Sociology Index


As used by ethnomethodologists the term reflexivity means that an object or behavior and the description of this cannot be separated one from the other, rather they have a mirror-like relationship.

Reflexivity and indexicality are properties of behavior, settings and talk which make the ongoing construction of social reality necessary. Both of these properties question the objectivity of accounts, descriptions, explanations, etc.

Ethnographic description of a setting is reflexive in that the description seeks to explain features of a particular setting, like village life, but the setting itself is what is employed to make sense of the description.

On Reflexivity - Philip Carl Salzman, Concepts: reflexivity, theorists and ethnographers, positionality
The value of reflexivity has been widely accepted in anthropology during the past two decades. The concept of ref lexivity can be seen developing in the work of theorists and ethnographers of the 1960s and 1970s and was brought to flower among theorists and ethnographers of the 1980s and 1990s. But little critical analytic attention has been directed toward its claims to generate new understandings and inform about their positional foundations.

Varieties of Sociological Reflexivity - A View from Ethnomethodology - The thesis is concerned with delimiting two varieties of reflexivity, which I have called 'essential' and 'stipulative' reflexivity. 'Essential' reflexivity is an incarnate feature of members accounts and their mutually elaborative relation to the circumstances they describe. 'Stipulative' reflexivity treats of members accounts as a resource among many others in the determination of a knowledge claim as a construction. 
Chapter one forms the first part of my explication of 'essential' reflexivity. I argue that any 'essential' reflexivity must treat of context in a non-ironic manner. That is to say, 'essential' reflexivity must treat members' utterances as contexted, and not seek to 'remedy' this feature of natural language.
Chapter two discusses the manner in which Garfinkel advocates 'essential' reflexivity as a feature of accounts which is uninteresting to members. However, it is important to note that reflexivity is an essential component of accounts and the circumstances they describe.
Chapter four discusses correspondence and coherence epistemologies in an attempt to show how we may illustrate the epistemological commitments of the two modes of reflexivity that are discussed in the thesis. I argue that 'essential' reflexivity may be regarded as employing a coherence theory wherein accounts are constitutive of the world, while 'stipulative' reflexivity' employs a correspondence theory that may privilege analytic accounts of the world.
The chapter ends with a comparison between the 'stipulative' reflexivities and the ethnomethodological study of scientific practice.
Chapter six treats the work of those anthropologists who follow Clifford and Marcus (1986). I show how a reflexivity concerned with the text and the production of texts can only be stipulative in that it arrogates interpretive privilege to analysts suggesting that such a treatment may re-contextualise artefacts and accounts. I return to the themes of the first two chapters in my critique of this mode of reflexivity, saying that we must treat accounts in context if they are to remain 'phenomenologically intact'.

Against Reflexivity as an Academic Virtue and Source of Privileged Knowledge - Lynch Theory Culture Society.2000; 17:

Nativist Cosmopolitans: Institutional Reflexivity and the Decline of “Double-Consciousness” in American Nationalist Thought - Kaufmann E. - The Journal of Historical Sociology, Volume 14, Number 1, March 2001
Abstract: Debate in the field of historical sociology on the subject of American citizenship and nationality tends to support one of two theories. This paper suggests that the nineteenth century popularity of dualistic statements of American nationhood, and the eclipse of such conceptions in the twentieth, is a complex sociological phenomenon that can only fully be explained by taking into account the development of institutional reflexivity in the United States. -

Religious reflexivity and transmissive frequency
Abstract: The extent to which religious rituals foster a reflexive stance is influenced by transmissive frequency. Highly repetitive rituals may be reproduced on the basis of largely implicit procedural knowledge, somewhat constraining spontaneous exegetical reflection (and related experiences of religious doubt and skepticism). Rare, climactic rituals are reproduced via explicit procedural schemas, fostering a rich but gradual process of exegetical reflection.

Left of Ethnomethodology: The Rise and Decline of Radical Reflexivity 
Melvin Pollner, American Sociological Review, Vol. 56, No. 3 (Jun., 1991)
Abstract: The growing recognition of ethnomethodology has come at the expense of one of its most original and promising initiatives--radical reflexivity. Although prominent in early ethnomethodological work, the recognition that all renderings of reality--including those of the social scientist--are contingent accomplishments has diminished in contemporary studies. I describe the emergence and fall of radical reflexivity within ethnomethodology, the processes contributing to its diminishing role, and the implications of the decline. Because radical reflexivity breaches the taken-for-granted practices of disciplines purporting to describe reality, it is a vital resource for ethnomethodology and sociology generally.

Reflexivity and Narratives in Action Research: A Discursive Approach, Monica Colombo
Abstract: The paper offers an analysis of how narratives may be reflexively used at different stages of the research process as a tool to access the interpretative frameworks that actors use to construct their accounts of events and to make sense of their action. Action research can be seen as an ongoing process in which different narratives are co-produced allowing different interpretations to be actively constructed by participants. A case study is briefly presented where reflexivity is used both to clarify how accounts (narratives) are constructed (identifying concepts and categories used by participants to make sense of their action) and to allow different forms of knowledge to be developed by participants. Reflexivity is intended here as being inherently connected to action and as a part of the sense-making process in which both participants and the researcher are engaged.