Philosophical Overview and Underpinnings
The way we think about a phenomenon has greatly and definitely been influenced by phenomenology which is a school of philosophy with wide spread recognition. Phenomenology which has its origins in European disciplines remains one of the most debated and most sought after interesting debates of this century. It has received immense worldwide recognition and it has application in nearly all subjects such as science and technology, medical science and education in general. Due to the philosophical and methodological strengths it enjoys, it has remained relatively free from fierce criticisms, unlike other research designs that employ the qualitative approach. It is an all-encompassing term that covers all areas in a wide range of research approaches and philosophical movements (Kafle, 2013).
Initiated by Husserl (1859-1838), the phenomenological movement is a new and radical way of approaching philosophy. Theorists who came later such as Heidegger (1889-1976) remodeled the extrapolation of phenomenology to focus on elaborating hermeneutic (interpretive) and existential dimensions instead of a philosophical discipline based on the consciousness and essences of phenomena (Finlay, 2009).
Description of a lived experience of an event or phenomena is the main objective of research on phenomenology. The methods used in analyzing data, in this instance, must not be the same as those used in quantitative or traditional research methods because this is a qualitative analysis of research data. Phenomenology, as a philosophical research discipline is associated with the works of Merleau-Ponty and Derrida, Sarte, Levinas, Arendt, Gadamer, Heidegger and Husserl (Moran, 2000). Carl Stumpf referred to it as a pre-science due to its position prior to making claims of any existing knowledge (Spiegelberg, 1982).
The philosophies of all phenomenological researchers are often used to strengthen present qualitative research although none of them developed any research methodology (Fleming et al., 2003). Furthermore, the founding of empirical philosophy, which is both a priori philosophical science and descriptive method drawn for this method, is credited to Husser (Owen, 1996). The concept of phenomenological reduction is the main epistemological strategy of phenomenology. This concept was first put forward by Husserl then revision was done by Heidegger and the subsequent reinvention carried out by Merleau-Ponty. Levinas did the endorsement based on ethical emphasis (Moran, 2000).
So that what Giorgi (2000a) refers to as scientific practices (p. 4) to be carried out, the philosophical insights of phenomenology must be arbitrated. If, indeed, the philosophy of Husserl as it was conceived initially were to be pursued by nurse researchers, they would be actually practicing philosophy instead of researching (Giorgi, 2000a).
Quite literally, the use of the term 'reduction' implies that an individual reduces the world from the way it is regarded in the natural attitude to a sphere of pure phenomena or in a poetic sense, to a realm of pure phenomena (Valle et al., 1989, p. 11).
Phenomenological intuiting, as identified by Spiegelberg (1982) is the core of phenomenological reduction. This is an eidetic interpretation of what is meant and understood in describing the phenomena being studied (Scheubert and Carpenter, 2003). It is the process of coming to understand the phenomena as it reveals itself in the way described by the participants as Parse (2001) describes it (p.79).
Two distinct differences exist between what is now referred to as American phenomenology or new phenomenology, according to Caelli (2000) and what the philosopher Silverman (1987) calls the Continental or European phenomenology. To begin with, the questions of American phenomenology do not always try to unravel the pre-reflective experiences but entail interpretations and thoughts of the experiences in the collected and analyzed data (Caelli, 2000).
According to Crotty (1996) the absence of emphasis on phenomenological reduction is vital. He contends that the essence of the phenomena being investigated may be brought to the fore through the process of phenomenological reduction. A broader view of what constitutes phenomenological research is, however, taken by Caelli (2000) who argues that reflective and thoughtful interpretation of previous description of experience provided by study participants entails a larger canvass on which description of a phenomena can be painted more elaborately than traditional phenomenology alone can provide (p. 373)
The work of Heideggerian phenomenology, therefore strongly influences new phenomenology by emphasizing and acknowledging the historical constraints on the methodology by the researchers themselves and other interpretations (Racher and Robinson, 2003). This is a moot point because Husserl (1970) was more focused...
The objective of interpretative phenomenology, as Benner (2000) argues, is to search for commonalities…in meanings that are culturally grounded (p. 104). Even so, both Heidegger and Husserl rigorously criticized the effects that traditions and culture might impart on the correct evaluation of phenomena (Caelli, 2000).
This new development is a reflection of what Caelli (2000) posits is a modern philosophical thinking which takes cognizance of the fact that it is not possible for people to think actuarially (p. 371). A suggestion by Benner (2000) is that the approach of phenomenology to the study of cultural and social context creates the necessary possibilities for the conditions of the experienced illness. In this regard, analysis centers on a description of the lived experience of the participants within a cultural context as opposed to its universal meaning. This is in brief the American phenomenology (Caelli, 2000).
In nursing literature as Giorgi (2000) admits there are several instances of weak application, which are found in the philosophical form and not the scientific type of phenomenology. The views of Giorgi (2000b) are the most appropriate of all the responses to the observations of Crotty (1996). He argues the assertions that scientific phenomenology is only after establishing the subjective experience of people by Crotty is misplaced, for instance, where nurses ask for what is referred to as subjective experience, they are only seeking description of events in the world as human subjects experience them (p. 13) The emphasis is Giorgi's. He poses further that because the type of experience is dependent on the way in which it took place or is experienced; it is hard for one to get accurate description from the participants (p. 14). It is also argued that the main thrust of research in phenomenology is still geared towards answering the question as to what the nature of this phenomenon as an integral experience to humans actually is (van Manen, 1990, p. 62).
Collection of Data
Data in a phenomenological research can be gathered in any form that the participants choose to describe the phenomenal experiences they have gone through. Their description of various experiences can be employed in an interview to collect data. Their written or oral self-reports can also be used besides their aesthetic expressiveness such as in poetry, art or narratives (Moustakas, 1994).
Scientific researchers on human phenomenology prefer the interview method of data collection because they are often interested in the meaning inherent in a phenomenon as it has been experienced by other disciplines. Solely collecting data by oneself would be seen as more of an endeavor of philosophy. An example of this can be found in Giorgi (2009, p. 95-95). The primary concern here is that, as phenomenological researchers, we are focused on other people's subjectivity and therefore it would appear logical that we would be interested in getting a description of similar subjectivity. An attempt to discover the scientific meaning of a particular phenomenon in humans can also be achieved by gathering data from others. Often, phenomenologists have tried to justify the importance of evaluating how both the phenomenon appears in an inter-subjective community and in an individual (Zahavi, 2001).
The practice of phenomenology has taken place despite ever underrating the efforts other natural sciences have made. This means both human sciences and natural sciences are invaluable in terms of trying to understand and explain a phenomenon. The main criterion used to determine what kind of research method ought to be used is the first or original research question. This question should be based on a research problem or a research interest but not on the norms or traditions. Additionally, the actual experiment is dependent upon the assumption that the participant, for instance, the researcher, is able to observe that object. In contrast, the interview is founded on the availability of a participant as a researcher to another participant. In this way, the association between subject and object is different from that of subject to subject even in a superficial way. This, therefore, makes the criteria of evaluative methodology of the criteria of the study procedure to be also different. As a result of such differences the human scientist of phenomenology faces various challenges throughout the process of the whole research which makes it different from what the natural scientists experience (Englander, 2012).…
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