Reflexivity and the Sociological Study of the Military

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 18:30
Location: Hörsaal BIG 1 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Helena CARREIRAS, Instituto Universitario de Lisboa, Portugal
This presentation aims at uncovering the meaning and importance of reflexivity for the social scientific study of the military and report on the state of the field in this regard. It starts by addressing the role of reflexivity in social scientific research, exploring academic contributions that underline the social nature of research processes and the need for incorporating a reflexive gaze over all stages of scientific practice. In a second part, the presentation explores the way reflexivity has been present or absent in military studies, namely in the subfield of armed forces and society, through a selective review of existing literature. It argues that far from being a constraint, reflexivity is the very condition for the production of social scientific knowledge and for asserting the validity and reliability of research results.  While it also warns against inadequate uses of reflexivity as a rhetorical strategy or a narcissistic exercise, the central claim is that, by allowing a better understanding of the interplay between social, scientific and policy dynamics, reflexivity leads to greater awareness and conscious choices regarding the future of this study field.