Reflexivity in Social Research

Reflexivity is valuable in research because it draws attention to the researcher as part of the world being studied and reminds us that the individuals involved in our research are subjects, not objects. By being reflexive we acknowledge that we cannot be separated from our biographies in our research inquiries.

The need to be reflexive in our research is no longer questioned, however there is little guidance available on how to be reflexive and what this means for various research projects. This online Zoom course introduces participants to the notion of reflexivity and its importance in social research, focusing on qualitative projects. After exploring the origins, principles and definitions of reflexivity, we move on to consider examples of reflexivity in action in qualitative projects involving for example, observational and ethnographic methods, and interviews.

We then consider ways of developing and practicing a ‘reflexive sensibility’ via writing reflexively and hands-on practical activities. All participants will receive a PDF copy of Karen’s book Reflexivity: Theory, Method and Practice (Routledge, 2019).

Course Content
The course typically covers:

  • The origins and development of reflexivity in social research
  • Definitions and principles of reflexivity
  • Researcher positionality
  • Emotions and embodiment in research
  • Examples of reflexivity in action: i.e. interviews, ethnography
  • How to develop and practice a reflexive sensibility
  • Keeping diaries and writing reflexively
  • Pitfalls to avoid, i.e. the danger of naval gazing
  • Ethics and responsibilities to participants