Phenomenology & Grounded Theory Jay Loftus Cathy Takeda Steve Tedesco
Philosophical Description of Phenomenology
In the broadest sense phenomenology is considered a ‘description of experience’. It is a philosophical method restricted to careful analysis of the intellectual process of which we are introspectively aware, without making assumptions about causal connections to existent external objects.
Research Methodology Description of Phenomenology A process ‘in which the researcher identifies the ‘essence’ of human experiences concerning a phenomenon, as described by the participants in a study. Understanding the ‘lived experience’ marks phenomenology as a philosophy as well as a method and the procedure involves studying a small number of subjects through extensive and prolonged engagement to develop patterns and relationships of meaning’ (Moustakas, 1994 in Creswell, 2003). Creswell, J. W. (2003). Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, And Mixed Methods Approaches (2 nd Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Moustakas, C. (1994). Phenomenology research methods . Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Key Words for Phenomenology
Determination of Problem / Dilemma
Questions the researcher must be able to answer:
Is there a shared experience or common set of experiences with a phenomenon?
- Can this shared experience be understood better or more clearly using phenomenology?
2. Philosophical Perspective
Is the researcher able to apply (and understand fully) the assumptions of phenomenology?
Objectivity and distance from ‘scientism’ world view.
Suspension of judgments about reality. Husserl termed this ‘epoche’.
Consciousness is always directed toward an object. (See F. Merrell-Wolff for counter view)
The reality of an object is only perceived within the meaning of experience of an individual.
In depth interviews / multiple interviews
Questions based around experience with a phenomenon and the context of the experience
Attempt to understand common experiences of the participants
Review of interview (transcripts) to highlight common ‘significant statements’ that get at the ‘essence’ of experience.
Researchers will devise ‘clusters of meaning’ from the statements provided.
Separation of statements into ‘common themes’.
Statements are used to provide a description of what participants experienced. These can be based on the context or setting that affected the experience or phenomenon (i.e. imaginative or structural).
Based on these descriptions researchers develop a statement that presents the ‘essence’ of the phenomenon. Through this statement the underlying ‘structure’ of the phenomenon should become apparent.
Thorough understanding of the assumptions and the implications for carrying out this methodology effectively.
Separation of researcher and interpretation of data obtained. The researcher has influence, experience, and beliefs that impact the collection and analysis of data (e.g. epoche)
Research Methodology Description of Grounded Theory Grounded theory study is to move beyond description and to generate or discover a theory, and abstract analytical schema of a process(Strauss & Corbin, 1998 in Creswell, 2003). A key idea is that this theory-development does not come “off the shelf,” but is “grounded” in data from participants. Allan (2003), considers Grounded Theory a form of backwards design to research since the research enters the study free of preconceived hypothesis and grounds their findings on the results of observations. Allan, G. (2003). A critique of using grounded theory as a research method. Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods, 2 (1). Creswell, J. W. (2003). Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, And Mixed Methods Approaches (2 nd Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Key Words for Grounded Theory
Determination of Approach
Is this problem suited for Grounded Theory research?
typically the answer is yes if no theory is available to explain the process
Interviews are conducted to understand how individuals experience the process under investigations.
Iterative interviews are conducted to help shape the coding process of data collection.
There are multiple stages in the data analysis process, many of which focus on the coding process.
Open coding is a method used by the researcher to determine several properties/subcategories of a phenomenon
Axial coding is a method used by the researcher to reorganize the data in new ways (e.g., they may identify a central phenomena, or causal conditions).
Selective coding is the process of connecting categories
The culmination of the collection and analysis process is the development of a “substantive-level theory”
The researcher must enter the study free of any preconceived hypothesis.
Saturation may occur when the researcher can not succinctly describe the phenomena accurately. The converse also presents a similar challenge.
Greckhamer and Koro-Ljungberg (2005) discuss the transferability of methods and how erosion complicated the definition and identification of a method (p. 738).
For discussion this week, please analyze the methodology and conceptual framework sections of your research proposal and write a response regarding how the methods you are using to inform your research design may be susceptible to erosion.
In this response, please also discuss how the transferability of methods has caused puzzlement in your research pursuits thus far, and how you deal with the lack of fidelity that exists in your field of study.