Through a presentation of a fragment of her methodological itinerary in the study of homeless people’s identity strategies, the author underlines the importance of fieldwork as the matrix for understanding the social reality being observed. The multiplicity of identities, both of the researcher and of the agents of the study emerge from their encounter, which is viewed as a process of mutual understanding and self-knowledge. Here in lies the fertility of this reflexive approach especially when working with people experiencing extreme poverty and continual stigmatization. For such an analysis undermines reducing representations of these solitary and rootless figures, thus revealing the complexities of their biographical histories, in a social context.
Keywords: Homeless; identity; reflexivity; fieldwork; biographical paths; first contact