The methodological « I »Being implicit and explicit examined through field surveys
Four arguments, often interwoven, are put forward to legitimize the exponentially growing use of the first person in social science : the modernity of writing, the constitution of an alternative epistemology, the search for a more moral posture and methodological validation. It is more particularly this last point which is being looked at in this article. Is the radical implication of anthropology in this field a methodological requirement ? And how exactly should it be more explicit in relation to its own posture during the research process ? If non-implication and the lack of being explicit are apparently hardly defensible today, a study of several typical cases of strong implication does not in fact make it possible to rule conversely, in other words, in favour of there being a methodological advantage in maximum personal investment strategies, in comparison to more common forms of empathy or immersion, specific to prolonged surveys. Furthermore, the arguments in favour of a systematic intent to be explicit which surpasses a moderate use of reflexivity are not much more convincing either. If being in the field gives the researcher the scope for greater affective investment, what he says about his/her personal relationship with local actors is not as methodologically interesting as some would claim.