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date: 02 March 2021

Interviewing Elites in the Educational Fieldlocked

  • Maria Luísa QuaresmaMaria Luísa QuaresmaUniversidad Autonoma de Chile
  •  and Cristóbal VillalobosCristóbal VillalobosPontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile

Summary

Elites can be understood as a group of people in possession of the highest levels of economic, social, cultural, and political capital. For this reason, these groups are considered key actors in understanding social inequality, the configuration of social structures, and the distribution of power within societies.

In the field of education, elites tend to concentrate in a small, select group of schools and universities, forming a social context that is key to understanding processes of (social) mobility and the reproduction of social positions.

The indisputable relevance of education in both the formation and consecration of elites make it almost impossible not to focus in the educational system when one is called to problematize the power of elites.

Through a literature review surveying the available literature within the field as well as examples of previous research, principle epistemological, conceptual, and empirical frameworks necessary to address interviews with elites in the educational sphere can be observed. The chapter review three critical dimensions of the interview process: (a) design, analyzing aspects such as the potentialities and limitations of the different types of interviews, the issue of validity and, the question about the distance between interviewer and interviewee (b) contact and consent to participate, studding the identification, contact and pre-meeting stage and (c) the interview process, analyzing aspects such as the place of the interview, the cultural aspects involved in any interview, the objective and purpose of the interview, the knowledge and skills that the interviewer must display, and the dispute over the power and status that is displayed in this type of interaction. Researchers who study education and/or elite social classes and who want to deepen their understanding of a group of people might refer to this qualitative research process of studying elites in the educational field.

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