Par Yves Clot, J. Leplat
In ergonomics and work psychology, few references are made to clinical method. Yet when one considers the history of these sciences, one realises that it plays an important role, especially in the field of work analysis. Therefore it seemed useful to focus on this method and its evolution in order to clarify its status and implementation conditions. This method could then contribute more efficiently to the progress in these sciences. This paper does not contrast the clinical method with the experimental method as two ways of implementing rigid principle. Instead, a comparison is made which considers both methods as flexible enough to suit a variety of often complex research situations.
Two main purposes were singled out for the clinical method : epistemic and practical. The first part of the article addresses the epistemic purpose which is the most « classical » and frequently encountered in the literature. Its main characteristics are highlighted. Some aspects of the implementation of the clinical method in the field of work analysis are then presented through some historical reminders and implementation examples in ergonomics and work psychology. Finally, suggestions are given regarding a joint use of both the clinical and the experimental methods.
The second part deals with the objective of the clinical method when addressing action. In this case, the method is aimed at bringing about a change in the work carried out. This does not necessarily exclude the acquisition of knowledge. The role of observations and conception of actions are presented. The experimental modes aimed at the enrichment of subject activity and the role of the collective dimension – the collective dimension in the subject and the subject in the collective dimension – are also addressed. Finally, the authors highlight the fact that the clinical method, oriented towards transformation action, aims at studying not only the activity but also its development with the purpose of discovering the « invariants ».
The conclusion summarises the main themes of the articles and proposes suggestions on how the clinical method could improve work analysis.
Cet article vise à examiner le rôle de la méthode clinique en ergonomie et en psychologie du travail. La première partie montre que cette méthode est présente dès les débuts de ces disciplines où elle constitue un moyen privilégié d’acquisition des connaissances sur les situations de travail et en particulier pour la conception des interventions. Par la suite, c’est la seconde partie, la méthode clinique s’est enrichie en devenant un instrument de transformation des situations de travail, sans perdre sa fonction d’acquisition de connaissances.