While the importance of being reflexive is acknowledged within social science research, the difficulties, practicalities and methods of doing it are rarely addressed. Thus, the implications of current theoretical and philosophical discussions about reflexivity, epistemology and the construction of knowledge for empirical sociological research practice, specifically the analysis of qualitative data, remain underdeveloped. Drawing on our doctoral experiences, we reflect on the possibilities and limits of reflexivity during the interpretive stages of research. We explore how reflexivity can be operationalized and discuss reflexivity in terms of the personal, interpersonal, institutional, pragmatic, emotional theoretical epistemological and orthological influences on our research and data analysis processes. We argue that data analysis methods are not just neutral techniques. They reflect and are imbued with, theoretical, epistemological and ontological assumptions - including conceptions of subjects and subjectivities, and understanding of how knowledge is constructed and produced. In suggesting how epistemological and ontological positionings can be translated into research practice, our article contributes to current debates aiming to bridge the gap between abstract epistemology discussions and the nitty-gritty of research practice.
- data analysis
- qualitative research