The Future of Phenomenology and Qualitative Research

Phenomenological approaches to qualitative research draw their theory and methods from the philosophical tradition of phenomenology, founded by Edmund Husserl and developed by his students and followers. In this respect, there are clear lines of influence from the classic philosophical works to contemporary empirical qualitative methods. However, few phenomenological qualitative studies have had a reciprocal influence on phenomenology’s philosophical or theoretical debates. This is surprising because other empirical applications of phenomenology, such as phenomenological approaches to experimental design in the cognitive sciences, have productively contributed to philosophical inquiry.

In this presentation, I ask why phenomenological qualitative studies have not had a similar influence on the course of philosophical phenomenology. I consider a range of factors, including substantive factors (such as differing aims and levels of interpretive depth) as well as sociological factors (such as differing publication venues and conferences) that may be obstacles to a fruitful back-and-forth between qualitative and philosophical approaches to phenomenology. Following this, I propose an approach to phenomenological qualitative research that may better facilitate critical engagement with philosophical phenomenology, opening new and productive avenues for the future of phenomenology and qualitative research.

This talk is part of the Advanced Qualitative Research Methods course on the Evidence-Based Health Care programme.