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Reflective & Empirical Methods. Norm Friesen March, 2006. Reflective & Empirical Methods. Reflection: thinking about the question and the phenomenon in a way that opens up its various aspects and dimensions.

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reflective empirical methods

Reflective & Empirical Methods

Norm Friesen

March, 2006

reflective empirical methods1
Reflective & Empirical Methods
  • Reflection: thinking about the question and the phenomenon in a way that opens up its various aspects and dimensions.
  • Empirical: sources of vicarious experience (from: Max van Manen,
reflective empirical
Reflective & Empirical
  • Reflective:
    • Thematic, Guided Existential, Collaborative, Linguistic, Exegetical, Hermeneutic Interview
  • Empirical:
    • Describing, Gathering, Interviewing, Observing, Fictional, Imaginal(from: Max van Manen,
thematic reflection
Thematic Reflection


  • the constellations that make up the universes of meaning we live through. By the patterns and light of these themes we can navigate and explore such universes.
  • Themes are heuristic. They are means "to get at" the phenomenon we are addressing.(from: Max van Manen,
reflection guided existential
Reflection: Guided Existential
  • Lived Time: speeds up, slows down; e.g. of bank machine experience
  • Lived Space: we are the space we’re in; e.g. of different architectural spaces
  • Lived Body: Body as anchorage, way of being, as “object” of observation
  • Lived Relation: relational “distance,” atmosphere, intensity, disconnection(from: Max van Manen,
linguistic reflection
Linguistic Reflection
  • Etymological: histories of words often have rich, life-world significances (experiential residue)
  • Conceptual: understanding differences in meaning in words & expressions.
  • E.g. “Dog”
  • (from: Max van Manen,

Dog-eat dog, underdog,

Top dog, bottom dog


lap dog

teacher's pet


Cur, pariah, bitch, dogsbody

"you dirty dog,” flea bag

mongrel, mutt, gone to the dogs

  • critical, sensitive, and creative reading of related texts:
    • Prevailing theories and constructions as a “foil” for what you are searching for in phenomenological research
    • Prevailing theories and constructions can also point to phenomenological insights
  • Creative, Accidental, Serendipitious sources (video example)(from: Max van Manen,
other forms of reflection
Other forms of Reflection
  • Collaborative: as in this session, with others working together
  • Insight-cultivating: from philosophy and other sources(from: Max van Manen,
phenomenological interview
Phenomenological Interview
  • an interpretive conversation wherein both partners reflectively orient themselves to the interpersonal or collective ground that brings the significance of the phenomenological question into view
  • Keep the question open(from: Max van Manen,
phenomenological interview1
Phenomenological Interview
  • Not structured; can list general questions or beginning script
  • Close to the phenomenon, if possible
  • Ask for reminiscences & speculation
  • Steer away from explanation
  • ASK: “what did you feel” not “what did you think”
  • Comfortable location; follow-up interviews
empirical methods describing
Empirical Methods: Describing
  • start with your own experience
  • the patterns of meaning of one's own experiences are also the possible experiences of others, and therefore may be recognizable by others

(from: Max van Manen,

  • Describe the experience as much as possible as you live(d) through it.
  • Describe the experience from the inside, as it were-almost like a state of mind
  • Focus on a particular example or incident of the object of experience
  • Try to focus on an example of the experience which stands out for its vividness, or as it was the first time(from: Max van Manen,
  • Close and participatory observation
  • E.g. participate in the child’s world
  • Similar to the attitude of the author who is always on the look-out for stories to tell, incidents to remember(from: Max van Manen,
imaginal experiences
Imaginal experiences
  • Non-discursive artistic material as transformed experience
  • E.g. experience of space in nature(from: Max van Manen,