The concept of ‘reflexivity’ has become increasingly significant in social work literature in relation to social work education, theory and practice. However, our reading of the literature indicates that there is a lack of clarity about the concept in terms of who is being exhorted to be ‘reflexive’, when and how. This article addresses these questions through a critical review of social work literature since the 1990s that discusses the concept of ‘reflexivity’. Given that many authors seem to use the concepts of ‘reflexivity’ and ‘(critical) reflection’ interchangeably, we also apply this analysis to ‘reflection’ and ‘critical reflection’. This article raises important questions about how the concepts of ‘reflexivity’, ‘critical reflection’ and ‘reflectivity’ are defined and the different consequences such definitions might have for social work education, theory and practice.

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