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.
Chapter 3: Fielding Hot Topics in Cool Settings: The Study of Corporate Ethics
Traditionally, the sociology of deviancy—including criminology—has concentrated its research on the offending of nonelite and/or dependent populations and on the bureaucracies created to manage them, [Page 41]e.g., prisons and mental hospitals. Sociologists have seldom undertaken inside studies of deviancy in elite organizations, such as corporations and the upper level government agencies that monitor them.1 Indeed, Perrow (1972, pp. 197–199) noted a general tendency in sociology to study “trivial” organizations in industry and government rather than dominant ones, and sociologists have continued to urge the field to greater research efforts on the latter to improve both organizational and general social theory (cf. Clark, ...