Thursday, July 11, 2013

Phenomenology: An Introduction




A research strategy provides the overall direction of the research. Deciding between theoretical or empirical research is an important decision in research strategy. Theoretical research requires intensive textual investigation while empirical research requires primary data collection and use of secondary data. Theoretical research is more intellectually demanding and the risk of failure is greater than empirical work.

In empirical research, there are two research orientations: positivistic and phenomenological.

Phenomenology has origins in social sciences, especially in Psychology, where it has developed into a recognized branch of the discipline.

Phenomenology – Definitions

Cohen and Manion (1987): ’Phenomenology is a theoretical point of view that advocates the study of direct experience taken at face value; and one which sees behaviour as determined by the phenomena of experience rather than by external, objective and physically described reality.’

Rudestein and Newton (1992):  “Phenomenology attempts to describe and elucidate the meanings of human experience.”

Camus (O’ Brien,1965): “Phenomenology declines to explain the world, it wants to be merely a description of actual experience.” 

Boland (1985): “Phenomenology is a term that carries a great deal of ambiguity along with its sometimes confused and faddish use.”

Phenomenology – Explanation

The central premise is that the researcher should be concerned to understand phenomena in depth and that this understanding should result from attempting to find tentative answers to questions such as ‘What?’  ‘Why?’ and ‘How?’

Phenomenology contends that such understanding is essential and will not come from answering the questions ‘How many?’ or ‘How much?’

Phenomenology assumes that knowledge can be gained by concentrating on phenomena experienced by people.

At the heart of the phenomenology is the relationship between self and society, as expressed in the work of Mead (1934), the originator of phenomenological psychology.

Clegg and Dunkerley (1980) took the position that in research involving people, the variables being manipulated could not be treated as independent of the ‘meaning which individuals assigned to them. This is one of the fundamental assumptions of phenomenological researchers. People have the ability to think, argue, and experience the world of events in idiosyncratic ways. The positivistic research strategy cannot deliver an understanding of these human dimensions.

Resources on the web

Phenomenology as Research Method, by Beverley Campbell,
Victoria University of Technology

Ehrich, Lisa (2005) "Revisiting phenomenology: its potential for management
In Proceedings Challenges or organisations in global markets, British
Academy of Management Conference, pages pp. 1-13, Said Business School, Oxford

Hawley, Georgina, A phenomenological study of the health-care related spiritual needs of multicultural Western Australians, Ph d thesis, 2002

Unwin, Bren Carolyn, Phenomenology and Landscape Experience: A Critical Appraisal For Contemporary Art Practice

My Thesis Prospectus

Durie, Robin, Phenomenology and Deconstruction

Marlow, Susan Anne, A Voyage of Grief and Beauty: a Phenomenological Study of the Experience of Supporting a Family Member with an Intellectual Disability Who is Dying in a Community Setting

Phenomenology as an Educational Research Method--van Manen

Interpretation in Phenomenology

Phenomenology, Interpretation, and Community (Google eBook)
Leonore Langsdorf, Stephen H. Watson, E. Marya Bower

SUNY Press, 1996 - Philosophy - 295 pages
Google Book Link with preview facility

Phenomenological Interpretation of Kant's Critique of Reason
by Martin Heidegger
Google book link

The Role and Influence of Interpretation in Hermeneuticphenomenological Research
Currents: New Scholarship in the Human Services, 2008

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