Few social researchers study elites because elites, by their nature, are very difficult to access. The contributors to this volume provide valuable insights on how researchers can successfully penetrate elite settings. As the authors reflect on their experiences, they provide constructive advice as well as cautionary tales about how they learned to maneuver and become accepted in a world that is often closed to them. This book's coverage includes three broad research domains: business elites, professional elites, and community and political elites. Although the studies focus on qualitative methodology, even researchers who emphasize more quantitative methods will benefit from this volume's thoughtful observations on how researchers gather data, construct interview strategies, write about their subjects, and experience the research process. A wide range of researchers in organizational studies, sociology, political science, and many other fields will find this volume to be an important guide to the many subtle and elusive features of conducting successful research with these groups.
Access to professional elites is second in difficulty only to access to business elites. In the case of those types of occupations which straddle both professional and corporate statuses, the question of how the researcher establishes rapport remains critical. Joshua Gamson presents this case in his examination of the people who broker Hollywood celebrities. Theirs is a highly professionalized and competitive type of work. Conducting social research in such an environment illustrates, as Gamson remarks, the competition among elites: “Hollywood elites often see intellectual elites not only as competitive but also as threatening to their populist grounding.” Gamson further recognizes the role dimensions of the researcher. He knew when and how to play the role of researcher: part of that is creating ...