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Etnography and Reflexivity

[journal article]

Cardano, Mario

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Please use the following Persistent Identifier (PID) to cite this document:http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0168-ssoar-371286

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Abstract This essay deals with a relevant and controversial topic – objectivity in ethnographic research. More specifically, I would like to examine how reflexive procedures, more precisely “reflexive account”, can increase the robustness of results gained through an ethnographic research. The essay is organized in five parts. I will start by giving a preliminary definition of the two key concepts which are at the center of the analysis – objectivity and reflexivity. I will then give a brief description of the epistemological framework in which the proposed conceptions of objectivity and reflexivity are located. Thirdly, I move on to consider the epistemic status of ethnographic research, and will emphasize that ethnographies are not just “theory-laden”, as many writers have stated, but also “praxis” or “procedure laden”. In other words, I will stress that it is not only theories which are inevitably embedded in research, influencing how observations can be made; much the same can also be said of the concrete research practices which contribute to determine the experience of the ethnographer and its representation in a text. Fourthly, I will discuss why it is useful to employ reflexive practices, and then immediately afterwards will illustrate the ways in which reflexive descriptions can contribute to greater objectivity of ethnographic accounts. In conclusion, I will discuss a number of objections which have been raised against this use of reflexivity.
Keywords ethnography; reflexivity; objectivity; epistemology; theory-practice
Classification Ethnology, Cultural Anthropology, Ethnosociology; Philosophy of Science, Theory of Science, Methodology, Ethics of the Social Sciences
Document language English
Publication Year 2014
Page/Pages p. 1-11
Journal European Quarterly of Political Attitudes and Mentalities, 3 (2014) 1
ISSN 2285-4916
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works