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Reflexive Methodology

Reflexive Methodology
New Vistas for Qualitative Research

Second Edition

September 2009 | 360 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

Reflexive Methodology established itself as a groundbreaking success, providing researchers with an invaluable guide to a central problem in research methodology – how to put field research and interpretations in perspective, paying attention to the interpretive, political, and rhetorical nature of empirical research.

Now thoroughly updated, the Second Edition includes a new chapter on positivism, social constructionism, and critical realism, and offers new conclusions on the applications of methodology. It provides further illustrations and updates that build on the acclaimed and successful First Edition.

Reflexivity is an essential part of the research process. In this book, Mats Alvesson and Kaj Skoldberg make explicit the links between techniques used in empirical research and different research traditions, giving a theoretically informed approach to qualitative research. The authors provide balanced reviews and critiques of the major schools of grounded theory, ethnography, hermeneutics, critical theory, postmodernism and poststructuralism, discourse analysis, genealogy, and feminism.

This book points the way to a more open-minded, creative interaction between theoretical frameworks and empirical research. It continues to be essential reading for students and researchers across the social sciences.

Praise for the First Edition:

"Reflexive Methodology is a textbook indispensable to any young researcher. It does not tell its readers how to do research. It does something much more important: It shows how research has been done in the qualitative tradition, thus encouraging the readers to make their own choices." - Barbara Czarniawska, Goteborg University

"I would go so far as to argue that this book should be on the reading list of all social scientists and philosophers with an interest in the theory and practice of research."
- Prometheus

Introduction: The Intellectualization of Method
(Post-)Positivism, Social Constructionism, Critical Realism: Three Reference Points in the Philosophy of Science
Data-Oriented Methods: Empiricist Techniques and Procedures
Hermeneutics: Interpretation and Insight
Critical Theory: The Political and Ideological Dimension
Post-Structuralism and Postmodernism: Destabilizing Subject and Text
Language/Gender/Power: Discourse Analysis, Feminism and Genealogy
On Reflexive Interpretation: The Play of Interpretive Levels
Applications of Reflexive Methodology: Strategies, Criteria, Varieties

The quality coverage of theoretical and methodological approaches in previous chapters will give most researchers the tools to be able to attempt a reflexive interpretive process...There is a sense of richness, depth and argumentation that should satisfy most readers. Admirably, the narrative drive of the volume is never lost under the collective weight of the different approaches covered. The authors’ argument that qualitative researchers should be open to recognising and utilising a multiplicity of approaches is compelling, and in their framework for reflexive interpretation, they offer a persuasive and largely usable tool for doing so.

Qualitative Methods in Psychology

Excellent text, easily assimilated and ideal for looking at aspects of qualitative research to support theses, dissertations and projects

Mr Donald Lancaster
School of Management, Bath University
February 23, 2016

In opposition to most literature on 'how to conduct good social science research which is either empirically oriented or gives priority to theoretical and philosophical considerations, which tends to make empirical research look odd or irrelevant', this volume on 'Reflexive Methodology' explicitly turns towards a consideratin of the perceptual, cognitive, theoretical, linguistic, political and cultural circumstances as backdrop of data interpretation and research design. The authors define and stress 4 orientations indicating the reflexive areas in which the social schience researcher should be engaged. This framework of reflexive research is to be taken as a true enhancement in the fields of Theory of Methodology discourses! It showed up to be the most important and informative resource and a source of enlighenment to my lecture on methodology at our insitute. I can unanimously highly recommend the volume to lecturers and students alike!

Professor Sabine Troeger, Dr.
Geography Institute - Library, University of Bonn
January 1, 2016

A challenging but excellent text for those interested in this type of methodology

Dr Elaine McNichol
School of Healthcare, Leeds University
January 19, 2015

The book touches on all the issues involved varying qualitative research and validating the results by employing reflexivity. It is a great read for those who are not yet familiar with reflexivity consent and are planning to adopt it in their research design

Ms Irena Loveikaite
Department of Applied Arts, Waterford Institute of Technology
December 18, 2014

An excellent text for assisting students/researchers in understanding -- and in developing a thoughtful approach to -- epistemology for qualitative research studies.

Mr _ Rutherford
Media School, Bournemouth University
November 8, 2014

A helpful guide to reflixive research.

Mrs Michelle Grainger
Sheffield Centre, LifeSkills
July 5, 2014

As students try to discover their appraoches to research methodologies, this book provides a useful introduction to the many facets of qualitative methods.
It provides students who are studying at Postgraduate and doctoral level a comprehensive approach to these strategies and allows the reader to make informed choices as to their appraoches within this diverse area.
Thought provoking in a positive manner.

Mrs Anita McGowan
Humanities , Croydon College
June 12, 2014

This text is especially useful for those researching in Health & Social Care, and Education. Reflexivity is a key part of professional development and can be incorporated into research. I have recommended this book to my students as novice researchers who are grappling with the dynamic nature of qualitative research

Mrs Lyz Howard
Department of Health, Health and Social Care Teaching Team
May 2, 2014

This is a great book! Passionate and open about qualitative approaches. It is probably too in-depth for the course we run but I do encourage students to read it.

Dr Andy Cramp
School of Education, Wolverhampton University
July 11, 2013

New to the 2nd edition:

  • A chapter on positivism, social constructionism and critical realism
  • Conclusions on the applications of methodology
  • Further illustrations and updates

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Mats Alvesson

Mats Alvesson holds a chair in the Business Administration department at Lund University in Sweden and is also part-time professor at University of Queensland Business School and at City University, London. He has done extensive research and published widely in the areas of qualitative and reflexive methodology, critical theory, organizational culture, knowledge work, identity in organizations, gender, organizational change, leadership etc. His latest books include Reflexive Leadership (with Blom and Sveningsson, SAGE, 2016) and Return to Meaning: A Social Science with Something to Say (with Gabriel and Paulsen,... More About Author

Kaj Sköldberg

Kaj Sköldberg is Professor emeritus in Business Administration at the School of Business, University of Stockholm, Sweden. Research interests include the philosophy of science, social power, social identities, organization science, management science, complexity science, and the poetics of organizations. Published books include The Poetic Logic of Administration. Styles and Changes of Style in the Art of Organizing (2002), Tracks and Frames. The Economy of Symbolic Forms in Organizations (2002), and Maktens många ansikten (2014). More About Author

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ISBN: 9781848601116