Het zakenevenement als veldwerkplek?De auteur bedankt Tessel Jonquière, Geert de Vries en Fred Wester voor commentaar op dit essay. De eerste aanzetten ervoor kwamen tot stand tijdens de colleges kwalitatieve methodologie die de auteur doceert aan de Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen. | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 24, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 1385-1535
  • E-ISSN: 1875-7324


Business event as fieldwork site?

A major methodological problem in the ethnographic study of international business elites is to make visible the social relations they draw and depend on. Business elites constitute a highly mobile social category and they mediate a growing portion of everyday social interaction via online, digital means. They are elusive, therefore, and that compromises the possibility of making direct observations of their social practices, which erodes the scope to ethnographically study this important group in the world economy. The essay shows how fieldwork on business events, such as conferences, expositions, and trade fairs, can help to overcome this problem. Such events constitute focal points and moments of crystallization in globally operating social networks, making visible a part of the international business ‘theatre’ that normally lags hidden. By presenting excerpts from recent fieldwork carried out in Belgium, Greece and the Netherlands, I give an impression of observables in this theatre, aiming especially at fostering an awareness of social behavior ‘backstage’ with a view to formulating further questions. The essay concludes with a plea to include business events as ‘field schools’ in study programs looking at international business elites, such as business schools and/or business economics.


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