Objectivity and Reflexivity in Social Science: Levels of Reflexivity

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  • Seeing things as they are
  • Value neutral or value free
  • No bias or prejudice
  • Attitude of investigator is detached
  • Values are backed by pre-conceived notions
  • Being independent from subjectivity
  • E. g. Verstehen Method by Weber


  • A part of epistemology
  • Nature of qualitative research is subjectivity
  • Recording how your beliefs and attitudes play a part in the research
  • Through Observations – self reference
  • Subjectivity is the center
  • Cause and effect
  • E. g. Researcher՚s background and socialization process can be in contrast with the subject group
  • Ability of the researcher to locate himself in the process of research
  • Critical awareness of one՚s own beliefs, biases
  • How the background, values. beliefs and attitudes of the researcher play a part in the research observations
  • Thoughts are written and attached to the results
  • The researcher՚s own personal reflection is recorded in the study
  • To find out about the reality out there or authentic

3 Types of Reflexivity Used in Qualitative Research


Confessional or realist stories


Reflexivity: Methodological
  • As a reminder or memo of procedure interpretation field notes hypothesis etc.
  • From Personal experience to public knowledge
  • Transformation of gut feeling into public data
  • Documentation
  • How they deal with the knowledge the gain at field
  • Transparency- audit trail --Why the researcher made that choice?


Reflexivity: Theoretical
  • Display of Biases and Prejudices
  • But difficult to tell
  • Talking about your own blind spots

Levels of Reflexivity

  • Low level – Researcher or individual is influenced by his environment and socialization
  • High level – Researcher or individual who has created his own beliefs and ideas


  • Reflexivity leads to greater awareness
  • Role of researcher in the construction of knowledge
  • Beyond taking in knowledge from observing subjects and transmitting it to larger audience
  • Knowledge comes out because of researcher՚s observation and assumptions
  • Choices of researcher as a writer and observer


Q. 1. What is the benefit of reflexivity?

a) It allows the researcher to be more self-aware

b) It allows for one research design.

c) It allows the researcher only to use a survey instrument.

d) It allows participants to be less self-aware

Ans: d)

Q. 2. A reflexive business researcher will be inclined to write about:

a) The effects that their values, biases and theoretical leanings might have had upon the data collection and analysis.

b) The way in which their findings are objectively truthful and valid.

c) The way in which their findings unfolded naturally and inevitably through logical deduction.

d) The unproblematic and straightforward procedures of designing research, building a rapport with participants, and interpreting the findings.

Ans: (a)



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