Say My Name? Anonymity or Not in Elite Interviewing

Christoph Houman Ellersgaard*, Kia Ditlevsen, Anton Grau Larsen

*Corresponding author for this work

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This article discusses anonymizing elite interviewees. Based on our experiences with interviewing professional elites and ultra-elites in different research projects, we describe how the types of conflicts involving analysis and publication change when interviewees are not promised anonymity. We discuss how contextualizing the elite positions of anonymized interviewees becomes increasingly difficult in interviews with persons who hold prestigious positions of authority and are interviewed in their official capacity. Masking interviewees can create conflicts with regard to the researcher’s presentation of results, the transparency of the research and the ability of interviewees to talk back. We show how working with non-anonymized interviewees – and even using excerpts from interviews on public radio – can be an option in qualitative research. However, non-anonymized interviews with elites should be considered only in some instances and may seriously hamper the validity of the material in other cases.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Social Research Methodology
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)673-686
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022

Bibliographical note

Published online: 06 Jun 2021.


  • Confidentiality
  • Anonymity
  • Elite
  • Elite interviews

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