Research work's hypothesis-construction


4. A fourth element of my hypothesis-construction: the permanent need for fieldwork

Contrary to sociologists or anthropologists, economists hardly ever undertake any fieldwork. At the very best, their home ground is that of statistics or that of an analysis of the fieldwork carried out by other researchers (in sociology, anthropology, ...).

Ever since my inclusion as a researcher in a team of IREP Grenoble in the late 1960s, the contribution of the team's engineers operating in the field (Algeria, Tunisia, sub-Saharan Africa) proved invaluable to me and encouraged me to explore the field of firms.

For some years now, I have been carrying out work as a consultant (with factory visits) for various chartered accountants acting on behalf of trade union organizations, a fact that allows me to connect the theoretical frameworks constructed over time to the industrial and social reality of industrial firms (food-processing, chemicals, mechanical engineering, in the building trade and public works, …) and of service providers (communications, health, computing and data processing, …).

It is true that, independently of the input of this work on the ground in the conduct of certain theoretical analyses (labour process, firms' institutions and organizations, industrial and commercial strategies, …), for confidentiality reasons, up till now this factual work has not been included in research texts, but in the near future it should provide material for a publication, with the usual precautions in order to do so.

My critical gaze owes much to the teaching and to the research direction of Gérard de Bernis, who systematically taught me to take one step to the side, so as to observe, read, analyze and say things differently! My debt towards him is immense: the schoolteacher I once was, owes him my career as a university professor and researcher.Cf. my contributions at the time in collected essay publications.
Cf. Richard Arena [1999], Un changement d’orientation dans la revue d’économie industrielle [A change of direction in the Journal of Industrial Economics], Revue d’Economie Industrielle n°87, 1st quarter.
Cf. Christian Palloix [2001], Structuralisme et économie industrielle : petite histoire d’un prologue (1960-1980), CRIISEA