Humanistiske forskningstilnærminger til profesjonspraksis [Humanities-based Approaches to Researching Professional Practice]
Chapter: Experience & Story: Some Phenomenological and Hermeneutical Reflections on the use of Stories in Empirical Research
Contributor: James McGuirk
Editors: Catrine Torbjørnsen Halås, Ingjerd Gåre Kymre, and Kari Steinsvik
Chapter Description: This chapter offers some reflections on the precise nature of the status that research based on narrative, including the researcher’s own narrative(s), can have in terms of what we normally think of as the empirical and the scientific. My thoughts on this matter are largely inspired by the phenomenological and hermeneutical schools of thought, and especially their focus on subjectivity as a field of research. I begin by giving a brief overview of what the phenomenological perspective on research in subjectivity is. According to Edmund Husserl, what is at stake in Phenomenology is the procurement of an ‘unnatural’ perspective on one’s own experience, so that it may become an ‘object’ of research. I will then turn to the hermeneutical tradition, especially the thought of Paul Ricoeur, to argue that stories or narratives provide an exemplary way of objectifying one’s experience, so that research into subjectivity avoids becoming subjectivist, while the story becomes a laboratory for exploring possibilities of understanding and action. I will argue throughout, that this process of reflecting and exploring be understood in terms of Husserl’s notion of eidetic reflection, which involves an imaginative play of possibilities. At stake is uncovering the actual and potential meanings in experience such that they provide insights both backwards and forward in time. The intention of this discussion is to contribute to what experience-based research might be.