CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

The article examines the problems encountered in an interdisciplinary project combining the complementary skills of an ethnographer (critical reflection on field investigation) and an econometrician (rigorous use of statistical data). The authors begin by presenting the encounter between two approaches to household economy (the ethnography of gardening and the econometrics of the decision to assume responsibility for the care of elderly people). Next, they ponder the theoretical and epistemological incompatibilities between their standard disciplinary currents (the microeconomics of decision-making under constraint, the sociology of socially situated interaction). Finally, they discuss the questions and tools allowing them to adopt an original division of scientific labour with regard to the issue of the family support for dependent persons. According to this new approach, moving back and forth between the empirical and theoretical means combining case studies with statistics on the empirical side, and comparing theories based on observation with a priori models on the theoretical side.

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