Reflexivity and women’s agency: a critical realist morphogenetic exploration of the life experience of Sri Lankan women

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Abstract

While the vital contribution of feminist scholarship is acknowledged, it has been criticized for overly relying on the influence of society upon women’s lives. In this paper, I demonstrate the usefulness of also considering the influence of agency upon women’s lives, specifically agential reflexivity. Using the work and life histories of a group of Sri Lankan women, I use Margaret Archer’s morphogenetic approach to show how investigating reflexivity can provide greater insights into the subtleties associated with women’s agency in relation to how they consciously (but fallibly) organize their life journeys and react to oppression, demonstrate resistance and effect emancipation. My research reveals latent aspects of women’s agency within a postcolonial Third World social context, where an enduring patriarchal social system intersects with modernity and subjects women to complex social and occupational circumstances. This paper contributes to the field of women’s studies by showing how the morphogenetic approach can address the problem of conflationary theorizing within feminist scholarship.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-401
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Critical Realism
Volume16
Issue number4
Early online date10 Jul 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2017

Keywords

  • emergent powers
  • morphogenetic approach
  • reflexivity
  • Sri Lanka
  • women
  • Women’s agency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy

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