The “Poor” in Biographical Sociology Classics— “The Others” or “People Just Like Us”?
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University of Lodz
Submission date: 2021-05-29
Final revision date: 2021-10-21
Acceptance date: 2022-05-05
Publication date: 2022-09-19
Polish Sociological Review 2022;219(3):385-406
In this article, I aim to reflect on the relationships between the researchers and those whom they investigate, referring to examples provided by classical biographical texts pertaining to the issues of poverty and social exclusion, i.e.: “The Polish Peasant in Europe and America” by William I. Thomas and Florian Znaniecki and “The Jack-Roller. A Delinquent Boy’s Own Story” by Clifford R. Shaw Concepts of poverty or social exclusion are both “moral” and descriptive; therefore, research in the field is particularly susceptible to social valuing processes. This notion is extremely important in biographical research, where scholars thoroughly analyse the lives of informants. The scholar-informant relationships are inscribed in the frames of Othering and meeting the Other. These stances, replicated in later years, still resonate in sociological publications, in the dimensions of individual biographies, social relations between privileged and disadvantaged groups of social actors, and institutional solutions to social problems
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