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Reflexive Governance for Research and Innovative Knowledge by Marc Maesschalck

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4Key Strengths of a Reflexive Theory of Governance

The critical discussion in Chapter 4 provides a clear definition of the fundamental epistemological issues surrounding a reflexive theory of governance. These issues are as follows: (1) the adoption of a theoretical position that attenuates the dominant force of reiteration that directs all collective action structures and encourages actors to maintain an imaginary relationship with the supposedly pregiven unity of their identities; (2) the development of the practical characteristics of a reflexive hypothesis that is coherent with this theoretical requisite.

First, however, we need to clearly define the meaning given to the term of reflexivity in this new context. Up to this point, we have simply described the mental operations allowing guidance, in various forms, of ongoing actions, while making use of the functions of a third-party element to enable focalization.

At the end of Chapter 3, an attempt was made to establish, progressively, another manner of proceeding. This approach was initially presented from a negative perspective by indicating a shortcoming of the method used previously. Considered from the outset as a mental capacity, reflexivity in all of its forms relied on a supposedly given form of action’s unity, which it imaginarily incorporated prior to, in some cases, contributing to its deconstruction. The “pregiven unity” of the action did not, therefore, only concern the structure of action, but also, indirectly, ...

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