Reflexivity and CultureTheorising culture as mediatory
Prioritising Deciding Rehearsing Worrying Imagining Budgeting Reliving Planning Archer (2007) defines reflexivity as “the regular exercise of themental ability, shared by all normal people, to consider themselves in relation to their social contexts and vice versa”.
• Reflexivity manifests itself through the internal conversation i.e. the conversations we have with ourselves, silently and internally, rather than with external others.• Such conversations are a mundane part of our daily lives and, Archer suggests, this very „everyday‟ quality may account for the process involved attracting such little theoretical or empirical scrutiny.• In fact she argues that this capacity for reflexivity, which the internal conversation embodies, mediates between structure and agency.• Through internal conversation an individual subjectively determines their practical projects in relation to their objective circumstances i.e. through such inner deliberations an individual takes stock of the situation they confront, as well as their own desires and concerns, before deciding on a course of action.• Structural phenomena (e.g. the credit crunch), are confronted by people through the situations they shape for agency (e.g. the unavailability of credit) and it is through the internal conversations of the individuals impacted that objective circumstances come to shape subjective projects (e.g. an individual decides to rent rather than buy a property because of the newfound unavailability of financing).
Culture as Mediation• The interface between objectivity and subjectivity is crucial to sociological explanation.• Without an account of the specificity of each domain, we are left with what Derek Layder calls „conceptual singularities‟ and their „black holes‟ ▫ as he puts it, “the argument that the social world can be represented by conceptual singularities means that the black holes that surround them „eat up‟ large chunks of social reality and leave us with a severely impoverished, emptied-out vision of the social world”.• Instead he advocates “mediating concepts” which “reflect a dual emphasis on the effects of objective and subjective aspects of social life”.• Archer‟s recent work has begun this process for structure.• My research is an attempt to do the same thing for culture.• This presentation is a first attempt to sketch out some of the ideas for what will be my main theory chapter.
Socio-Cultural Interaction The Cultural SystemCausal relations between people Logical relations between ideasRelations of power / influence / persuasion Karl Popper‟s world 3Freely chosen / forced upon us Different degrees of ideational diversity in different environments What does this mean for the life of the subject?1. The webs of relationships – both chosen and given – which a subject is embedded within.2. The ideas sought by the subject and the ideas available to the subject.How does the practice of reflexivity relate to the socio-cultural and the cultural system? Are there clear patterns in this relationship?
Webs of Interlocution Propositional CultureChange in the self Ideas as cognitive framesChange in the other Ideas as reflexive resourcesChange in the network The ideational environment Generic Process:Cultural Mediation by Reproductive orReproduction or the Person TransformatoryTransformation (different Action modalities)Webs of interlocution Webs of interlocution (stasis / change) (self/other/network)Propositional culture Propositional culture (stasis / change) (framing / reflexive / environmental) Initiation Mediation
My PhD Research• A longitudinal study of reflexivity and culture in the lives of 20 students at a British university• Termly interviews over the course of their degree• Developing social theory in an iterative fashion.• Refining my theoretical account over time in dialogue with my empirical data.