The concept of “elite interviewing” is a recent phenomenon in educational research and has been studied widely in the Western context. Drawing on my own experience, this article traces the challenges and difficulties involved in “elite interviewing” in higher education in post-colonial Bangladesh. It is based on a critical methodological perspective, using a thematic analysis of interviews with 28 higher education policy-making elites working between the 1990s and 2010s at the state level in Bangladesh. This article examines how the local power structure within the current socio-political context emerged from a long colonial past, and how this in turn influenced elite interviewing. It looks at how the researcher, who’s onto-epistemological as well as geopolitical position originated from and has been influenced by both Global South and Global North contexts, negotiated with this distinctive power structure in elite interview settings to understand the “micro-politics” of neoliberal policy formulation in Bangladesh. In its critical analysis of elite interviewing, this paper traces how “everyday social practices” drawn from colonial practices, for example, the use of “sir” and acknowledging “supremacy” and “power conflict” served as a form of “capillary” domination of relations to respond to the power structure and neutralise specific identities, positions, and experiences in elite interview settings.


elite interviewing, postcolonialism, power structure, everyday social practice, higher education, Bangladesh

Author Bio(s)

Ariful Haq Kabir, Ph.D. (Monash University, Australia), has been teaching the sociology of education and teacher education at the Institute of Education and Research, University of Dhaka, since 2006. He also works as a sessional academic at the School of Education, Deakin University, Australia. His research interest includes postcolonialism, neoliberalism, higher education, education policy and practices, comparative and international education, and critical pedagogy. His manuscript (co-authored) entitled The Privatisation of Higher Education in Postcolonial Bangladesh: The Politics of Intervention and Control has been published by Routledge. Please direct correspondence to akabir@du.ac.bd.

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