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The article seeks to develop and apply new quantitative measurement instruments capable of significantly improving understanding of the relationship between the transnational mobility and transnational social ties of students, along with their reflexive capacities. With a focus on students building their personal networks, educational and professional activities that extend beyond the nation's borders and organising their day-to-day routines in transnational social spaces, we analyse the role of mobility in their reflexive capacities. Applying a tool that is line with Archer's theory and indicators to measure reflexivity, and transnational social ties as proposed by Molina et al., we analyse data collected via an on-line survey questionnaire administered to Slovenian students. In addition, students from the Middle East (Lebanon) and the USA (Hawai'i) are added for comparative purposes. The results of path analysis show the Slovenian students' mobility as such implies higher scores for meta reflexivity, combined with lower scores for communicative and fractured reflexivity. Further, social transactions reaching beyond one's physical localities in terms of transnational social ties implies they have higher levels of reflexivity in general.
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social sciences
Article
Student Mobility and Transnational Social Ties as
Factors of Reflexivity
Tea Golob 1and Matej Makaroviˇc 1, 2, *
1School of Advanced Social Studies in Nova Gorica, Institute for Social Transformations, Gregorˇciˇceva 19,
SI-5000 Nova Gorica, Slovenia; tea.golob@fuds.si
2Faculty of Information Studies, Ljubljanska 31a, SI-8000 Novo mesto, Slovenia
*Correspondence: matej.makarovic@fuds.si; Tel.: +386-41-621-619
Received: 29 October 2017; Accepted: 13 March 2018; Published: 16 March 2018
Abstract:
The article seeks to develop and apply new quantitative measurement instruments capable
of significantly improving understanding of the relationship between the transnational mobility and
transnational social ties of students, along with their reflexive capacities. With a focus on students
building their personal networks, educational and professional activities that extend beyond the
nation’s borders and organising their day-to-day routines in transnational social spaces, we analyse
the role of mobility in their reflexive capacities. Applying a tool that is line with Archer’s theory and
indicators to measure reflexivity, and transnational social ties as proposed by Molina et al., we analyse
data collected via an on-line survey questionnaire administered to Slovenian students. In addition,
students from the Middle East (Lebanon) and the USA (Hawai’i) are added for comparative purposes.
The results of path analysis show the Slovenian students’ mobility as such implies higher scores for
meta reflexivity, combined with lower scores for communicative and fractured reflexivity. Further,
social transactions reaching beyond one’s physical localities in terms of transnational social ties
implies they have higher levels of reflexivity in general.
Keywords: reflexivity; transnational personal ties; students; mobility
1. Introduction
The development of the technology underpinning today’s transport and communication activity
has dramatically impacted our social practices and imaginary landscapes. Only a few decades ago, no
one could imagine a casual conversation with someone on the other side of the world, even looking
at what they are doing, wearing, or simply chatting with friends, but from afar. Nowadays, we take
all of this for granted. As described by David Harvey (Harvey 1989), the tremendous changes in
our lifestyles have, by way of the compression of time and space, some time ago become part of a
common repertoire of our perceptions and social constructions. The fact contemporary society has
become ever more globalised and individualised makes mobility a key concept in understanding major
transformations on different levels of society. Mobility permeates our everyday lives and is drastically
altering our social reality, whether we are aware of it or not.
We have all become mobile to some extent, given that mobility means far more than just physical
movement. It can also be communicative, imaginative, and virtual (Urry 2007), which correspond
to a changing social order. We can imagine local orders of interconnections that extend far across
physical localities and national imagined communities. We can observe and participate in distant
events via virtual tools or at least absorb information through television or these days increasingly
other media. There are different ways and different intensities of mobility that might contribute to
different outcomes for individuals and social groups.
Although we are all somewhat mobile, what is crucial is the manner and intensively of our
mobility. Recent studies (Salamo ´nska and Recchi) on cross-border and transnational movements
Soc. Sci. 2018,7, 46; doi:10.3390/socsci7030046 www.mdpi.com/journal/socsci
Soc. Sci. 2018,7, 46 2 of 18
in the EU context emphasise two different extremes among people, meeting Lash and Urry (1994)
definition of winners and losers in modern society. The former group includes so-called transnationals
who are actively mobile in all forms, while the other extreme typically consists of locals, firmly
embedded in their local and national frameworks. Although one might consider that browsing the
web, communicating by mobile phone, occasionally traveling and watching TV certainly have an
impact on one’s imagination (Appadurai 1996), what counts is being regularly and actively involved
in the production of social spaces that exceed local and national boundaries.
The article tackles mobility practices that seem especially relevant when observing young people.
For them, mobility implies making contacts and acquaintances outside of their local and national
societies, encountering new cultural patterns and being part of a changing social environment. Young
people are not just mobile in a “classic” way of backpacking and travelling across countries and
continents (Graburn 1983;Matthews 2008), but are also experiencing global changes, transnational
connectivity, and technological development, referring to digital communication and mass mediation
in their everyday practices. They are producing social relations and meanings within social spaces that
reach beyond national contexts.
Our study deals with students’ transnational mobility in higher education. This mobility can be seen
as a special type of international migration typically motivated not by economic factors but by the desire
to travel, gain experience, and for leisure (King 2012;
Van Mol and Timmerman 2014
). Although mobility
indicates a shorter time span, usually less than a one-year stay (King and Raghuram 2013), it is argued
(Van Mol and Michielsen 2015) that mobile students still undergo certain migrant-specific processes. Their
decisions to leave and their subsequent social dynamics of mobility depend significantly on pre-existing
social networks and on those yet to emerge during the period of mobility (
Van Mol and Michielsen 2015
).
In the host country, mobile students seek a home and, to participate in the social life, they must
adapt to the new cultural environment and develop fresh social relations (Murphy-Lejeune 2002).
They thereby acquire a variety of employability skills, interpersonal and intercultural competencies
(
Waters and Brooks 2011
). On one hand, student mobility is an outcome of social stratification
since mobile students more likely to come from higher social strata (Waters and Brooks 2011;
Cairns 2014
). On the other hand, it can be tool to help overcome social constraints, while enhancing a
person’s reflexivity.
Student mobility implies involvement in all types of mobility. We argue that being actively
mobile in in a variety of ways ensures that constructing a self occurs in a constant confrontation
with ambivalent meanings that cause certain identity crises and clashes. In such circumstances,
the referential frames substantiating one’s self-perceptions and identifications become multiple,
contested and ever-changing. Considering the latter, the underlying assumption made in the text is
that there is a crucial difference between individuals who are chiefly wedded to their local and national
environment and those who regularly participate in transnational social spheres that extend over
national borders. In that regard, the article’s central purpose is to develop and apply new quantitative
measurement instruments so as to significantly contribute to understanding of the relationship between
the transnational mobility and social ties of students, as well as their reflexive capacities.
2. Connecting Mobility, Transnational Contexts, and Reflexivity
Our discussion of the idea of reflexivity stems from interpretations of social changes and
transformations linked to the expansive changes in communication technologies and structures.
Reflexivity has become an important concept in the social theory mostly associated with Beck, Giddens,
and Lash, and has offered an intellectual framework for interpreting modernity to a wider range of
theorists, from Habermas to various postmodernists such as Lyotard, Bauman, Touraine, and Melucci
(for more, see (Delanty 2000)). Reflexivity is associated with individualism and individualisation
and refers to the relationship between subjectivity (Oneself) and objectivity (Other). It is a means of
mediation that links subjective and objective domains (Delanty 2000). Reflexivity as a category of
mediation has been systematically explored by Giddens in his structuration theory (Giddens 1984),
Soc. Sci. 2018,7, 46 3 of 18
which emphasises the dialectical interplay of agency and structure, and sees structural properties as
both the medium and outcome of practices. People engage in practices and it is through those practices
that both consciousness and structure are produced. Giddens (Giddens 1991) has also argued that
in late modern societies reflexivity plays a major role in self-identity. Giddens attributes individuals
with the ability to make a difference in the social world as their everyday activities seem to have a
global impact. By monitoring the continuing flow of activities and structural settings, the individual
lives a reflexively organised biography. Institutional positions determining individuals have started to
present not just events and conditions influencing their lives, but at a minimum the consequences of
the decisions they make on their own (Beck 1992). However, it has been argued that those perspectives
view reflexivity more as the ability to self-monitor and neglect personal creativity and imagination
(Mutch 2010). Attention should also be paid to ideas of the individual’s uniqueness and the ability to
identify oneself and others within the unique world of thoughts, feelings, and performances. Further,
it has been argued that Giddens exaggerates the degree of reflexivity and overlooks the limited capacity
of individuals to reflect and their willingness to act upon the consequences (Mutch 2010).
When conceptualising reflexivity, we lean considerably on Archer ’s perspectives as she argues
for analytical dualism and rejects the conflation between structure and agency (Archer 2003). In that
regard, reflexivity is not just a reflection referring to self-transcendence, merely implying that one is
capable of observing oneself as an object, but it also leads to deliberate actions. Each person has their
own private space and exercises reflexive deliberations, yet there are some conditions that influence
whether one can evaluate the situation in which she or he is embedded, such as enablements or
constraints acting as potential causal powers of social emergent properties (Archer 2003,2012).
The conscious deliberations and unconscious reproductions of the external social contexts vary
among individuals and depend on the individual’s social embeddedness in the social environment
and the specifically constructed social context in the moment of internal mental activity. Here Archer
(Archer 2003) distinguishes: (a) communicative reflexivity: the context is stable and continuous;
internal conversations need to be confirmed and completed by others before they lead to action;
(b) autonomous reflexivity: the initial context itself lacks stability, internal conversations are self-contained,
leading directly to action; (c) meta reflexivity: which acquires a driving ultimate concern, internal
conversations that critically evaluate previous inner dialogues and are critical about effective action in
society; and (d) fractured: internal conversations cannot lead to purposeful courses of action, they lead
to personal disorientation in action. On the basis of reflexivity, individuals adopt certain ‘stances’ on
society, which constitute the micro-macro link and produce the ‘active agent’.
Therefore, reflexive deliberations take place through inner conversation, which enables different
modes of reflexivity to emerge. Archer (2003), for instance, argues that different time periods
induce particular modes of reflexivity. In traditional societies, the dominant mode of reflexivity
is a communicative one, as it is collectivistic towards the social. Modernity enabled autonomous
reflexivity, which is accommodative towards the social. In recent decades, new unpredictable and
uncertain social areas have emerged that have influenced a number of transitions in everyday life.
Structural uncertainties have increased the importance of meta-reflexivity, which is transcendental
towards the social, and also allows a sub-category of fractured reflexivity to emerge.
The particular mode of reflexivity to emerge and become a subject’s personal property refers to
the nexus between a context contributed by the socio-cultural structure, and concerns contributed
by active agents. Based on reflexivity, individuals adopt certain ‘stances’ on society which constitute
the micro-macro link and produce the ‘active agent’ (Archer 2003,2012). Having a personal identity,
as defined by individuals having their own configurations of concerns, they are able to decide what
they care about most and what they seek to realise in society (Archer 2003). In that light, reflexivity
is a key mechanism of social change, taking shape through the relationship between individual and
structure, but always in the individual domain (Archer 2003). Individuals reflexively influence their
actions; by so doing, they simultaneously influence the social structure. Seen this way, reflexivity is a
mediator between structure and agency.
Soc. Sci. 2018,7, 46 4 of 18
So how is reflexivity linked to mobility? As Archer (2003) shows, internal conversations leading
to reflexivity have been shown to be radically varied and shaped by the interplay of the social situation
and the personal concerns of agents. As part of this formation, differential access to resources (cognitive
and physical) is crucial (Mutch 2010;Archer 2003). Mobility can be seen as a source for enhancing
reflexive capacities, which enable better adjustment to the social order while also offering a range of
lifestyle varieties for someone to choose. Here it has been shown that mobility strategies can influence
one’s adaptation to European societies to a certain extent (Andreotti et al. 2013, p. 3). It has also been
examined as a reflexive decision embracing ideas of lifestyle migration (Benson 2010), self-searching
migration (Kato 2013) and liquid migration (Engbersen et al. 2010). One study, on student mobility
(European Union 2014), revealed that students who engage in study mobility are half as likely to suffer
long-term unemployment compared to others. It showed the unemployment rate of mobile students
was 23% lower, even five years after graduation. They are also more likely to occupy managerial
positions (on a low and medium level). Further, they are also better endowed with transversal skills
such as language competencies, communication, problem-solving, and intercultural understanding
due to spending study periods abroad. Besides finding jobs and transversal skills, mobility plays
a protagonist role in material and symbolic practices marking the transition from adolescence to
adulthood (Thomson and Taylor 2005). By traveling, young people obtain individual control over their
lives as travel offers a scenario of the individualised construction of the self (Bagnoli 2009).
However, differences are likely to arise not just between mobile (being on a student exchange)
and non-mobile (not on a student exchange) individuals, but also those who are actively mobile in
the long run and the others. An important indicator is not simply the mobility experience per se,
but the regularity of social practices and interactions in the transnational social sphere. Abilities to
reflexively deliberate upon the social context and different modes of such reflexivity in individual
cognition (Archer 2003) are influenced by the involuntary agential position of the individual that is
given by birth and also by their access to the resources ensuing from it and from further life stances.
Another considerable role is played by ‘interactional’ and ‘figurational’ inter-relations (Mouzeis 2007).
The latter have a substantial impact on how individuals contextualise the social environment, i.e., their
semantics of (self)-description resulting in reflexive deliberations.
We hypothesise that the more individuals actively participate in different social environments
(local, national, and transnational), the more they are confronted with the multiple and ambivalent
meanings of social orders (Golob 2016). The contested and overlapping semantics offered by the social
environment should somehow force individuals to actively respond to a social context. We hypothesise
that regular presence in trans-local or transnational social environments enables access to various
resources (social, cultural, economic, etc.), which enhances the individual’s reflexive and agential
emergent properties. We understand this presence as the frequency of transnational social ties,
implying the number of direct contacts with alters in the egocentric network who live in a country
different to the ego.
Transnationalism generally refers to the processes, activities, people and their ties across national
borders (Portes et al. 1999). Based on contacts with transnational alters, certain types of transnational
practices emerge that connect people through social and symbolic ties. These people are thus
encouraged to become involved in the production of particular transnational social spaces (
Faist 2000
).
It has been argued (
Basch et al. 1994, p. 1
) they are engaged in networks, activities, and patterns of life
which encompass both their host and home societies. Networks have turned out to be particularly
significant for students’ mobility (Van Mol and Michielsen 2015), especially within Europe. While it
has been shown that social networks form right after arrival, empirical evidence also demonstrates
that certain interaction and networks are formed before the actual period of mobility (Van Mol and
Michielsen 2015). On one hand, these networks do not encourage transnationalism since students tend
to socialise with their fellow nationals. On the other, the transnational component is paramount: first,
because mobile students maintain transnational contacts with their local and national environments
Soc. Sci. 2018,7, 46 5 of 18
(Gargano 2009) and, second, because new contacts in the host society are added to the existing
social network.
When paying attention to student mobility and their transnational social networks, we must
consider the development of their transnational personal ties, their social positioning in the national
environment, specific national semantic contexts, and students’ reflexive considerations, including the
different types of reflexivity they employ.
We see individuals as experiencing the world indirectly, through their thoughts and perceptions,
whereas observations of a wide variety of environments stimulate self-observations and consciousness
(Luhmann 1999). Different national (and transnational) contexts stimulate individuals’ mental activities
in different ways. An important role is played by discursive influences presenting semantic variations
of reality (Hasan 2009), which substantiate a person’s perceptions. Through structural coupling,
the way, in which individuals describe themselves, results in their contextualisation of the social
semantics leading to their personal or collective identities.
While our study focuses on Slovenian students, it also provides some tentative insights regarding
a comparison of individuals coming from different structural and semantic national contexts.
On that basis, we can identify three main questions that call for empirical testing:
1. Is mobility a significant factor in enhancing the reflexive capacities of the students?
2.
Is there a relationship between the students’ transnational social ties, their mobility, and their
reflexive capacities?
3.
Are there any other relevant impacts on reflexivity from the environments of the students,
including both their national contexts and their family backgrounds?
3. Methodology
Our research questions are based on a broad range of studies dealing with the issues of mobility,
transnationalism and/or reflexivity described above. What is clearly missing in the existing research,
however, are proper measurement tools combined within a single study—to use quantitative research
methods to examine what links students’ mobility, their transnational social ties and their reflexive
capacities. Our research thus entails three main steps.
First, we operationalised the key theoretical concepts to develop the instruments to measure
reflexivity levels, reflexivity types, transnational social ties and mobility. Here, we were not only able
to build on existing theory and research but to improve and adapt it to suit our research focus on
the students. The development of the primary measurement instruments is described in the next
two sections.
Second, we applied our measurement instruments in an on-line administered questionnaire.
We obtained our samples from different sampling frames:
-
The sampling frame targeted the sub-population of Slovenian students registered as participants
in student exchanges by their universities’/faculties’/departments’ international offices—all
Slovenian higher education institutions were contacted and asked to distribute the survey.
The entire sub-population was thus targeted but encountered a limited response—first, at the
level of the international offices, then among individual students.
-
In order to provide a control group, we targeted Slovenian students generally using direct contacts,
e-mails, and social media. The majority of them reported not having engaged in transnational
student mobility, while those who did were grouped together with the mobile students from the
first sampling frame.
The final sample used to build our statistical explanatory model contains 146 respondents from
Slovenian higher education institutions. Given the limited responses within the first sampling frame
and the convenience sampling for the second one, we also cannot speak about representative probability
sampling. This clearly hindered the potential for broader generalisation but is sufficient for initially
testing the connection between reflexivity, transnational personal ties, and mobility.
Soc. Sci. 2018,7, 46 6 of 18
In addition, using the same on-line survey questionnaire we targeted students from a high-ranking
university in Hawai’i and a private American university in Lebanon to include some other world
regions: USA-Pacific-Asia, and the Middle East. For these additional comparisons, 30 respondents
from Hawai’i and 12 respondents from Lebanon are used, which might be relevant for future research,
but not for our explanatory model: because both foreign samples are quite small and limited to a single
(comparatively high-ranking) academic institution.
Finally, we conducted statistical analysis, first through some basic quantitative techniques and
then through path analysis of the Slovenian sample. The intention was to test the hypothesised
causal relationships among the key variables, especially between mobility, having transnational
personal ties, levels and types of reflexivity, while controlling for certain other potentially relevant
background variables.
4. Measuring Reflexivity
To test the relationship between reflexivity and the presence of transnational social ties among
higher education students, we first need to develop a tool to measure reflexivity. Moreover, we should
operationalise the concept of transnational mobility for the students and quantify their transnational
social ties.
The key steps in quantifying the issue of reflexivity as understood by Archer were initially
provided in her own Internal Conversation Indicator—ICONI (Mutch 2010) clearly showing that
this complex theoretical concept can be operationalised for use in questionnaires. The measurement
instrument was further developed by Porpora and Shumar (2010) who used a battery of five statements
to measure levels of reflexivity, selected from Archer
'
s original instrument. Using five-level Likert
scales, they asked respondents to determine the frequency of the following actions:
plan your own future;
rehearse what you would say in an important conversation;
imagine the best and worst consequences of a major decision;
review a conversation that ended badly; and
clarify thoughts about some issue, person or problem (Porpora and Shumar 2010, p. 212).
They asked the respondents whether each of these actions had been done in their own minds
(as a supposed measure of autonomous reflexivity) and/or in talk with family and friends (communicative
reflexivity). They further combine meta reflexivity with the autonomous and communicative forms of
it (Golob 2016, pp. 212–16).
However, while their instrument has a clear strength in providing the reflexivity levels and
acknowledging that reflexivity types are not mutually exclusive, their operationalisation of reflexivity
types is questionable. It is no surprise they find that purely communicative reflexivity (compared to
autonomous or ‘full’ reflexivity is quite rare, i.e., one per cent of their sample). One can hardly imagine
people talking about something with other people without also considering it in their own minds or,
in other words, talking about something without thinking about it. In fact,
Porpora and Shumar (2010)
operationalisation of the two reflexivity ‘styles’ is problematic because communicative reflexivity
should not simply be seen as ‘talking’ with other people but as looking for confirmation of one’s
own reflexive deliberation in one’s social environment—something not needed by autonomously
reflexive individuals.
While Porpora-Shumar’s instrument can be used to determine the levels of reflexivity, it struggles
to provide a valid measure for the reflexivity types. We therefore suggest further development of
the instrument.
Soc. Sci. 2018,7, 46 7 of 18
First, we apply the same set of five items, each with a five-level Likert scale ranging from 0
(never) to 4 (all the time), to determine the level of reflexivity (ranging from 0 to 20 in total, since a
respondent can gain up to four points for each of the five statements). Unfortunately, Porpora and
Shumar do not report whether their reflexivity is based on a combination of the five questions, is truly
a one-dimensional concept or, in other words, whether the five different items truly measure the same
thing. Regarding our own adaptation of their set of five statements, we found that our instrument is
one-dimensional, with an acceptable value for the Cronbach alpha reliability test (0.70).
Second, we developed an alternative measure of the reflexivity types where each statement listed
in Table 1indicates a certain reflexivity type.
Table 1. Statements indicating different reflexivity types.
Reflexivity Type Type of reflexivity indicator: five-level Likert scale each transformed into scores from 0 (never)
to 4 (all the time): During the last year, how often did you . . .
Communicative Make important decisions with full agreement and support of the people close to you only.
Autonomous
Make important decisions based on your own best judgement regardless of what others think or say.
Meta Carefully consider the key priorities of your life and why you are doing what you are doing.
Fractured Feel lost and did not know at all what to do because of the things happening around you.
The statements in Table 1, however, should not, as such, be seen as indicators of
reflexivity—without combining them with the reflexivity levels. For instance, individuals can make
decisions with or without the full agreement of others but neither of these necessarily means such
decisions are linked to reflexivity. Decisions may arise from sudden impulses or traditional habits—not
reflexivity. Consequently, the frequencies of behaviours listed in Table 1should only be seen as
indicators of different reflexivity types when combined with the levels of reflexivity measured by the
five statements presented above. We establish this combination by simply multiplying the scores for
the reflexivity level (from 0 to 20) with each score for the reflexivity types (from 0 to 4). The final score
for each reflexivity type combined with the reflexivity intensity is thus between 0 (minimal reflexivity
of the given type) and 80 (maximal reflexivity for the given type). The calculations are presented
systematically in Table 2.
Unlike the one by Porpora and Shumar (2010), our measurement instrument does not make an
arbitrary binary opposition between reflexive and non-reflexive persons (they attempt to soften this
arbitrariness by distinguishing between absolute and comparative perspectives). Such an opposition
would be questionable since we are dealing with a Likert scale, not binary variables. We thus do not
see people as divided between reflexive and non-reflexive but as being more and less reflexive.
Soc. Sci. 2018,7, 46 8 of 18
Table 2. Calculation of the reflexivity scores explained.
Plan Your Own
Future (L1)
Rehearse What
You Would Say in
an Important
Conversation (L2)
Imagine the Best
and Worst
Consequences of a
Major Decision (L3)
Review a
Conversation That
Ended Badly (L4)
Clarify Thoughts
about Some Issue,
Person or Problem (L5)
Total Score for Reflexivity Type (TS)
Reflexivity Type
(5-Level Likert
Scale for Each Item)
Reflexivity Level
(5-Level Likert
Scale for Each Item)
Communicative (T1) S1c= L1 ×T1 S2c= L2 ×T1 S3c= L3 ×T1 S4c= L4 ×T1 S5c= L4 ×T1 TSc= S1c+ S2c+ S3c+ S4c+ S5c
Autonomous (T2) S1a= L1 ×T2 S2a= L2 ×T2 S3a= L3 ×T2 S4a= L4 ×T2 S5a= L4 ×T2 TSa= S1a+ S2a+ S3a+ S4a+ S5a
Meta (T3) S1m= L1 ×T3 S2m= L2 ×T3 S3m= L3 ×T3 S4m= L4 ×T3 S5m= L4 ×T3 TSm= S1m+ S2m+ S3m+ S4m+ S5m
Fractured (T4) S1f= L1 ×T4 S2f= L2 ×T4 S3f= L3 ×T4 S4f= L4 ×T4 S5f= L4 ×T4 TSf= S1f+ S2f+ S3f+ S4f+ S5f
Thresholds 0 S1 16 0 S2 16 0 S3 16 0 S4 16 0 S5 16 0 TS 80
Thresholds for the reflexivity level
(R=L1+L2+L3+L4+L5) 0L1+L2+L3+L4+L520
Soc. Sci. 2018,7, 46 9 of 18
5. Measuring the Mobility and Personal Transnational Social Ties of the Students
Different types of student mobility could be viewed as relevant indicators. In studies on student
mobility, one can differentiate spontaneous and organised student mobility, which is the most common
type in Europe due to the institutionalised Erasmus programme (Waters and Brooks 2011). Student
mobility can be either intra-European or inter-continental, either an exchange (within the Erasmus
study exchange framework or outside it) or degree-seeking. However, the present study does not
aim to detect differences in various types of student mobility but how such mobility, regardless of
the different types, affects the students’ reflexivity. Nevertheless, the duration of mobility must be
taken into account since a longer period of mobility may generate a stronger impact. We asked the
respondents whether they had ever spent at least one month or more (and, if so, how many months) in
another country for study purposes. We included all levels of study (BA, MA, and PhD) and did not
explicitly distinguish them due to the comparatively small overall sample size. However, we have
controlled our model for students’ age.
While it may be hypothesised that mobility is related to higher reflexivity scores, a crucial variable
that is linked to them both is the presence of students’ transnational social ties. The latter is the next
element we have to operationalise. In this regard, we mostly drew on the work of Molina et al. (2014).
Thus, we measured the students’ transnational social ties through their “personal networks [as] an
intermediate level of analysis, in which both agency and institutional constraints can be studied
simultaneously” (Molina et al. 2014, p. 2). While considering transnational social ties it is not only
important for the ties to be present, but also that they are dense and continuous. Another important
element is whether the ties derive from the private sphere (such as family, friendship, romantic ties) or
the sphere of business, career and study.
In our own research, each respondent was thus first asked to list 20 persons “important in your
current life, including your family, friends, acquaintances, colleagues, business contacts etc.”. They
were then asked to provide basic information about each of these persons (or alters in the egocentric
network). This information includes:
The frequency of contacts: “How often did you contact this person, including web and
phone-based communication, in the last year?” (Never/Less than once a month/At least once a
month but not every week/At least once a week but not every day/Almost every day);
The number of years for which the alter has been known to the respondent (“For how long have
you known this person?”);
The sphere of life related to the alter: “Is the person related to”
. . .
“your private life” or “your
study, business, career etc.”;
The alter’s country of origin (“What is this person’s country of origin?”) and country of current
residence (“Where does the person live now?”).
Based on the country in which the respondent has spent most of his/her life and each alter’s
current country of residence, we identified whether an alter can be considered transnational or not.
The number of transnational alters identified by each ego (respondent) was then used as a measure of
personal transnational social ties.
6. Descriptive Statistics
Based on our samples of students, we have no reason to believe that student mobility as such
increases reflexivity levels. For the Slovenian students, the mean reflexivity level is 13.2, with no significant
difference between mobile (13.1) and non-mobile ones (13.4). With a score of 14.8, the differences
between Slovenia and Hawai’i are also nonsignificant. Yet the score for Lebanon (16.5) is somewhat
higher. Due to the small sample sizes, we obviously cannot test the differences between mobile and
non-mobile students in statistical terms for Lebanon and the USA/Hawai’i.
The differences clearly become significant when considering the mean scores for different types of
reflexivity as shown in Table 3, where we present both the mean scores for each reflexivity type and the
Soc. Sci. 2018,7, 46 10 of 18
share of students with a score above 40. There is no significant difference between the Slovenian and the
US non-mobile students in terms of communicative reflexivity. In contrast, mobile Slovenian students
are characterised by significantly lower communicative reflexivity and the Lebanese students generally
are characterised by higher levels than the rest. The explanations for both are quite straightforward.
Mobile students may find it more difficult to maintain very strong and close social bonds with other
people and take their opinions and actions into account. On the other hand, such bonds may be more
present in somewhat more traditional societies, like the Lebanese, which encourage communicative
reflexivity. The situation of the Lebanese students included in our survey may be even more complex
than the situation of other Lebanese students. While their society may be characterised by certain
traditional elements usually linked to the pronounced role of religion and religion-/tradition-related
social norms (Inglehart and Welzel 2014), they are studying at an elite and western-style educational
institution. This may lead to interesting contradictions expressed in both high levels of reflexivity, high
scores for meta-reflexivity and extremely high scores for fractured reflexivity—more than twice the
level for the Slovenian and US students.
Table 3.
Mean scores and percentages with scores exceeding 40 (out of 80) for the four reflexivity types.
Communicative Autonomous Meta Fractured
Mean
Score
% with
Score >40
Mean
Score
% with
Score >40
Mean
Score
% with
Score >40
Mean
Score
% with
Score >40
Slovenia not mobile * 31.9 26.2 38.9 45.2 42.1 50.0 25.4 19.1
Mobile ** 25.3 17.3 35.4 37.5 41.4 50.0 22.0 13.5
USA—Hawai’i not mobile * 32.5 20.0 43.0 60.0 42.3 50.0 26.3 20.0
Mobile ** 33.1 30.0 43.4 55.0 52.0 70.0 27.1 20.0
Lebanon not mobile * 41.9 40.0 36.6 30.0 46.1 60.0 53.4 60.0
Mobile ** 56.0 50.0 48.0 50.0 72.0 100.0 40.0 50.0
* Not experiencing mobility related to transnational study for at least one month; ** Experiencing mobility related to
transnational study for at least one month.
While mobility is linked to lower communicative reflexivity, it is not connected to higher
autonomous reflexivity (or is not caused by autonomous reflexivity). In this case, national differences
seem to be more important. The students from Hawai’i stand out in terms of their higher
autonomous reflexivity. These results may be linked to some individualist features of American
culture
(Inglehart and Welzel 2014)
and specifics of the local environment, educational institutions,
and the frequency of interactions with people from quite different cultural backgrounds.
Slovenian mobile students have no higher scores for meta reflexivity than non-mobile ones,
whereas the differences seem to be greater for the Hawai’ian and Lebanese students. However, due to
the small sample sizes, we are unable to draw any firm conclusions on this basis.
Fractured reflexivity, on the other hand, has—with the exception of the Lebanese
students—comparatively the lowest scores. However, if fractured reflexivity is seen as a problem, its scores
may still be seen as too high. Mobility as such does play its part here since it is linked with lower scores for
fractured reflexivity. This calls for further research on both intercultural and institutional differences.
To summarise: in line with our expectations, students’ mobility is linked to lower communicative
and fractured reflexivity. The mobile students seem to have greater control over their lives and depend
less on the opinions and support of others while making their reflexive deliberations. In contrast,
mobility as such neither increases general levels of reflexivity nor autonomous reflexivity. Yet any
comparisons between Slovenian, Hawai’ian, and Lebanese students can only be seen here as tentatively
indicating that similar differences between the more and the less mobile students regarding their
reflexivity levels may appear in quite different cultural and institutional settings. Due to the sampling
limitations mentioned above, we can draw no firm conclusions regarding inter-cultural differences.
Our further analysis is therefore limited to the Slovenian students.
Soc. Sci. 2018,7, 46 11 of 18
7. Towards an Explanatory Model: The Case of Slovenia
Further, we hypothesise that mobility implies higher numbers of transnational alters. This
relationship is presented in Table 4. It is worth noting that the mobile students—regardless of whether
they are only mobile for at least one month or for at least three months—have three times more
transnational alters than their non-mobile counterparts. They contact more than twice as many of their
transnational alters at least monthly than the rest and have more than twice as many transnational
alters in their private spheres. Moreover, the mean number of transnational alters not known prior
to each student’s first (or only) mobility experience indicates that most transnational alters were not
known by our respondents before their period of mobility (1.88 out of 2.52). Yet we cannot determine
whether the new transnational alters not known before the period of mobility have replaced national
alters or transnational ones on the list of the 20 key alters.
The key direction of causality thus cannot be determined in any obvious way: it is very likely
that higher numbers of transnational alters encourage mobility, which then contributes to even higher
numbers of transnational alters. As indicted by a study on Erasmus students, students’ networks
abroad are typically formed before they leave home (Van Mol and Michielsen 2015). Our construction
of possible explanatory models clearly requires testing of which direction of causality provides a
superior goodness of fit.
The data in Table 4also indicate the distinction between mobile and non-mobile students in terms
of transnational alters already arises from at least one month of staying abroad for study purposes:
there is no big difference between mobility periods of at least one month and longer durations. This is
also indicated by the correlations of data on transnational alters and the length of mobility expressed
in the reported number of months: here no correlation is significant at the level of at least 0.10.
Table 4. Statements indicating different reflexivity types.
No. of
Transnational
Alters
No. of Transnational
Alters Contacted at
Least Monthly
No. of
Transnational Alters
in Private Sphere
No. of Transnational
Alters Not Known
before the Mobility
experiencing transnational mobility
for study purposes 3 months 2.56 1.81 1.68 1.97
experiencing transnational mobility
for study purposes 1 month 2.52 1.77 1.64 1.88
others (no transnational study related
mobility for at least 1 month) 0.83 0.86 0.62
t-test: mobile for at least three months
vs. the rest (significance) 4.08 (0.000) ** 2.19 (0.030) * 3.17 (0.002) **
t-test: mobile for at least one month
vs. the rest (significance) 4.70 (0.000) ** 2.30 (0.023) * 3.10 (0.002) **
Correlation with the length (number
of months) of transnational study
related mobility (significance)
0.13 (0.123) 0.06 (0.481) 0.08 (0.317) 0.05 (0.671)
* Equal variances assumed; ** Equal variances not assumed.
Based on the existing theoretical assumptions and what can be inferred from our empirical data
regarding the Slovenian students, we can develop an explanatory model applying path analysis. It is a
version of structural equation modelling that remains on the single level of analysis and includes no
latent variables. Due to the limitations of our sample mentioned above, these models should not be
seen as the final generalisation but more as providing tentative guidance for further research.
Our analysis, with the significant paths presented in Figure 1and Table 5, has two parts. The first
part is based on the hypotheses derived from our first two research questions, namely that: (1) mobility
increases the scores for certain types of reflexivity; and (2) the number of transnational alters leads to a
higher level of reflexivity in general.
Soc. Sci. 2018,7, 46 12 of 18
Soc. Sci. 2018, 7, x FOR PEER REVIEW 12 of 19
(1) mobility increases the scores for certain types of reflexivity; and (2) the number of transnational
alters leads to a higher level of reflexivity in general.
Figure 1. Path analysis explaining the relationships between mobility, inclusion in the transnational
sphere, levels, and types of reflexivity and background variables.
Mobility itself (the mobile variable in our model) is subject to the individual’s position in the
social structure where we can hardly speak about equal opportunities. Father’s level of education
affects the chances of one being mobile: students of parents with some form of tertiary education are
more likely to be mobile than the rest. In line with other studies on youth (Republic of Slovenia,
Ministry of Education and Sports Office for Youth 2011; Bevc and Ogorevc 2013), father’s education
significantly influences different areas of a young person’s life in terms of their future orientation,
active participation, and academic access.
To construct our explanatory model, we operationalised mobility in three different ways: (1) as
a distinction between students mobile for at least one month and the rest; (2) as a distinction between
students mobile for at least three months (i.e., the minimum length of an Erasmus exchange) and the
rest; and (3) as the total number of months of the period of mobility. We note the relationships in the
model remain the same regardless of the mobility indicator.
Table 4. Path analysis: variables, coefficients, and overall model fit.
Variables: Effect
Standardised
Coefficients
Standard
Errors
Significances
Variances
Explained (R2)
Level of reflexivity
(Reflexive)
0.269
0.130
0.038
0.07
0.201
0.083
0.015
0.278
0.130
0.032
4.487
0.359
0.000
Communicative
reflexivity score
(Communicative)
0.572
0.059
0.000
0.35
0.153
0.071
0.031
0.772
0.348
0.027
Figure 1.
Path analysis explaining the relationships between mobility, inclusion in the transnational
sphere, levels, and types of reflexivity and background variables.
Table 5. Path analysis: variables, coefficients, and overall model fit.
Variables: Effect Variables: Causal Standardised
Coefficients
Standard
Errors Significances Variances
Explained (R2)
Level of reflexivity
(Reflexive)
No. of transnational alters 0.269 0.130 0.038
0.07
Female 0.201 0.083 0.015
Number of transnational private alters 0.278 0.130 0.032
Constant 4.487 0.359 0.000
Communicative
reflexivity score
(Communicative)
Level of reflexivity (Reflexive) 0.572 0.059 0.000
0.35
Mobile 1 month 0.153 0.071 0.031
Constant 0.772 0.348 0.027
Autonomous
reflexivity score
(Autonomous)
Level of reflexivity (Reflexive) 0.632 0.052 0.000
0.42
Number of transnational alters 0.0980 0.067 0.142
Constant 0.571 0.308 0.064
Meta reflexivity
score (Meta)
Level of reflexivity (Reflexive) 0.762 0.036 0.000
0.59
Mobile 1 month 0.099 0.056 0.075
Constant 1.088 0.253 0.000
Fractured
reflexivity score
(Fractured)
Level of reflexivity (Reflexive) 0.493 0.064 0.000
0.30
Mobile 1 month 0.117 0.074 0.116
Age 0.221 0.072 0.002
Constant 0.200 0.486 0.680
Mobile 1 month
Number of transnational alters 0.268 0.079 0.001
0.11
Father’s tertiary education 0.162 0.082 0.047
Constant 1.209 0.156 0.000
Model’s overall
goodness of fit
CFI = 0.998
0.24
TLI = 0.997
RMSEA = 0.012
Mobility itself (the mobile variable in our model) is subject to the individual’s position in the
social structure where we can hardly speak about equal opportunities. Father ’s level of education
affects the chances of one being mobile: students of parents with some form of tertiary education
are more likely to be mobile than the rest. In line with other studies on youth (Republic of Slovenia,
Soc. Sci. 2018,7, 46 13 of 18
Ministry of Education and Sports Office for Youth 2011;Bevc and Ogorevc 2013), father’s education
significantly influences different areas of a young person’s life in terms of their future orientation,
active participation, and academic access.
To construct our explanatory model, we operationalised mobility in three different ways: (1) as a
distinction between students mobile for at least one month and the rest; (2) as a distinction between
students mobile for at least three months (i.e., the minimum length of an Erasmus exchange) and the
rest; and (3) as the total number of months of the period of mobility. We note the relationships in the
model remain the same regardless of the mobility indicator.
However, while considering the minor differences in the coefficients, their significances and the
entire model’s explanatory power, the distinction between students who were mobile for at least one
month and the rest provides the greatest explanatory power.1
Yet, this does not mean that the significance of short-term student mobility (i.e., even for just
one month) implies that transnational personal ties are irrelevant. Our path analysis confirms mobile
students have a bigger number of transnational alters. The standardised coefficient between the
number of transnational alters and mobility is 0.268. While mobility does not affect the general level
of reflexivity as such, the latter is positively affected by the numbers of transnational alters (0.269),
while negatively affected by the number of transnational private alters (
0.278) and by being a male
(i.e., female students are more likely to indicate higher levels of reflexivity).
The model’s overall explanatory power and its goodness of fit prove to be far better when the
number of transnational alters is seen as a cause for mobility and not vice versa, which is consistent with
previous research (Van Mol and Michielsen 2015). With the number of transnational alters as an
independent variable affecting mobility, the overall model explains 24% of variance (compared to only
19% with reverse causality) and the root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA) fit statistic is
0.012, i.e., clearly within the acceptable threshold of 0.05. On the other hand, the hypothesised reversed
causality of mobility affecting the number of transnational alters would raise the RMSEA value to
0.157, higher than the threshold usually considered acceptable for path analysis models.
Further, we attempt to identify the relationship between levels of reflexivity and scores for
different reflexivity types, while controlling for the background variables provided within our sample.
The relationship between reflexivity levels and reflexivity types is obvious since the scores for the
reflexivity types were constructed by taking the reflexivity levels into account. A more interesting
part of our model is the impact of mobility, participation in the transnational sphere (in terms of the
number of transnational alters) and the control variables, defining our respondents’ backgrounds,
on the scores for different reflexivity types.
Our path analysis confirms the negative relationship between mobility and communicative
reflexivity as already noted and explained above. Being mobile implies that students’ reflexive
deliberations depend less on receiving other people’s confirmations.
Further, mobile students seem more likely to be able to take control over their situations and social
contexts, to make decisions and perform actions based on their reflexive deliberations. Consequently,
they are less likely to experience fractured reflexivity—as demonstrated by our path analysis model.
Mobility also implies higher scores for the meta reflexivity type. Mobile students are more
likely to participate in heterogeneous socio-cultural contexts and enter social environments that differ
significantly from their own. They are more likely to reject simplifications, stereotyping and to instead
1
Mobility for at least three months can be explained in a similar way as the at least one-month mobility by father
'
s education
(coefficient equals 0.170) and the number of transnational alters (0.255). It is also linked to communicative reflexivity
in a similar way (
0.182). However, it is less persuasive in statistical terms when linked to meta (0.087) and fractured
(
0.097) reflexivity. Taking the total number of months spent abroad due to study reasons as the mobility indicator, on the
other hand, produces statistically significant—but weaker—links with the number of transnational alters (0.137) and meta
reflexivity (0.128), while the links with father’s education, communicative, and fractured reflexivity are clearly insignificant
in statistical terms.
Soc. Sci. 2018,7, 46 14 of 18
critically reflect on their social contexts and even their own reflections. These patterns of thinking and
behaviour clearly make them more meta reflexive.
Yet we cannot confirm a direct effect of the students’ mobility as such on their autonomous
reflexivity. This may be explained by noting that autonomous reflexivity is typically linked to
the western type of modern society characterised by high levels of individualisation (Beck 1992;
Inglehart and Welzel 2014
), not to mobility as such. However, autonomous reflexivity might be slightly
affected by the number of transnational alters, although one can draw no firm conclusions here due to
the lack of any clear statistical significance of the coefficient (p= 0.142).
Finally, fractured reflexivity decreases with age. With higher age, students seem more likely to be
able to organise and arrange their lives in such a way they do not feel lost and/or completely unable
to control the things happening around them.
8. Interpretation and Concluding Thoughts
Reflexive deliberations and aspirations have come to be seen as an imperative of late modernity
(Archer 2012) and as a means for successfully adapting to the rapid changes. The article addressed
students who are generally expected to be more disconnected from their initial social context than
older generations that are comparatively more embedded in their routines, expectations, customs,
and beliefs. Young people represent a special social group as their attitudes and behaviour reflect the
fast pace of social transformations and herald future social conditions (Ule 2008). They are a social
category substantially affected by individualisation, technological development, and communication,
considerably subjected to social risks and uncertainties (Threadgold and Nilan 2009). They are expected
to be responsible for their actions in an unstable and unpredictable environment and to construct
a sense of individual identity in relation to fluid social settings and undermined traditional social
semantic anchors. In a world of lost ontological security (Giddens 1984), the construction of identity,
building one’s position in society, and aspiring for the future are all demanding tasks.
The increasing complexity of social structural and semiotic influences has distanced individuals
from traditional structural constraints, but also created new uncertainties and risks (Beck 1992) that
enable—but also demand that—individuals deliberate on their decisions and orient their actions
relative to different social and cultural contexts. Reflexivity as an integral part of our consciousness
is not new, but today’s transformed social context induces different modes of such mental activity
(Archer 2003) and emphasises its role in mediating individual agency and social forces.
Youth from different parts of the globe are experiencing certain shared challenges that reflect
their accelerated risk circumstances and individualisation processes. Since the economic crisis
in 2008, young peoples’ demanding transitions from education to work, becoming financially
independent, and acquiring personal autonomy have occurred in even more fluctuating economic,
social, and personal conditions. However, despite some trends of concern, one can identify two factors
substantially contributing to better living conditions (European Union 2014). One is education, as the
unemployment rate is much lower for young graduates from tertiary education than those with the
lowest education levels. Graduates are also more active in political and social spheres. Another is
mobility, which may be seen as even more important than education as such.
Our study shows that transnational mobility does affect reflexivity but the relationship between them
is not straightforward. It directly affects three reflexivity types, being positively linked to meta reflexivity,
and negatively to communicative and fractured reflexivity. Its effects on the levels of reflexivity generally
and autonomous reflexivity specifically, on the other hand, are more indirect—through participation in
the transnational sphere.
We noted that students’ transnational mobility is most clearly linked to a drop in the communicative
type of reflexivity. We are aware that students’ family members can play an important role in someone’s
decision on student mobility as parents can actively support the decision (Waters and Brooks 2011) or
influence it through the so-called family habitus (Cairns 2014). However, a typical mobility engagement
for study purposes is not a collective but an individual endeavour because students generally migrate for
Soc. Sci. 2018,7, 46 15 of 18
study purposes as individuals—without their families and close friends. Therefore, it is not surprising
that students’ mobility implies certain levels of detachment from other people’s opinions when
planning one’s actions. These processes are reflected in a decline in communicative reflexivity.
Regarding communicative reflexivity, we may draw some tentative thoughts regarding
inter-cultural differences. Besides the contrast between mobile and non-mobile Slovenian students, we
may also underline the difference between Slovenian and American non-mobile students on one side
and the Lebanese students on the other. The latter reveal significantly higher levels of communicative
reflexivity, which is in line with both Archer (2007) understanding of communicative reflexivity,
linking it more to traditional societies, and Lebanon’s positioning on the Inglehart-Welzel cultural
map (i.e., with stronger survival values than American and stronger traditional values than Slovenian
society) (Inglehart and Welzel 2014).
The variety of contested cultural information increases and triggers students’ internal
conversations to become more reflexive. They are thus encouraged to deliberately consider their
personal concerns, future actions, and personal identity (Archer 2003). Students with higher numbers
of transnational alters in their network, regardless of how frequently they actually contact them, have
accordingly turned out to be more reflexive in terms of reflexivity levels than the remaining students.
This level of reflexivity in general is the basis for the different types of reflexivity.
Yet, the impact of transnational alters in the network is reversed somewhat when we consider the
private transnational alters, whose presence in fact lowers the level of reflexivity. This may be explained
by viewing transnational social networks as constitutive elements of social fields (
Beckert 2010
),
which can be seen as local orders in which “actors gather and frame their actions vis-à-vis one
another” (Fligstein 2001, p. 108). Interactions and intersubjective meaning among individuals are
localised within nodes of particular social networks that enable certain social fields to exist, including
transnational ones. When those interactions occur among private alters, namely one’s family and
closest friends, they do not trigger our personal emergent properties in the same way as those from the
business, study, or professional environment. The cultural and social meanings do not induce clashes
and discomfort in our perception of everyday reality and thus do not trigger our inner dialogue to
adapt to new circumstances in the social environment.
While observing the effects on the levels of reflexivity in general, we should also consider the
significance of gender. Female students are more reflexive in terms of reflexivity levels, which is in
line with the findings of Porpora and Shumar, who do not distinguish between reflexivity levels and
reflexivity types (or ‘styles’ as they call them), but still find women to be more likely to be characterised
by communicative and meta reflexivity (Porpora and Shumar 2010). The higher levels of reflexivity
among the female students indicated by our data should be seen in today’s context, characterised by
individualised social reality. On one hand, the importance of the traditional and fixed social role has
faded away, bringing a remarkable influence on women’s positions in society. Being more empowered,
they can pursue similar social goals as men do, they can reach similar social positions and be successful
in politics, business, sport, etc., areas traditionally reserved for men. However, those possibilities must
be combined with family and household obligations, which remain primarily in women’s hands. As it
is very hard to combine a successful career and family life, higher levels of reflexivity are required,
referring to constant deliberation about which scenario to choose for one’s future life strategies. It can
be explained as a need caused by contradictory expectations in individualised late modern society
where, on one hand, women are supposed to compete for all social positions, just like men but, on the
other, they remain unable to escape from certain traditional gender-based limitations and expectations.
When women are unable to resolve these issues, fractured reflexivity may also become more likely.
Autonomous reflexivity seems to be more related to cultural differences and participation in the
transnational sphere than to mobility as such. Although the mobility of the Slovenian students suggests
lower communicative reflexivity, it is linked to any increase in autonomous reflexivity. On the other
hand, the most obvious difference can be seen between the American and Lebanese students—stressing
Soc. Sci. 2018,7, 46 16 of 18
the contrast between a strongly individualised and a still quite collectivistic society, which is line with
previous research on inter-cultural differences (Inglehart and Welzel 2014).
Finally, meta-reflexivity might be related to individuals confronted with contradictions that
individuals need to resolve while entering different socio-cultural contexts facilitated by their mobility
(Kleindeinst 2017;Valentinˇciˇc 2016). As mentioned, such contradictions might be entailed in not so much
the mostly intra-European mobility of the Slovenian students but more by the greater inter-cultural
contradictions students from Lebanon or from Hawai’i experience (
Kovaˇciˇc and Rek 2016
). While
fractured reflexivity may be linked to unsuccessful coping with such contradictions, meta reflexivity
could be a more positive outcome. Yet, this does not mean they are mutually exclusive since the same
individual may successfully resolve a certain contradiction through his/her internal dialogue and
subsequent actions, but fail to resolve another.
Author Contributions:
The research design and key ideas were developed with the equal contributions by both
authors. Tea Golob played a major part in providing the theoretical framework. Matej Makarovic played a major part
in providing the statistical analyses. The interpretation of the results was shared equally between both authors.
Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflicts of interests.
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(CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
... In order to operationalize the concept of personal reflexivity, we applied a reflexivity measurement tool (RMT) intended to provide an approximate assessment of one's reflexivity in terms of quantitative scores for different reflexivity modes. The tool's validity and reliability have been tested through our previous qualitative and quantitative research [67,68] and, later on, it was also applied in research with a national representative sample [22,42]. ...
... The first quantitative measurement instrument to measure reflexivity was the internal conversation indicator (ICONI), developed earlier by Archer [7], based directly on her theory and previous qualitative research. The RMT (presented in more detail in [42,68]) applied in this research is a further adaptation of Archer's indicator, after taking into account the critical responses to the original ICONI [69,70] and the work by Porpora and Shumar [71]. Drawing from ICONI and based on the contribution by Porpora and Shumar [71], the reflexivity level is measured through the responses to questions asking, "During the last year, how often did you . . . ...
... Obviously, nobody can be highly meta-reflexive without being highly reflexive: the more people are reflexive, the more intensive their meta-reflexivity can be. This should be seen as a multiplier effect, combining the intensity of internal dialog based on the 5 statements listed above (or the reflexivity level R) and the meta-reflexive way of thinking [22,42,68]. Using the RMT, we thus multiply each person's reflexivity level (R) with her/his Likert scale responses to the item also included in our survey questionnaire: "During the last year, how often did you carefully consider the key priorities of your life and why you are doing what you are doing?" ...
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In line with the social morphogenetic approach, this article explores the role of meta-reflexivity in responsible concerns and actions oriented toward achieving a sustainable society. Based on the case study of Slovenia, this article addresses individuals’ social and environmental responsibility by considering the relationships between their attitudes, intentions and behavior. It draws on a survey questionnaire that includes the reflexivity measurement tool. The path-analysis is applied to consider the aspects of responsibility as endogenous variables, while the social/cultural conditions (age, gender, educational level, income and the survey wave) and meta-reflexivity as a specific mode of inner dialog are included as exogenous variables. A coherent index of socially and environmentally responsible behavior can be constructed and explained by social/cultural conditions and meta-reflexivity. The COVID-19 pandemic indicates negative effects on responsibility, mostly due to a decline in meta-reflexivity. The study reveals two different—although not mutually exclusive—paths towards socially and environmentally responsible behavior. The first one is based on a combination of well-established values, habits and inertia. This behavior is more typical for older generations, as indicated by the impact of age. The second one is mostly based on critical, meta-reflexive thinking and it is more typical for younger, more educated and more affluent people.
... Nuestra investigación aplica la Herramienta de Medición de la Reflexividad (HMR), para proporcionar una evaluación aproximada de la propia reflexividad, en términos de puntuaciones cuantitativas para los diferentes modos de reflexividad. La validez y la fiabilidad de la herramienta han sido probadas en un estudio cualitativo y cuantitativo previo (Golob & Makarovič, 2018) y, posteriormente, también se han aplicado en un estudio de investigación de muestra representativa a nivel nacional (Golob & Makarovič, 2019). El primer instrumento cuantitativo para medir la reflexividad fue el Indicador de Conversación Interna (ICONI), desarrollado por Archer (2007), basado directamente en su teoría y en investigaciones cualitativas previas. ...
... El primer instrumento cuantitativo para medir la reflexividad fue el Indicador de Conversación Interna (ICONI), desarrollado por Archer (2007), basado directamente en su teoría y en investigaciones cualitativas previas. El HMR (Golob & Makarovič, 2018; 2019) aplicado en esta investigación es la adaptación posterior del indicador de Archer, después de tener en cuenta las respuestas críticas al ICONI original (Meriton, 2016;Dyke et al., 2012) y el trabajo de Porpora y Shumar (2010). Basándose en el ICONI y en la contribución de Porpora y Shumar (2010), el nivel de reflexividad se mide a través de las respuestas a las preguntas formuladas: «Durante el último año, con qué frecuencia» sobre los siguientes puntos que indican la intensidad de la conversación interna: planificaste tu futuro; ensayaste lo que dirías en una conversación importante; imaginaste las mejores y peores consecuencias de una decisión importante; revisaste una conversación que terminó mal; aclaraste los pensamientos sobre algún tema, persona o problema (Porpora & Shumar, 2010). ...
... Obviamente, nadie puede ser altamente meta-reflexivo sin ser altamente reflexivo: cuanto más reflexivas sean las personas, más intensa puede ser su meta-reflexividad. Esto debería considerarse un efecto multiplicador: combinar la intensidad del diálogo interno (o el nivel de reflexividad R) y una forma de pensar meta-reflexiva (Golob & Makarovič, 2018;2019). Utilizando la HMR, multiplicamos el nivel de reflexividad (R) de cada persona con sus respuestas en la escala de Likert a la pregunta: «Durante el último año, ¿con qué frecuencia consideraste cuidadosamente las prioridades clave de tu vida y por qué estás haciendo lo que estás haciendo?» ...
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El avance digital contribuye a que las noticias falsas y la desinformación aumenten en número y ritmo. El objetivo central de este trabajo es considerar el poder de las personas para responder activamente a la desinformación y noticias falsas. Para ello, los autores se basan en Archer, específicamente su propuesta teórica relacionada con la reflexividad y sus modos. Argumentamos que un modo específico de reflexividad, la meta-reflexividad, permite distanciarse críticamente de los mensajes de los medios de comunicación. El método consiste en el uso de la Herramienta de Medición de la Reflexividad (HMR) para proporcionar una evaluación aproximada de la propia reflexividad en términos de puntuaciones cuantitativas. La encuesta se ha realizado en Eslovenia sobre una muestra nacional representativa y se ha aplicado un análisis de la trayectoria para determinar la relación entre las características demográficas, la exposición a los medios de comunicación, la reflexividad y la verificación de los hechos. Los resultados muestran que la edad y la educación afectan las preferencias relacionadas con los medios, medidos en base a la frecuencia de exposición a un tipo particular de medio. Los jóvenes, las mujeres y las personas con educación terciaria son más meta-reflexivos, lo cual contribuye a que tengan una respuesta activa a la desinformación. Se concluye que la meta-reflexividad es necesaria pero no suficiente para producir una respuesta activa de los sujetos a los mensajes de los medios de comunicación. Finalmente se menciona la necesidad de tener servicios profesionales de verificación, además de programas de educación mediática.
... Our research applies the Reflexivity Measurement Tool (RMT) intended to provide an approximate assessment of one's reflexivity in terms of quantitative scores for different reflexivity modes. The tool's validity and reliability have been tested in our previous qualitative and quantitative research (Golob & Makarovič, 2018) and later also applied in a national representative sample research study (Golob & Makarovič, 2019). The first quantitative instrument to measure reflexivity was the Internal Conversation Indicator (ICONI), developed by Archer (2007) based directly on her theory and previous qualitative research. ...
... The first quantitative instrument to measure reflexivity was the Internal Conversation Indicator (ICONI), developed by Archer (2007) based directly on her theory and previous qualitative research. The RMT (Golob & Makarovič, 2018;2019) applied in this research is the further adaptation of Archer's indicator, after taking into account the critical responses to the original ICONI (Meriton, 2016;Dyke et al., 2012) and the work by Porpora and Shumar (2010). Drawing from ICONI and based on the contribution by Porpora and Shumar (2010), the reflexivity level is measured through the responses to the questions asking: «During the last year, how often did you» about the following items indicating the intensity of internal conversation: plan your future; rehearse what you would say in an important conversation; imagine the best and worst consequences of a major decision; review a conversation that ended badly; clarify thoughts about some issue, person or problem (Porpora & Shumar, 2010). ...
... Obviously, nobody can be highly meta-reflexive without being highly reflexive: the more reflexive people are, the more intensive their meta-reflexivity can be. This should be seen as a multiplier effect: combining the intensity of internal dialogue (or the reflexivity level R) and the meta-reflexive way of thinking (Golob & Makarovič 2018;2019). Using the RMT, we thus multiply each person's reflexivity level (R) with her/his Likert scale responses to the question: «During the last year, how often did you carefully consider the key priorities of your life and why you are doing what you are doing? ...
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The rise of digital media contributes to fake news and disinformation being circulated on a larger scale and pace. The central aim of the work is to consider the potentials of individuals to actively respond to disinformation and fake news. In that regard, the authors rely on Archer’s theoretical framework of reflexivity and its modes. It is argued that a specific mode of reflexivity, namely meta-reflexivity, can enable people to take a critical distance towards media messaging. The method involves the Reflexivity Measurement Tool (RMT) to provide an approximate assessment of one’s reflexivity in terms of quantitative scores. The survey has been conducted in Slovenia on a representative national sample and path analysis is applied to identify the relationship between demographic features, media exposure, reflexivity and fact-checking. The results show how age and education affect media preferences, in terms of how frequently an individual is exposed to a particular type of media. Younger people, women and persons with tertiary education are more meta-reflexive, which contributes to their active response to disinformation. It is concluded that meta-reflexivity is essential but not sufficient to produce an active response of individuals to disinformation. Need for professional fact-checking-services and media education is discussed.
... However, despite these theoretical and methodological orientations, we can notice a significant gap in the empirical research on reflexivity, which may also affect the theoretical conclusions. A clear limitation of the research adapting Archer' work is that it has been typically based on the studies of specific populations, for example observing particular groups of students (Porpora and Shumar 2010;Archer 2012;Mills 2016;Kahn et al. 2017;Golob 2017;Golob and Makarovič 2018), or local authorities in particular regions (Sackmann et al. 2015). Archer's theory of reflexivity clearly entails the possibility of identifying and explaining the divergence of life journeys of individuals with similar social circumstances. ...
... The reflexivity measurement tool that we are applying has already been carefully developed and tested in terms of validity and reliability through our previous qualitative (Golob) and quantitative (Golob and Makarovič 2018) research. For the purposes of this paper we will only summarise it briefly in this section. ...
... • an application of the tool on the students from Slovenia (administered on-line on a representative sample of the Slovenian students engaged in the Erasmus students' mobility and convenience samples of other students from Slovenia, Lebanon, and the USA) (presented in Golob and Makarovič 2018). ...
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This article examines how reflexivity, as understood by Margaret Archer, is affected by the structural settings in the context of morphogenetic social and cultural transformations. It draws on the Slovenian national case as an example of swift structural and cultural shifts towards late modernity. For that purpose, we apply a new measurement tool developed through our previous research, which upgrades Archer’s existing ICONI model by distinguishing between the intensity and the concurrent practicing of the reflexivity modes within the inner dialogue. Based on a general national sample, we confirm not only the reflexivity changes from the older to the younger generations but also the role of education and gender in reflexivity levels and modes. We refer to the problem of deprivation and the importance of linking fractured reflexivity to the challenges, women are facing nowadays. Thus, the article confirms some of the critics of Archer’s work, demonstrating—despite significant individual differences—the clear impact of the individual’s background and her/his position in the social structure.
... Anketni del raziskave smo izvedli med oktobrom 2018 in aprilom 2019 s spletno anketo, uporabili smo portal 1ka (2017). Anketa je zajela 650 mladih v starosti od 19 do 29 let. 1 V anketi smo z baterijo vprašanj okvirno kvantitativno izmerili stopnje refleksivnosti in njene modalitete po že oblikovani ter preizkušeni metodi (Golob in Makarovič 2018;. ...
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A View on the Covid-19 Epidemic from the Perspective of Intersectoral Differences in Destandardisation and Employment Instability in Slovenia. In this paper, we analyse the effects of the first wave of the COVID-19 epidemic on employment in Slovenia in the light of some theories on the destandardisation and segmentation of employment. We consider statistical databases, state measures and policies, along with union strategies before and during the epidemic. The epidemic has caused a sharp decline in employment and hit hardest those workers holding non-standard forms of employment (especially students and temporary workers). Given the decline in service turnover/production volume, particular service industries (e.g. retail, exports) have been more affected by export-oriented manufacturing that has invested less in employee skills and shifted the effects of the shock to labour and the state. We also note the trade unions have not deepened the splits in labour market divisions, while segmentation has been strengthened by both pre- and post-epidemic state policies. KEY WORDS: destandardisation, segmentation, employment instability, Covid-19 epidemic, Slovenia. SLO: V prispevku analizirava učinke prvega vala epidemije covida-19 na zaposlovanje v Sloveniji v luči nekaterih teorij destandardizacije in segmentacije zaposlovanja. Analizirala sva statistične podatke, ukrepe in politike države ter strategije sindikatov pred in med epidemijo. Epidemija je povzročila močan upad zaposlitev in najbolj prizadela delavce v nestandardnih oblikah (še zlasti študente in zaposlene za določen čas). Glede na padec prometa oz. obsega proizvodnje je bolj kot izvozno usmerjeno predelovalno industrijo prizadela nekatere storitvene panoge (npr. maloprodaja, izvoz), kjer manj vlagajo v veščine zaposlenih; te so namreč v večji meri učinke šoka prevalile na delavstvo in državo. Ugotavljava tudi, da sindikati razcepov na trgu delovne sile niso poglabljali, medtem ko so segmentacijo krepile državne politike pred epidemijo in ukrepi med njo. KLJUČNE BESEDE: destandardizacija, segmentacija, nestabilnost zaposlovanja, covid-19, epidemija, Slovenija
... A study focusing on understanding the relationship between mobility and students' social ties has shown that students' mobility allows them to participate more actively in heterogeneous socio-cultural environments significantly different from their campus living environments [65]. Those environmental activities make them more likely to reject stereotyping and reflect critically on their social contexts. ...
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Accessibility and economic sustainability of public bus services (PBS) have been in a continuous decline in Japan’s countryside. Rural cities also suffer from population transformation toward industrial centers experiencing rapid economic growth. In the present study, we reviewed the current demand status of PBS in Kitami, a rural city in Japan that hosts a national university. The investigation was performed by examining students’ daily lives using a survey to collect data representing a portion of the population. The objective was to predict the change in demand rate for PBS concerning the necessities of everyday life from the perspective of university students as potential users of PBS. Intuitively, decision-makers at every level display a distinct prejudice toward alternatives that intend to change the long-lasting status quo, hence in the question sequence, a two-step verification probe was used to reveal a person’s actual perceived opinion. Accordingly, the respondents’ initial demand rate for PBS was around 60%; however, this score increased to 71% in the secondary confirmation. Afterward, using machine learning-based prediction methods, we could predict this demand at over 90% of F-measure, with the most reliable and stable prediction method reaching 80% by other daily life indicators’ weight. Finally, we supplied thorough evidence for our approach’s usability by collecting and processing the data’s right set regarding this study’s objective. This method’s highlighted outcomes would help to reduce the local governments’ and relevant initiatives’ adaptability time to demands and improve decision-making flexibility.
... Whether young individuals will orient themselves well in these situations depends on several different factors like their personal characteristics, family conditions, etc. In times of educational inflation, informal education, networking and especially international mobility play a big role in an individual's success in the labor market (see Golob and Makarovič 2018). Younger generations have been growing up in the belief that higher education is the key to a better life and higher social status. ...
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This paper's main aim is to observe and confirm youth unemployment as a structural phenomenon in certain EU countries, including Slovenia. An innovative contribution is that it complements the prevailing economistic discourse with a sociological one. In the introduction, a brief history and overview of youth unemployment is presented. Slovenia is only briefly mentioned as having one of the relatively longest-lasting youth unemployment rates in the EU. In sections 2 and 3, approaches from economics and sociology are relied on while discussing three 'types' of EU countries with regard to different structural unemployment rates. From a sociological view, the long-term nature of youth unemployment is described, together with its impact on the social structure and (possible) socially destructive and economically destabilizing consequences. In section 4, analysis of "every-day life" indicators, namely, young people's perceptions of work and life, reveals some surprising facts that depart from previous findings. In short: young people are more satisfied with their work and lives than older generations.
... Porpora and Shumar see Archer's empirical work on reflexivity (e.g., 2003: 152-361) as an attempt to explain "an aspect of intergenerational class mobility. Individuals who, for whatever reason, gain the skills to engage in a more internalized style of self-reflection [e.g., meta-reflexivity or autonomous reflexivity] may be in a better place to do well in the educational system and become upwardly mobile" (Porpora and Shumar 2010: 209-10; see also Golob and Makarovič 2018). ...
Thesis
While a wide body of literature has emerged on Tottenham’s youths since the England riots of 2011, the perceptions of the young people themselves have not been subjected to the same level of attention and scrutiny. My thesis intends to fill this gap by looking at the subjective experiences of youths in the north London constituency of Tottenham (the area where a peaceful demonstration escalated into the England riots). In particular, it investigates young people’s reflexive attitudes towards their identities and how they deal with stereotypical and homogeneous youth representations. By putting forward an alternative conceptualisation of reflexivity that spells out how reflexive orientations relate to lived experiences and past engagement in the social world, my study aims to open up novel pathways for understanding youth-identity formation and stereotyping processes. The study applies qualitative methods, including a version of interpretative phenomenological analysis, to analyse identity-forming processes and how young people reflexively deal with the harmful consequences of stigmatised identities. Research participants (N = 16; 16–25 years of age) are drawn from various youth organisations operating in the Tottenham wards. In shedding light on the discrepancy between how young people see themselves and how others—e.g., the media and politicians—view them, the study repudiates the common misconception that Tottenham’s youths are a homogeneous entity; rather, it concludes that these young people embody a complex ensemble of heterogeneous identities, outlooks and reflexive capacities. https://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/9665/
... Realizirano dostojanstvo je tisto, ki ga ljudje lahko zaznajo in občutijo v stiku s samim seboj in soljudmi. Tesno je povezano tudi s spiritualnim kapitalom (Golob, Kristovič, Makarovič, 2014) ter socialno-kulturnim in političnim kontekstom, v katerem posameznik živi (Golob, Makarovič, 2018;Raspor, Divjak, 2017;Rončević, Makarovič, 2010;Adam, Makarovič, Rončević, Tomšič, 2005;Tomšič, 2017). ...
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Chapter
We live in times of constant adaptation to changes. Business sectors and research sectors are characterised by constant processes of innovation. Innovation per se brings changes to both knowledge databases and to organisations. The latter need to properly manage the upcoming change arising from innovation. In the paradigm of Open Innovation, the management of change in companies is crucial to maintain the network of actors and properly manage the day- to- day business and respond to market demands. How should firms behave in such a position of constant flux to assure sustainable growth in regional context? We attempt to establish a model based on SOFIA illuminating the interplay of social forces that contribute to the stable progress and functional operation and successful implementation of developed innovation. Keywords: Open innovation, sustainable growth, regional development, changes, change management, social fields, social theory, SOFIA
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In 2011, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Slovenia made a historical decision on the ‘Tito street’ case, thereby placing human dignity at the centre of the constitutional order. A few years later, some related doubts not resolved by the Constitutional Court remain. For instance, the Court argues that an exhaustive a priori definition of human dignity is impossible since the notion depends on the development of its historical and ethical substance over time. The question thus arises of why legislation states that human dignity is universal even though it can be perceived as being a product of time and place. In this paper, we strive to answer this question by arguing that human dignity has two dimensions, initial dignity and realised dignity, and interpret the Court’s decision from a new angle. Thereby, the aim of this paper is to build a conceptual framework of human dignity and discuss it from a fresh perspective as well as to prove its applicability by presenting Slovenian constitutional case law. The paper offers significant insights into the discussion and may therefore help to improve future interpretations of human dignity in the field of constitutional case law.
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The aim of this research was to explore media exposure of preschool children (1 - 6 years old) and outline demographic factors affecting it. The data show that media exposure of children in kindergartens is low. Parents, however, report much more diverse media habits of their preschoolers in their home environments. Even though the daily average media exposure of preschoolers in Slovenia does not deviate much from the recommended one, a group of children called large media users is identified. Understanding specific features of large media users can inform the development of early childhood educational programs and projects intended to raise awareness and educate parents and children about media, which are currently still a rarity in Central and Eastern Europe.
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This introductory article de nes the concept of transnationalism, provides a typology of this heterogeneous set of activities, and reviews some of the pitfalls in establishing and validating the topic as a novel research eld. A set of guidelines to orient research in this eld is presented and justi ed. Instances of immigrant political and economic transnationalism have existe d in the past. We review some of the most prominent examples, but point to the distinct features that make the contemporary emergence of these activities across multiple national borders worthy of attention. The contents of this Special Issue and their bearing on the present understanding of this phenomenon and its practical implications are summarized .
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Avtor v članku preučuje pojav posameznikov slovenskih korenin iz ZDA in Kanade, ki so stik z etnično identiteto in s slovensko skupnostjo izgubili že zelo zgodaj oz. jim predniki slovenske identitete sploh niso predali, a so jo pozneje (ponovno) odkrili. Življenjske zgodbe posameznikov postavlja v kontekst globalnega trenda individualizacije, ki ga aplicira na omenjene mikro primere. Zanima ga, kaj jih je privedlo do iskanja korenin, kaj jim te pomenijo in kako se renesansa etnične identitete odraža v njihovih življenjih.
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How useful is the distinction between cosmopolitans and locals in understanding the place of mobility and travel within contemporary youth transition? In this article we draw on a qualitative longitudinal study of young people in the UK, suggesting that localities have their own particular economy of mobility, operating at levels of the material, cultural and fantasy. In different localities young people are tied to the immediacy of physical and social space to differing degrees, and factors such as ethnicity, gender, sexuality and social class are significant in this. We illustrate and explore these themes through two longitudinal case histories in order to see how resources and agency are animated in practice. We conclude by arguing against the use of fixed typologies, suggesting that young people are torn between competing forces in relation to notions of home, tradition and fixedness on one hand and of mobility, escape and transformation on the other. The ways in which these tensions are negotiated at the biographical level are firmly embedded in gendered projects of self, through which young people work towards the kinds of men and women that they will be, drawing on family, community and cultural resources in the process
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How do we reflect upon ourselves and our concerns in relation to society, and vice versa? Human reflexivity works through ‘internal conversations’ using language, but also emotions, sensations and images. Most people acknowledge this ‘inner-dialogue’ and can report upon it. However, little research has been conducted on ‘internal conversations’ and how they mediate between our ultimate concerns and the social contexts we confront. Margaret Archer argues that reflexivity is progressively replacing routine action in late modernity, shaping how ordinary people make their way through the world. Using interviewees' life and work histories, she shows how ‘internal conversations’ guide the occupations people seek, keep or quit; their stances towards structural constraints and enablements; and their resulting patterns of social mobility. © Margaret S. Archer 2007 and Cambridge University Press, 2010.