Reflexivity—the critical examination of how we see the world—is integral to good research practice. From this state-of-the-art, accessible tour of its history and contemporary relevance, readers will learn of its importance to social research and to society generally. The text introduces a host of influential thinkers and their key ideas on reflexivity, and incorporates examples from a range of disciplines and research settings. Drawing on the authors’ extensive experience of real research settings, this book: • Pinpoints the importance of reflexivity in social research • Demonstrates its relevance to everyday life • Firmly locates the concept in the history of ideas • Explores key questions about the bases of knowledge and understanding • Presents key thinkers, concepts and issues in easy-to-understand learning boxes The result is a book that provides students and researchers in the social sciences with the knowledge and understanding necessary not only to examine the role of reflexivity in contemporary life, but to apply it in their own research practice.

Will, Interpretation and Being

Will, Interpretation and Being

Granted that nothing is ‘given’ as real except our world of desires and passions, that we can rise or sink to no other reality than the reality of our drives – for thinking is only the relationship of these drives to one another.

(Friedrich Nietzsche in Hollingdale 1977: 228)


In the last chapter we examined the history of ideas and their relation to reflexivity in terms of the exercise of reason, the senses, social institutions, customs, history and, finally, the forces and relations of capitalist production. We distinguished between different schools of thought on how we know ourselves, as human beings, and how these conceptions influenced the methods and techniques deployed to study and know the social world. We ...

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