Click the star to add/remove an item to/from your individual schedule.
You need to be logged in to avail of this functionality.

Accepted Paper:

“I feel that it is inappropriate”: Navigating remote elite interviews during COVID-19 in Indonesia  
Joanna Octavia (University of Warwick)

Paper short abstract:

Elite interviews are conducted to obtain information or context that only specific people – typically those near the top of a stratification system – can provide. In developing countries such as Indonesia, cultural norms mandate that such interviews are conducted in-person to gain trust and ensure confidentiality (Octavia, 2021). Drawing from fieldwork experience in Jakarta, this paper argues that tapping into networks and formulating a digital identity may aid researchers in accessing elites and successfully conducting remote interviews with them during COVID-19.

Paper long abstract:

COVID-19 restrictions have forced researchers around the world to change their research methods in order to be able to produce data from a distance. But what happens when cultural norms mandate them to conduct in-person interviews with elite stakeholders?

This paper looks at the researcher’s experience in conducting elite interviews in Jakarta, Indonesia, during COVID-19, when the public health emergency restricted the ability to conduct face-to-face interviews with elites, such as government and union officials. Elite interviewees are typically at the top of a stratification system, and selected for their role in the subject matter. Like the concept of guanxi in China (see Gold et al., 2002), Bapakism in Indonesia defines the fundamental cultural dynamics in social networks. Derived from the word ‘Bapak’, which means father in Indonesian and is an honourific used to address an older male or someone with a higher status, Bapakism as a norm emphasises paternalistic values, and permeates many aspects of Indonesian social and political life, including interactions with elite stakeholders.

Even before the pandemic, elites are typically difficult to access due to their position and proximity to power (Liu, 2018). Since some research topics may be sensitive, meeting in-person allows researchers to assure elites that the interview will be treated anonymously and confidentially (Harvey, 2011). Drawing from the researcher’s fieldwork experience, this paper argues that despite these obvious challenges, remote interviews could be made possible with the aid of personal and professional networks, as well as by the formulation of a detailed digital identity.

Panel P07b
How can remote research methods contribute to field research in the developing world? Producing development knowledge from a distance II
  Session 1 Thursday 1 July, 2021, -