Interviewing elites. Perspectives from medical tourism sector in India and in Thailand

[EN] This paper aims to contribute to the methodological debates on elites interview. While researching medical tourism in India and Thailand, many interviews were conducted with medical professionals, marketing and operation managers of corporate hospitals, and key members of different ministers or professional organisations in India and Thailand. Given the potential negative impacts on the local healthcare, this elite is building a discursive reality to embed medical tourism in each country. We analysed the methodological challenges faced interviewing this elite promoting medical tourism. Though not exclusive, « interviewing up » raises various methodological issues like the access to the informers, the unbalanced power relations during the interview, the reliability of information. Medical tourism being a new trend, the deconstruction of public discourses from the various medical tourism promoters was fundamental in order to extract maximum information during the interviews. The manipulation of our positionality was of great help to gain access to our informers. While not insisting on our academic and disciplinary affiliation, the diplomatic status of one of the team’s members was on the contrary very effective in giving more credibility to our requests for interview. Our positionality was again reworked through the interview’s process. During the interview, the reciprocity of information, the exchange of opinion, was of great help to build confidence among the interviewees and to gain more sensitive information.


Bochaton, Audrey, Lefebvre, Bertrand (2010) « Interviewing elites. Perspectives from medical tourism sector in India and in Thailand », in Hall, M. (éd) Fieldwork in Tourism. Methods, Issues and Reflections, Routledge, New York, pp. 85-95