Friday, 1 January 2016

Phenomenology and hermeneutic phenomenology - Sloan & Bowe

I'm not sure this paper add much more to my thoughts on Heideggerian phenomenology being the way to go than the previous paper. However, it does talk through some examples of extracts from interviews. This is of use as it shows what does and what doesn't constitute experience (at least in the authors' minds) as opposed to opinion. It concentrates on van Manen's phenomenology, which categorises themes that emerge from the data into four 'existentials':
  1. Lived space - spatiality
  2. Lived body - corporeality
  3. Lived time - temporality
  4. lived human relation - relationality.

Sloan, A. & Bowe, B. (2014). Phenomenology and hermeneutic phenomenology: The philosophy, the methodologies, and using hermeneutic phenomenology to investigate lecturers' experiences of curriculum design. Quality & Quantity, 48, 1291-1303.

1. Introduction

There is always an element of the ineffable to life (van Manen, 1997). This article discusses hermeneutic phenomenology. Within this methodology, one must read texts, which are the spoken accounts of personal experience, and isolate themes, as van Manen describes. Themes are written interpretations of lived experiences. Identifying themes, rather than opinions, can be difficult for an early stage researcher.

2. What is qualitative methodology and what is phenomenology?

Qualitative methodologies recognise the experiential, subjective life world of humans, to describe their experiences in depth. The article then gives an overview of the process.

3. An historical perspective on phenomenology

A discussion of Husserl and then Heidegger's views on phenomenology. Gadamer further developed hermeneutic phenomenology and developed interpretative phenomenological thought into a philosophy now known as gadamerian hermeneutics. This concentrates on how language reveals being  understanding can only come through language. Language is seen as a mode of being (ontological) rather than a mode of knowing (epistemological). van Manen developed Gadamer's work, showing how language reveals being within cultural and historical contexts understood by participant and researcher, and through language.

4. Descriptive vs hermeneutic

Both Husserlian and Heideggerian phenomenology are valid. However, there are differences. Husserlian involves bracketing off influences to reach the essences of the experience.

5. Phenomenology becoming a methodology or approach

As well as a philosophy, phenomenology has developed into a range of methodologies, including: descriptive; hermeneutic, IPA and template analysis.

6. van Manen's hermeneutic phenomenology

van Manen's approach follows that of Gadamer through language revealing being (or existence) within some historical and cultural contexts. The researcher moves through the hermeneutic circle, from part of the text tot the whole and then back to part, to establish truth by discovering phenomena and interpreting them. Through the hermeneutic circle, understanding is brought to a part of the text by its relation to the whole. This then illuminates the part further.

7. Hermeneutic phenomenology and reflexivity

Reflexivity (reflection upon or examination of a situation or experience) can help in interpreting the meanings discovered when using hermeneutic phenomenology. Researchers need to be conscious of, and reflect upon, the ways in which their questions, methods and subject position might impact on the data or interpretation of that data. This is retrospective reflection - on that which has already occurred.

Reflexivity is frequently discussed in hermeneutic phenomenology - the researcher uses empathy or prior experience to aid data analysis and/or interpretation.

8. Interviewing

Open, deep and dialogic interviews are frequently used to gather data in qualitative research methodologies.

9. The research  method

Phenomenology seeks to co-construct knowledge. The focus of the researcher - their questions, their responses - will aid in data gathering as much as the recorded experiences of the participants. When using reflexivity, the researcher's own background, prior knowledge and experience may influence data gathering and analysis.

van Manen's phenomenology allows the use of common experiences between researcher and participant to conduct a structural analysis of the most common, familiar and self-evident. Through this, an evocative description of human actions and experiences as they occur in the life-world are developed.

10. Examples of isolated thematic statements

The authors then run through some excerpts from transcripts from their own research and discuss whether experiences and then themes have been identified or whether the researcher has merely identified opinion.

11. Conclusion

There is a requirement to get to know the text, so that data can be isolated and recognised as being of value to the study or not. When isolated, the experience must be interpreted to represent the phenomenon that the researcher wishes to bring to light. This bringing to light is the contribution to knowledge.

Further Reading

van Manen 1997. Phenomenology of practice

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