Self-reflexivity as the practice of empathy

Saija Katila, Susan Meriläinen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - This paper acts as a commentary on the paper 'Self-reflexivity scrutinized: (pro-)feminist men learning that gender matters' (Styhre and Tienari, 2013). Design/methodology/approach - The following discussion seeks to build on Styhre and Tienari's argumentation and points to arguments of agreement and disagreement. Findings - First, the authors argue that while self-reflexivity cannot be fully taken into account it would be detrimental to social change to restrict it to accidental, haphazard happenings. Second, they argue that perhaps Styhre and Tienari do not always take self-reflexivity far enough. In order to increase our understanding of why particular kinds of structural hierarchies take place in academia, it is important to locate these incidents within a system of practices that contribute to the marginalisation/privileging of certain groups of people. Practical implications - The authors further see it as a researcher's moral obligation to at least attempt to overcome the identity-related, cultural, political and structural conditions that make self-reflexivity difficult, tiresome and emotionally constraining. We should encourage ourselves to have an ongoing conversation with our whole self about what we are experiencing as we are experiencing it, not only after a critical incident has taken place. Originality/value - In conclusion, the authors are more inclined to argue along the lines of Alvesson et al., who see reflexivity as a skill or capacity that can be developed, while remaining in consensus with Styhre and Tienari that it can never be fully under the control of the researcher or practitioner.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-216
Number of pages6
JournalEquality, Diversity and Inclusion
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013
MoE publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal


  • Academia
  • Feminism
  • Gender
  • Self-reflexivity
  • Sex and gender issues
  • Whiteness


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