Jon Dean: Reflexivity and Its Limits in the Study of Social Inequalities. [Abstract]

This article argues that while great strides have been made in understanding the socially constructed nature of much empirical (qualitative) data, the challenge this presents to notions of “objective” social science, and therefore the requirement for all researchers to undertake reflexive work, there are limits to such undertakings. Against a vital social requirement for individuals to act reflexively in analysing their own positioning and privilege, I want to caution against placing too much emphasis on the emancipatory possibilities for researchers of being reflexive in data collection and analysis in the study of social inequalities. Using reflections from Matthew Desmond’s work on evictions in the US, the article argues that while personally and socially imperative, reflexivity’s central role must remain as a methodological guard against errors emerging from positioning and difference.

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