What we are attempting to accomplish is to marry our concerns to a way of life that allows their realization, a way of life about which we can be wholehearted, investing ourselves in it with each personifying its requirements in our and unique manner. Hence we gain and maintain some governance over our own lives. This is a supremely reflexive tasks, entailing ‘strong evaluation’ of our social context in the light of our concerns and adjusting these concerns in the light of our circumstances.
Whilst everyone has to do this for themselves reflexively through their internal conversations, that does not imply that subjects have to do it alone. To engage in inner dialogue is to activate our personal powers but that does not make any of us individualistic monads. We all receive and use external information, we all engage in external as well as internal conversation and, above all, being human refers to a quintessentially relational being. Our human relations and the relationality between them form part of both our internal and our external conversations.
The Reflexive Imperative, Pg 15. Margaret S. Archer.
Although reflexivity is a capacity of individuals, its exercise is not explicable in reductively individualistic terms. Not least of all because the process of coming to a modus vivendi, shaping a life within which the things that matters to us can cohere together in a satisfying and sustainable way, involves articulation. To understand what matters to us, what projects we can pursue to actualise these concerns and how to make a life for ourselves which incorporates them, we must elaborate a sense of who we are. Without others who are similarly occupied, attempting to articulate their personal identities and shape a life congruent with them, how could we do this? The relational dimension to human being doesn’t define our existence but it is both the spur to and the necessary condition for this struggle for self-definition. The meaningfulness of interiority is the flipside to our sociality.