Interviewing landed elites in post-war Guatemala

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10 Scopus citations


This essay explores the methodological challenges of conducting ethnographic research among economic and managerial elites in Guatemala's landed sector during the country's post-war transition. Guatemala's 34-year civil war ended with peace accords in 1996. From the mid 1990s through 2001, I conducted interviews with leading representatives of the private sector in Guatemala, including the owners and top managers of the country's sugar plantations. The Guatemalan sugar elite describes itself as the new face of the private sector in Central America, implementing "corporate social responsibility" programs linked to the World Bank and other international agencies. Questions of access and interview dynamics are often discussed in relation to qualitative research on "elites." Yet, I found the interview process to be less complicated than I anticipated. Of greater concern were the problems of research dissemination and praxis. The experience discussed here raises questions about whether research on particular elite groups can be sustained over long periods of time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-25
Number of pages3
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010


  • Agrarian
  • Development
  • Elites
  • Guatemala
  • Post-war
  • Qualitative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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