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    The feel of experience: phenomenological ideas for organisational research

    Eatough, Virginia and Tomkins, L. (2013) The feel of experience: phenomenological ideas for organisational research. Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management 8 (3), pp. 258-275. ISSN 1746-5648.

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    Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to look at how phenomenology can be used to explore the meaning and experience of organizational life. It argues that phenomenology provides more than just themes or leitmotifs for post hoc analysis of narrative data; in its basic formulation, phenomenology is a way of thinking – a method – which illuminates the embodied, subjective and inter-subjectivequalities of the life-world. Design/methodology/approach – The paper follows Husserl’s command to “go back to the things themselves” to access raw experience, asking ourselves, “what does experience mean phenomenologically?” We draw on the work of Merleau-Ponty to “flesh out” the embodied aspects of that phenomenological experience, outlining how the idea of a “field of presence” grounds our reflections in the here-and-now and gives our selfhood its coherence. Findings – The paper presents data on the diverse meanings of “experience” to suggest that phenomenological and organizational understandings can be differentiated in terms of both temporality and selfhood. The paper argues that these differentiations expose different ways of thinking about the world more generally, drawing on Husserl’s philosophy of the “natural attitude” to propose that one of its derivations, an “organizational attitude”, is obscuring our view of embodied experience. Practical implications – The paper provides practical guidelines for those interested in researching the embodied, experiential qualities of organizational life. These emphasize the need to suspend the “organizational attitude”, modify how the authors position and explain the research, and attend to the interplay between the felt sense of the world and the words used to articulate it. Originality/value – The logic of the body helps the authors to work towards a more integrative, conciliatory epistemological position for qualitative organizational research. The paper uses a phenomenological view of embodiment – as both subjectively experienced and objectively presented to the world – to suggest that the body, particularly when it is sick, is giving us clues for how to conceptualize the life-world of work.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Attitude, Embodiment, Experience, Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Depositing User: Virginia Eatough
    Date Deposited: 28 Jul 2014 10:57
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:12


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