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Leander (2002) Do we really need reflexivity in IPE? Bourdieu's two reasons for answering affirmatively

Leander, A. (2002). "Do we really need reflexivity in IPE? Bourdieu's two reasons for answering affirmatively." Review of International Political Economy 9(4): 601-609.

Leander, Anna
Publication date: 
Reflexivity, critical method

 This is a short introductory piece by Leander that gives a basic summary of Bourdieu's approach to reflexivity, and how it can be used to explore the impact of research on confronting and exposing the social hierarchies in which it is produced.

 Pierre Bourdieu has left us with an impressive life work. And, as my
co-authors in this colloquium, I am not going to embark on the impossible
mission of trying to summarize 'key contributions' or presenting
'Bourdieu in a nutshell'. That could only result in doing serious violence
to that work and the wealth of thinking it contains. Instead, in this
short piece I want to discuss one issue that is recurrent and central in
Bourdieu's work and which, at least so it seems to me, offers some useful
insights for work in IPE - namely the issue of 'reflexivity', or the reflection
on the own position as an observer of the social world.

 For Bourdieu reflexivity is an absolutely central concern. References to
'reflexive' sociology or anthropology abound. His training in philosophy
and ethnography is part of the explanation. However, so is his obsessive
interest with (re)production of social hierarchies, the role of the educational
system in this, and that is to say of the social hierarchies in
his own field (the educational system). But besides believing reflexivity
to be central in general, Bourdieu was convinced that reflexivity was of
heightened urgency at present. He introduces his last course at the College
de France by depicting a bleak vision of the (social) sciences 'threatened
by a worrying regression today' as the walls protecting it from outside
pressures are coming down for a variety of reasons, but first and
foremost because of the increased economic pressures placed on scientific
communities. It hence seems fair to both Bourdieu in general, and
what he spent his last course arguing for, to focus this contribution on

Fine, but what about the link between Bourdieu's approach to reflexivity
and IPE? Should IPE scholars really have to bother with something
widely perceived at best as the turf of PoMos or philosophers and at
worst as a useless nuisance? In what follows I will argue that they should.
I will use Bourdieu's sociological understanding of reflexivity to point
to two good reasons for (much more) reflexivity in IPE. First, reflexivity
is important for doing a good job in IPE and second, it is key to a critical
evaluation of the role IPE plays in shaping social reality and