The Qualitative Research Series - Phenomenological description or interpretation? A conversation with two phenomenologists - Prof. Kathleen Galvin and Dr Pirjo Vuoskoski

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Welcome to another episode of The Words Matter Podcast.

Again, I want to start by thanking all of you that are supporting the podcast via Patreon – its hugely appreciated and keeps the episodes flowing.

So we have reached episode 6 of the qualitative series, flying high above the different methodologies and occasionally landing to get a deeper sense of their philosophies, theories and methods.

Today I am excited to speak with not just one, but two phenomenologists to give us a really rich view of phenomenology and its application to qualitative research.

Kathleen Galvin is Professor of Nursing Practice at the University of Brighton in the UK. Her research spans phenomenology, philosophy, qualitative research, the arts and humanities in health and action research. Her current research programme explores peoples’ experiences of a range of health issues, and using phenomenological-oriented philosophy develop novel theoretical framework for caring practices. This includes contributions to new theoretical perspectives on well-being, suffering and humanising approaches to human services.

Dr Pirjo Vuoskoski is a Senior Lecturer in Health Sciences (Physiotherapy Teacher Education) at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland. She teaches and conducts research in the intersecting areas of qualitative research and phenomenology, and physiotherapy. Pirijo is particularly interested in experiential phenomena and phenomenological contributions in regard to learning, teaching and assessment, in physiotherapy, educational and healthcare contexts. Methodologically, her particular interest is applied Husserlian (descriptive, pre-transcendental) phenomenology. She is currently working on phenomenological research that attends to the lived experiences of peer learning and mentoring, and practice-based assessment.

Alongside Prof. Kathleen Galvin and Dr Kitty Suddick, Pirjo will shortly be co-editing a special edition in the International Journal of Qualitative Methods that draws upon and honours the foundational contribution of philosophical thinking to a range of diverse phenomenological research perspectives.

So in this episode we speak about:

  • Phenomenology as both a philosophical theory, method and also a qualitative research methodology.
  • About the farther of phenomenology Edmund Husserl and distinguish between his epistemological project and the ontological approach offered by his student Martin Heidegger.
  • Kate and Pirijo share their views on the different respective phenomenological qualitative research approaches, namely hermeneutic and descriptive; using Dr Kitty Suddick's PhD research as an example of hermeneutic and Pirijo's PhD work as an example of descriptive phenomenological qualitative research.
  • The idea of the ‘lifeworld’ in relation to phenomenological research (see paper on lifeworld research by Karen Dalhberg here and her paper on the phenomenon of loneliness here).
  • What makes phenomenological research phenomenological (see paper here).
  • How phenomenology, when used a as a framework for qualitative enquiry informs the methods such as data generation, sampling and data analysis.
  • The concept and practice of ‘bracketing’ in phenomenological qualitative research.
  • Finally, Kate and Pirijo offer some helpful advice about both embarking on phenomenological research but also incorporating phenomenology into practice (Kate recommends a book by Fred Wertz 'Five ways of doing qualitative analysis here)

So this was an absolute treat. To witness two experienced interlocutors share their deep knowledge of phenomenology was such an experience. The conversation begins by digging quite deep into some of the rich philosophy of phenomenology, but surfaces again mid way to locate these important ideas to the practice of qualitative research.

Find Pirijo on Twitter @h_pirjo

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