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Hermeneutic or Descriptive Phenomenology?

October 1, 2010

The role of the researcher seems a key difference to me with regards to either the hermeneutic or descriptive and phenomenological approaches to methodology.

Common to both is the idea that a researcher explicitly documents their personal experience with the phenomenom being studied. In Phenomenological research, a process called bracketing is then used to assist the researcher in setting aside their assumption. I’m not a big fan of this. Seems like it would be impossible to do, to find the right balance of detachment and interest.

While in hermenuetics, the researchers personal experience is used during the analysis phase of the research and used by the researcher to interpret the data.

The hermeneutic approach resonates with me. I have experiences with Twitter, and moments of informal learning on Twitter – strong moments of connection, of relationship building, of both mentoring and being mentored. I have already documented some of this on my blog. These insights can provide perspective when it comes to the interpretive phase. However, I have my biases.

I am a fanboy, and sometimes tend to dismiss issues that others see as important with regard to the use of social networks. Privacy. It is not easy for people to be open. And how open is it really? How authentic is my voice when I am using a social network? Am I truly who I appear to be? Or do I unconciously play a social role when presenting myself in social networking situations.

Perhaps I have control issues. Using Twitter and other SN is a controlled enviornment. I can craft, rewrite, respond and create on my own terms and in my own time. I have the option to think soberly before I hit send, and craft my messages to fit in whatever social context I need them to fit into.

These, and other issues, will need to be expanded on and made explicit in my research.


From → Thesis Research

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