Biographical Research as a Cognitive and Practical Approach for Social Workers: An Interview With Catherine Delcroix


  • Catherine Delcroix Université Marc Bloch, Strasbourg
  • Lena Inowlocki Fachhochschule Frankfurt/M.



biographical research and social work, generational transmission in families, immigrant associations, families from North


In this interview, the sociologist Catherine DELCROIX depicts an action research project with social workers and its consequences. The social workers were concerned about problems in a housing estate in Nantes Nord (the Northern part of Nantes) with many low-income immigrant families from the Maghreb. They contacted Catherine DELCROIX and asked her to help them understand the destructive behavior of local young people and the—as it appeared to them—indifference of their fathers. She guided the social workers in a self-reflexive action research project in which the workers asked fathers, mothers and their adolescent children for life-history interviews. Interviewing and interpreting the interviews together changed the preconceived ideas of the social workers about the immigrants. But there were unanticipated further consequences as well, which affected the entire community and the families. Through forming an association, the fathers created a forum of articulation and participation in public, and they became "coaches" for their children. They were able to counter the effects of "discredit," a concept that Catherine DELCROIX formulated in this research. One important finding is the relevance of a narrated "family memory" in this context since young people understood better who they were, where they came from, and what they could hope for. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0801600


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Author Biographies

Catherine Delcroix, Université Marc Bloch, Strasbourg

Catherine DELCROIX, doctorate in political sciences and international relations, habilitation à Diriger des Recherches (H.D.R.). She is professor in sociology at Marc Bloch University, Strasbourg. Her main research interests concern how families cope with precariousness in low-income households, focusing particularly on immigrant families from the Maghreb.

Lena Inowlocki, Fachhochschule Frankfurt/M.

Lena INOWLOCKI, Dr. phil.habil., sociologist and professor at the Department for Health and Social Work at the University of Applied Sciences FrankfurtM. Her research mainly concerns biographical and generational processes of cultural transmission and transformation as well as identity processes and belongings in modern complex societies.




How to Cite

Delcroix, C., & Inowlocki, L. (2008). Biographical Research as a Cognitive and Practical Approach for Social Workers: An Interview With Catherine Delcroix. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 9(1).