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Moustakas’ book Phenomenological Research Methods is, in my view, an essential complement to the other books available to research students. Under the chapter called Human Science Perspective and Models Moustaka begins by first exposing the five different qualitative methods currently available in human research:

  1. Ethnography, involving extensive fieldwork;
  2. Grounded Research Theory, where the focus is restricted to unravelling the elements of experience and their relationship
  3. Hermeneutics, similarly concentrating on consciousness and the experience itself while also adding the experience’s historical grounding and associated conditions
  4. Empirical Phenomenological Research, which through a purely descriptive approach seeks to disclose the underlying structures of experience. It is difficult not to notice with this method the parallel between what corresponds to Freud’s condition of free association on the part of the patient and its counterpart in the analyst who is ‘freely’ listening without attaching any importance to one detail in particular’. Also, the phenomenological approach reminds us of the work of interpretation with patients in psychoanalysis when, by ‘adopting a strictly descriptive approach, it let the phenomena speak for themselves. While doing so, one discovers that whatever appears suggests in its very appearance something more which does not appear, which is concealed..’ (p13)
  5. Heuristic Research, which is a process of internal search one discovers the nature and meaning of experience and develops methods and procedures for further investigation and analysis.

What for me makes Moustakas’ Phenomenological Research Methods stand out from all the others on the same subject at the time of this writing is his practical use of short and concrete case-study examples. Moustakas uses those with the view to operationalising the various methodological approach found in qualitative research. Thus, students are given an opportunity to see and understand how, using very short extracts about some specific experience, the analysis should be conducted technically to produce good research.

In the next chapter, Moustakas takes us step-by-step through the conceptual framework of Transcendental Phenomenology discovered by E. Husserl: a philosophic system rooted in subjective openness that is regarded as nothing less than a new radical approach to science.

– See my qualitative research here

– On online lectures about Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, see here

– Find on Amazon here

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: SAGE Publications, Inc; 1 edition (30 Aug. 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780803957992
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803957992

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