CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

Sociology is inseparable from sorting, classifying and ordering of empirical materials. These operations reduce the complexity of the phenomena studied, but they exude a better intelligibility from the data. In this perspective, the production of typologies is becoming quite a routine for social science research, especially for comprehensive investigations based on in?depth interviews. The typological method is understood here as a descriptive typology rather than the Weberian ideal?typical approach. In this frame, it appears to be a convenient way to deal with abundant materials and to achieve an organized and intelligible description of interpretative experiences. The main argument is that the typological method often leads to significant or exorbitant simplification of the results. Accordingly, the types should be considered as intermediate products of the research, and not as final results. This article is supported with an international comparison based on in?depth biographical interviews with unemployed. It presents and argues a complementary approach: if the typology identifies salient and attractive meanings of unemployment, the mapping approach allows to take into account variations, combinations and modulations of these meanings. Indeed, this method preserves a greater complexity of the studied reality without blurring the intelligibility of the results.


  • typology
  • ideal type
  • comprehensive sociology
  • interpretative experiences
  • unemployment
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