Solidarity with the powerful? Fieldwork and Ethnography with Elites

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper, not in proceedingpeer-review

43 Downloads (Pure)


Anthropologists have a long history talking about what we should do when we research less powerful or subordinate groups. We build rapport, we give them voice, we describe their world to others, we show their problems and their solutions. We have a kind of solidarity with them. But more of us are now researching groups with autonomous resources and power. I myself have been with NGO elites, planners and consultants, global anti-bribery activists and most recently, compliance professionals promoting business ethics. None of these people are ‘subaltern’. Our project is to ‘tell their story’, but their project is to make sure their story is a good one. While we do not simply want to ‘expose’ them, we want to tell the truth about how powerful groups operate. What kind of ethical obligations and methodological issues arise doing research with elites? What kind of solidarity should we have with them?
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
Publication statusUnpublished - 2013
EventSwedish Anthropology Association (SANT) årsmøte - Uppsala
Duration: 2013 Apr 17 → …


ConferenceSwedish Anthropology Association (SANT) årsmøte
Period2013/04/17 → …

Bibliographical note

This paper is part of my research project on The Age of Compliance, financed by the Swedish Research Council, VR. Presented at the panel on Ethnography in the 21st century, Annual meeting of the Swedish Anthropological Association, Uppsala.

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Social Anthropology


  • social anthropology
  • elites
  • fieldwork
  • ethnography
  • ethnographic methods


Dive into the research topics of 'Solidarity with the powerful? Fieldwork and Ethnography with Elites'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this