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 9: How I Learned What a Crock was
In Fall 1955, I moved to Kansas City to begin fieldwork at the University of Kansas Medical School as the first field-worker in a project led by Everett Hughes, part of a team that eventually also included Blanche Geer and Anselm Strauss.1 We were going to study medical students and medical education, but, to be truthful, I had very little idea of what I was going to do beyond “hanging around with the students,” going to classes, and whatever else presented itself.
I had even less idea what the problem was that we were going to investigate. There was a field of sociology called “socialization,” and Robert Merton and his students had ...