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Reflexivity in Qualitative Research: Two Figurational Studies

By: , , , & Published: 2018 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2
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There has been something of a “reflexive shift” in sociological research. Sociological researchers are increasingly encouraged to be “present” within their work, and to recognize their own role in structuring the entire research process. One way to achieve this is through engagement in reflexive practice, that is, to reflect on our own values, beliefs, and biographies. It can be difficult to know exactly how a researcher should engage in these practices, however. Here, we discuss our reflexive practice in two case studies, both which utilized the same figurational theoretical framework and collected interview data from staff involved in the provision of physical activity for health. Study 1 focused on provision of Physical Activity to older adults in Copenhagen’s “Activity Centres,” while Study 2 investigated the delivery of Exercise Referral Schemes in a case-study county in the United Kingdom. Reflexive practice in both studies was affected by researcher biographies and by study design. In Study 1, both researchers were reasonably detached from the study context, the theoretical framework was in place from the very beginning, and reflexive practice was embedded in the study design. In Study 2, changes in study goals meant that retrospective reflexive practice was necessary, while the principal researcher had an established relationship with participants in the study, which made reflection on her perspective vital. We conclude by highlighting the importance of methodological and theoretical consistency in reflexive practice, which must also be attuned to the particular needs of a study and perspective of a researcher.

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