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Reflexivity is a qualitative method of research that takes an ethnography one step further, displaying the personal thoughts and reflections of the anthropologist on his informants. Ethnographies generally take an outside or foreign perspective of a culture, like reading a text, and reflexivity introduces a new component of inside description. Here, the anthropologist may describe personal interactions and experiences with natives and use this inside information to make additional conclusions about the people being studied. The ethnographer may also reflect on his ethnic connections with his informants, or his acceptance into the society, explaining that it provides valuable, inside knowledge of the culture and ultimately leads to a greater understanding of the native people as a whole.

The importance of reflexivity is illustrated in Dissolution and Reconstitution of Self: Implications for Anthropological Epistemology, by anthropologist Dorinne Kondo. Her reflections lead her to realize that she has lost, or has almost lost, her identity as an American anthropologist and now sees herself as a young woman of Japanese culture. "What occurred in the field was a kind of fragmenting of identity into Japanese and American elements, so that the different strands, instead of interweaving to form a coherent whole, strained and tugged against one another" (78). As she became so immersed in the culture, Kondo began to understand and adopt cultural aspects that are unique to the Japanese, a thus adopted a new identity. At first, she practiced Japanese behavior to be socially accepted and gain the respect of her host family, but she was so successful that community members began to regard her as a fello...

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...and to view cultures differently in general. Some Anthropologists with postmodernist ideologies view cultures as "messy text", which is "the most complex and interesting form of experimentation with ethnographic writing now being produced" (Marcus, 187). The influence of Postmodernism also lead to the emergence of reflexivity. Various styles of reflexivity now exist, such as feminist, sociological, and anthropological. Reflexivity contributes to "messy text," because it identifies many cultural aspects ethnographers cannot explain nor understand and thus cannot be fitted, neatly into structure. Reflexivity is also influencing ethnographers to develop new approaches in studying culture. As we have reviewed in several ethnographies this semester, we see that personal reflections of the anthropologists is just as significant to fieldwork as the 'outsider' descriptions.

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