The Everyday Benefit of Reflexivity


Reflexivity is the process of becoming self-aware. Humanitarian actors and those they seek to support are often encouraged to make regular efforts to consider their thoughts and actions in light of different contexts.


Reflexive practice, challenges assumptions, ideological illusions, damaging social and cultural biases, inequalities, and questions personal behaviours that perhaps silence the voices of others or otherwise marginalise them (Bolton and Delderfield, 2017), it helps people self-reflect and learn about themselves, the power of their experiences and how they relate to home, work, relationships, the wider society and culture.


Is it fair to say, that this is a practice that we all should give regular thought to? should we all be more mindful of the everyday origins of our day-to-day thoughts and biases?


Kaufman states, “in order to see the big picture you have to have an understanding of the more narrow view through which you see the world” (Kaufman 2012). .....he goes on to suggest that, the more you do this, the more critically introspective you will become. And as you develop this deeper reflexivity, you will simultaneously cultivate your sociological imagination and the ability to consider how we are all uniquely framing our observations and actions.


There is a powerful value in recognising that reflexivity is about acknowledging your role within the project/family/ organisation etc. Your prior experiences, assumptions and beliefs will influence the position you take on all aspects of life. Personal reflexivity is a type of critical reflection about the position you are taking and how you have taken this stance into account in your approach to life. It is an important way to establish a thoughtful appreciation of others and their actions


There are many ways to be reflexive, for many this may mean being attentive to:

*Cultural, political, social, and ideological origins of your perspective and voice.

*The perspectives and voices of those you encounter or watch on the news.

*The perspectives of those with whom you socialise or are related to.


This is a fabulous subject to explore, it isn't as straight forward as my question above may indicate. The paper, The Emotionalization of Reflexivity by Mary Homes and Pierre Bourdieu's problem of reflexivity has kept me awake at nights.


Image Credit : Nele Azevedo