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Problematising power in ‘elite’ interview

Recently, the elite interviews have drawn great attentions among the qualitative researchers (Smith, 2000). There are also some different views about what make the elite interviews so unique compared to other kinds of interviews. Based on a structural perspective of power, diffinterviewerences of elite and other kinds of interview result from the relationship between the interviewers and interviewees.  It is believed that interviewers usually hold clear views of power that interviewees have and this power will inevitably affect the interviews. There is also possibility of clearly defining and identifying
whether each interviewee as elite or not. Nevertheless, a post-structural perspective of power hold the opposite view and argued that this structural perspective is a misconception and relied on unsophisticated knowledge of power relation within the interview space. Instead, they suggest that the researchers should reflexively make assumptions about where the power is derived from and should consider that the power relations social scientists sometimes will not necessary have effects on the interview space. In conclusion, because there is no best single method in approaching interviews, many researchers and the author suggest that we should reflect on the power relations involved in the process of interviewing more deeply.


Smith, K. E. (2006). Problematizing power relations in elite interviews. Geoforum, 27, 643 –653

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