Researching Lived Experience

Human Science for an Action Sensitive Pedagogy

By Max van Manen

Series: SUNY series, The Philosophy of Education
Paperback : 9780791404263, 212 pages, July 1990
Hardcover : 9780791404256, 212 pages, July 1990

Table of contents


1. Human Science


Why Do Human Science Research?
What Is a Hermeneutic Phenomenological Human Science?
What Does it Mean to Be Rational?
What a Human Science Cannot Do
Description or Interpretation?
Research--Procedures, Techniques, and Methods
Methodical Structure of Human Science Research


2. Turning to the Nature of Lived Experience


The Nature of Lived Experience
Orienting to the Phenomenon
Formulating the Phenomenological Question
Explicating Assumptions and Pre-understandings


3. Investigating Experience as We Live It


The Nature of Date (datum: thing given or granted)
Using Personal Experience as a Starting Point
Tracing Etymological Sources
Searching Idiomatic Phrases
Obtaining Experiential Descriptions from Others
Protocol Writing (lived-experience descriptions)
Interviewing (the personal life story)
Observing (the experiential anecdote)
Experiential Descriptions in Literature
Biography as a Resource for Experiential Material
Diaries, Journals, and Logs as Sources of Lived Experiences
Art as a Source of Lived Experience
Consulting Phenomenological Literature


4. Hermeneutic Phenomenological Reflection


Conducting Thematic Analysis
Seeking Meaning
What Is a Theme?
The Pedagogy of Theme
Uncovering Thematic Aspects
Isolating Thematic Statements
Composing Linguistic Transformations
Gleaning Thematic Descriptions from Artistic Sources
Interpretation through Conversation
Collaborative Analysis: The Research Seminar/Group
Lifeworld Existnetials as Guides to Reflection
Determining Incidental and Essential Themes


5. Hermeneutic Phenomenological Writing


Attending to the Speaking of Language
Silence--the Limits and Power of Language
Anecdote as a Methodological Device
The Value of Anecdotal Narrative
Varying the Examples
Writing Mediates Reflection and Action
To Write is to Measure Our Thoughtfulness
Writing Exercises the Ability to See
To Write is to Show Something
To Write is to Rewrite


6. Maintaining a Strong and Oriented Relation


The Relation Between Research/Writing and Pedagogy
On the Ineffability of Pedagogy
"Seeing" Pedagogy
The Pedagogic Practice of Textuality
Human Science as Critically Oriented Action Research
Action Sensitive Knowledge Leads to Pedagogic Competence


7. Balancing the Research Context by Considering Parts and Whole


The Research Proposal
Effects and Ethics of Human Science Research
Plan and Context of a Research Project
Working the Text






Researching Lived Experience introduces an approach to qualitative research methodology in education and related fields that is distinct from traditional approaches derived from the behavioral or natural sciences—an approach rooted in the "everyday lived experience" of human beings in educational situations. Rather than relying on abstract generalizations and theories, van Manen offers an alternative that taps the unique nature of each human situation.

The book offers detailed methodological explications and practical examples of hermeneutic-phenomenological inquiry. It shows how to orient oneself to human experience in education and how to construct a textual question which evokes a fundamental sense of wonder, and it provides a broad and systematic set of approaches for gaining experiential material that forms the basis for textual reflections.

Van Manen also discusses the part played by language in educational research, and the importance of pursuing human science research critically as a semiotic writing practice. He focuses on the methodological function of anecdotal narrative in human science research, and offers methods for structuring the research text in relation to the particular kinds of questions being studied. Finally, van Manen argues that the choice of research method is itself a pedagogic commitment and that it shows how one stands in life as an educator.

Max van Manen, author of several books in education, is Professor of Education at the University of Alberta.