Empirical Phenomenology: A Qualitative Research Approach (The Cologne Seminars)
This paper introduces the philosophical foundation and practical application of empirical phenomenology in social research. The approach of empirical phenomenology builds upon the phenomenology of the philosophers Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger and the sociologist Alfred Schütz, but considers how their more philosophical and theoretical insights can be used in empirical research. It aims at being practically useful for anyone doing qualitative studies and concerned about safeguarding the perspective of those studied. The main idea of empirical phenomenology is that scientific explanation must be grounded in the first-order construction of the actors; that is, in their own meanings. These constructions are then related to the second-order constructions of the scientist. In this paper, empirical phenomenology is considered in the light of phenomenological philosophy. The paper includes an explication of the approach, which is summarized in seven steps through which the researcher is guided, and considers its implications for qualitative methods such as interviewing and participant observation.