murphy. Address: Department of Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, California 93106–9430, USA. [email: jconti@umail.ucsb.edu;moneil@umail.ucsb.edu]

Downloaded from http://qrj.sagepub.com by Juan Pardo on March 20, 2008 © 2007 SAGE Publications. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.

Qualitative Research http://qrj.sagepub.com  

can be found at: Qualitative Research Additional services and information for K E Y W O R D S : feminist methodology, global elite, studyin...