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WHAT IS PHENOMENOLOGICAL RESEARCH?. Dr. Blaine E. Hatt Schulich School of Education Nipissing University Research Symposium – Brantford Campus 08 December 2011. PHENOMENOLOGICAL INQUIRY. Write a short, detailed account of what it was for you to experience being one of the following:

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what is phenomenological research


Dr. Blaine E. Hatt

Schulich School of Education

Nipissing University

Research Symposium – Brantford Campus

08 December 2011

phenomenological inquiry
  • Write a short, detailed account of what it was for you to experience being one of the following:
  • “a digital native”
  • “a digital immigrant”
  • “a digital refugee”.
phenomenological inquiry3
  • What is an experience, recorded in an interview or conversation, that might be associated with being a “digital native”; “digital immigrant”, or “digital refugee”?
  • What are some themes that might be associated with being a “digital native”; “digital immigrant”, or “digital refugee”?
phenomenological inquiry4
  • Origins:
  • German philosopher Husserl
  • Transcendental phenomenology
    • A scientific study of the appearance of things, of phenomena just as we see them and as they appear to us in the subconscious
phenomenological inquiry5
  • Intentionality, noema and noesis are concepts central to phenomenology.
  • Noema is that which is expereinced
  • Noesis is the way in which it is experienced
  • Husserl’s “back to things themselves” is a way of emphasizing knowledge that is rooted in meanings, rather than in an analysis of physical objects.
phenomenological inquiry6
  • Origins:
  • French phenomenologist Merleau-Ponty
  • Termed: Classical phenomenologist approach (Crotty, 1996)
    • The phenomenological enterprise is more of a philosophical enterprise
phenomenological inquiry7
  • Van Manen (1990/1997):
  • Hermeneutical phenomenology
    • Phenomenological inquiry is the essence of lived experience and the interpretation of that essence which leads to a different way of knowledge being constructed
phenomenological inquiry8
  • The content of this power point presentation is heavily excerpted from the following text:
  • van Manen, M. (1997) Researching lived experience: Human science for an action sensitive pedagogy. London, ON: The Althouse Press
phenomenological inquiry9
  • Possibilities of hermeneutical phenomenological research are inexhaustive because we are able to research almost any phenomenon, any lived experience, as human response.
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  • Limitation of hermeneutical phenomenology: it does not go beyond interpretation; it does not become emancipatory
  • Critics of phenomenological inquiry – research needs to do more than offer understanding about human experience.
phenomenological inquiry11
  • However, the importance of interpretive models such as hermeneutical phenomenology place human situatedness central and are based on the belief that we can best understand human beings from the experiential reality of their lifeworlds (xi)
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  • How do we experience the lifeworld?
  • In order to turn to the lifeworld we must be as unbiased as possible – we must dislodge and confront our unexamined assumptions (xii).
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  • The world is given to us and actively constituted by us, reflecting on it phenomenologically, we are presented with possibilities of individual and collective self-understanding and thoughtful praxis (xi)
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  • Divergent inquiry models make us aware of enduring and shared human science concerns
    • Autobiography brings home the uniqueness of personal experience and the priority of the self
    • Narrative inquiry has shown the power of the story to shape personal and collective history
    • Feminism and cultural studies prove the importance of contextualizing interpretive meaning
    • Poststructuralism makes us more pointedly aware of the subjective and intersubjective roots of meaning
phenomenological inquiry15
  • Approaching lived experiences as unbiased as possible.
  • Recognize the theme of uniqueness:
    • Language is simply inadequate in describing experience
    • Words fall short –language is essentially social – only through the collectivity of language can we access our own experience and that of others
    • Language creates and describes an inter-subjective world – we live in collective realms of meanings
    • Language lets us know what is experience-able
phenomenological inquiry16
  • Recognize the theme of uniqueness:
    • Hermeneutic phenomenology employs modes of discourse that try to merge cognitive and non-cognitive, gnostic and pathic ways of knowing
    • We understand things intellectually or conceptually but we also experience things in corporeal, relational, enactive, and situational modalites
    • Hermeneutic phenomenology tries to explicate meanings that in some sense are implicit inour actions – we know things through our bodies, through our relations with others, through interaction with the things of the world
phenomenological inquiry17
  • Recognize the theme of essences:
    • Essence is not a single, fixed property by which we know something; rather, it is meaning constituted by a complex array of aspects, properties, and qualities – some of which are incidental and some of which are more critical to the being of things
    • Essence asks what something “is”, without which it would no longer be what it is and it asks the question while being aware of context, (inter)subjectivity, language, etc.
    • Every interpretation can be called into question; every inquiry we can begin anew; every hermeneutical phenomenological conversation is unending
phenomenological inquiry18
  • Recognize the theme of (in)commensurability:
    • Experience is personal and influenced by factors such as gender, culture, etc.
    • Is the phenomenological attitude compatible with the feminist one?
    • Both attempt ot find mode of discourse, voice, and expression that can reveal felt meaning that goes beyond the prevailing paradigm of logic, cognition, prediction, and control. In this sense hermeneutic phenomenology seems to be quite amenable to feminine forms of knowing, inquiring, and writing.
phenomenological inquiry19
  • Recognize the theme of language:
    • Hermeneutic phenomenological inquiry is not a closed system
    • Experience is always more immediate, more enigmatic, more complex more ambiguous than any description in langugae can do justice to
    • The human researcher is a scholar-author who must be able to maintain an almost unreasonable faith in the power of language to make intelligible and understandable what always seems to lie beyond language
    • Herein lies the relevant and continuing contribution of hermeneutic phenomenology for the epsitemology of profesional practice
phenomenological inquiry20
  • Research using phenomenology seeks to uncover the meanings in our everyday existence.
  • Phenomenological research/writing succeeds when we make these things recognizable.
phenomenological inquiry21
  • Hermeneutic phenomenological research is an interplay of six research activities:
    • 1) turning to a phenomenon that seriously interests us and commits us to the world
    • 2investigating experience as we live it rahter than as we conceptualize it
    • Reflectiong on the essential themes which characterize the phenomenon
phenomenological inquiry22
  • 4) describing the phenomenon through the art of writing and rewriting
  • 5) manipulating a strong and oriented pedagogical relation to the phenomenon
  • 6) balancing the research context by considering parts and whole (pp. 30-31)
phenomenological inquiry23
  • Producing lived experience descriptions:
    • 1) describe the experience as you live9d) through it avoiding, where possible, causal explanations, generalizations, or abstract interpretations
    • 2) describe the experience from the inside like a state of mind: the feelings, the mood, the emotions, etc.
    • 3) focus on a particular example or incident of the object of experience: describe specific events, an adventure, a happening, a particular experience.
phenomenological inquiry24
  • 4) focus on an example of the experience which stands out for its vividness, or as it was the first time.
  • 5) attend to how the body feels, how things smell(ed), how they sound(ed), etc.
  • 6) avoid trying to beautify your account with fancy phrases or flowery terminology (pp. 66-67).
  • The description is less concerned with factual accuracy and more focused on the person’s living sense of the experience. What is it like to live though an experience?
phenomenological inquiry25
  • “To do human science research is to be involved in the crafting of text. In order to come to grips with the structure of meaning of the text… in terms of meaning units, structures of meaning or themes. Reflecting on lived experience then becomes reflectively analyzing the structural or thematic aspects of that experience” (p. 78).
phenomenological inquiry26
  • Isolating thematic statements:
    • 1) the wholistic or sententious approach which is more global, seeking overall meaning of the text
    • 2) the highlighting approach which focuses on phrases or sentences that stand out in the text
    • 3) the detailed line-by-line approach which is a close examination of the text sentence by sentence
    • The structuring of meaning with themes sets the stage for the process of “bringing speech to something”, the art of writing and re-writing
phenomenological inquiry27
  • “Human science research is a form of writing. Creating a phenomenological text is the object of this research process” (p. 111).
  • “All writing is a kind of alienated speech, and its signs need to be transformed back into speech and meaning. Because this meaning has undergone self-alienation through being written down, this transformation back is the real hermeneutical task” (Gadamer, 1994/1960, p. 393).
  • The research process itself is practically inseparable from the writing process (p. 167).
phenomenological inquiry28
  • Hermeneutical phenomenology of a lived experience is a search for an organizational form and organic wholeness of the text consistent with the methodological emphasis of the research approach.
  • 1) Thematically: use the emerging themes as generative guides for writing the research study – divide the study into chapters, parts or sections that articulate the theme that is being described.
One’s writing analytically of the research is an ever-widening search for ground.
  • If the research involves in-depth conversational interviews with certain persons, then those interviews may be reworked into restructured life stories, or analyzed for relevant anecdotes, or incidents described in the interviews may be used to construct fictionalized antinomous accounts that bring out contrasting ways of seeing or acting in concrete situations (p. 170).
In reconstructing life stories or selecting anecdotes include only material that illustrates or highlights a theme. This theme becomes the hermeneutic tool by which the phenomenon under study can be meaningful understood.
Hermeneutical phenomenological research reintegrates part and whole, the contingent and the essential, value and desire…. It makes us thoughtfully aware of the consequential in the inconsequential, the significant in the taken-for-granted. Phenomenological descriptions, if done well, are compelling and insightful (p. 8).