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The reflective analysis of a collective sociological study on the stable fractions of French working-class households confirms that those who accept being interviewed have specific social properties and interests that set them apart from those who refuse interviews. This article discusses two complementary strategies to produce sociological knowledge on those who decline sociologists’ solicitations. Attentive to the unequal propensity of individuals to speak of themselves, the first strategy advocates multiplying the channels leading to the establishment of a successful interaction with such interviewees who would otherwise never have accepted to take part in an interview study. The second strategy consists of making sense of the structure and the ordinary practices of the social group under study through a detailed analysis of variation in reactions to the interview offer.

  • Reflective investigation
  • working-classes
  • asymmetric social relationship
Gérard Mauger
Marie-Pierre Pouly
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