Toward Active Reflexivity: Positionality and Practice in the Production of Knowledge

Toward Active Reflexivity: Positionality and Practice in the Production of Knowledge

By Jessica Soedirgo, University of Toronto and Aarie Glas, Northern Illinois University

How should scholars recognize and respond to the complexities of positionality during the research process? Although there has been much theorizing on the intersectional and context-dependent nature of positionality, there remains a disjuncture between how positionality is understood theoretically and how it is applied. Ignoring the dynamism of positionality in practice has implications for the research process. This article theorizes one means of recognizing and responding to positionality in practice: a posture of “active reflexivity.” It outlines how we can become actively reflexive by adopting a disposition toward both ongoing reflection about our own social location and ongoing reflection on our assumptions regarding others’ perceptions. We then articulate four strategies for doing active reflexivity: recording assumptions around positionality; routinizing and systemizing reflexivity; bringing other actors into the process; and “showing our work” in the publication process.

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