Qualitative research is a multidisciplinary field of practice that acknowledges and values the situatedness and subjectivities of the researcher. Therefore, reflexively accounting for one’s subjectivities is a crucial part of a research report. Less discussed is how subjective understandings are historically, culturally, and socially mediated, often challenging researchers’ abilities to orient themselves critically to this self-reflective undertaking. Phenomenology is a philosophical approach investigating how phenomena such as subjectivity are constituted in experience. This makes phenomenology an essential resource for understanding how complex subjective responses manifest differently depending on one’s orientation to the situation. This paper aims to familiarize qualitative research instructors and learners with a series of phenomenological activities that have proven helpful in disclosing multiple ways subjectivities are historically and contextually mediated, embodied, and technologically modified.


teaching qualitative research, subjectivity, phenomenology, orientation, embodiment, lived experience, technology

Author Bio(s)

Melissa Freeman is Professor of Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methodologies at the University of Georgia, USA. Her research is cross-disciplinary and focuses on the ways theories of interpretation and meaning-constitution have been conceptualized by philosophers and taken up in qualitative research practice. Her interests include philosophical hermeneutics, phenomenology, and artful ways of understanding. She has conducted qualitative and ethnographic research and evaluations in schools, university settings, youth programs, and art museums. She has articles in Qualitative Inquiry, Qualitative Research, The Journal of Applied Hermeneutics, International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, The Qualitative Report, New Directions for Evaluation, the American Journal of Evaluation, and is the author of Modes of Thinking for Qualitative Data Analysis (Routledge, 2017) and Researching Children’s Experiences (with Sandra Mathison, Guilford Press, 2008). Please direct correspondence to freeman9@uga.edu.

E. Anthony Muhammad is an Assistant Professor of Educational Research and affiliate faculty in the department of Africana studies at Georgia Southern University. As a critical qualitative methodologist, his research agenda combines qualitative methodologies and critical frameworks to educate, emancipate, and transform. His research interests include Black Existential Philosophy, the phenomenology of Black embodiment, philosophical hermeneutics, and the intersection of racial and religious alterity. E. Anthony holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Southern University and A&M College (a Historically Black College/University), a master’s degree in I/O Psychology from the University of Baltimore, and a Ph.D. in Qualitative Research Methodologies from the University of Georgia. Please direct correspondence to emuhammad@georgiasouthern.edu.

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