Research Approach: Phenomenonology

02Feb12

Phenomonology, the study of social phenomena. My first understanding of this topic is that it is very relevant to the area of study I am interested in. Martyn Denscombe, in his ‘Good Research Guide‘ provides a checklist describing what phenomenological should consist of. All of which seem appropriate to me for my study of Successful Communications Techniques from a Public Relations perspective.

1> This research is concerned with: [A] Looking for the essential features of a phenomenon. [B] Describing the everyday rules by which experience is structured. [C] Describing the nature and content of lived experiences.

2> This research shall provide a description which adequately deals with the complexity and subtlety of the phemonenon.

3> Efforts shall be made to minimise the effects of this researchers pre-suppositions and common sense on what aims to be a pure description of phenomena.

4> This research shall attempt to authentically represent the way things are seen by those whose expereiences are being studied.

5> This research shall be searching for shared ways of interpreting experinece and underlying essential features of a phenomenon.

6> This research shall take into account multiple versions of reality* and the social construction of reality (primarily through language).

7> Finally, the research should involve suitable use of interviews and transcripts for checking members’ meanings and intentions. (This is essential to ensure readers have the best chance possible of interpreting this work “successfully”)

*Public Relations theories, such as Stakeholder Thory, the theories of Mass Manipulation proposed by Edward Bernays, and the Two-Way Communication Models proposed by Grunig & Hunt all suggest that considering multiple versions of reality is an essential part of the communication process.

For these reasons, I feel a phenomenological approach may be the most appropriate way to continue with my own research. The next step for me now is to explore in further depth the debate on phenomenological approaches to research, namely between the European tradition (the essence of human experience) and the North American Tradition (concerned with how people interpret social phenomena).

Study of key figures such as Edmund Husserl, Martin Heddiger, Jean Paul Sarte, Alfred Schutz shall provide more detailed information on the varying viewpoints of how Phenomenological Research should be approached.

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