Session: Embodied Experience: Emerging Researchers' Use of Phenomenology As an Empowering Research Method for Diverse Populations (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

55 Embodied Experience: Emerging Researchers' Use of Phenomenology As an Empowering Research Method for Diverse Populations

Friday, January 17, 2020: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Independence BR F, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Cluster: Research Design and Measurement (RD&M)
Symposium Organizer:
Tanzilya Oren, MA, MSW, Fordham University
Suzanne Marmo, PhD, Sacred Heart University
The "new" phenomenology as a hybrid qualitative research method was developed in the U.S. and has been adopted and adapted in social work research. The phenomenological approach keeps participants in the contexts of their life situations and considers the whole person in contrast to examining fragmented characteristics of the persons in isolation, as it is done traditionally in behaviorist and positivist social science research. Phenomenological methodology includes a unique step in the research process, called "bracketing" or epochè, that attempts to separate the researchers' experiences and preconceptions from the data collection and analysis process. By focusing on the lived experiences of participants while bracketing own experiences, phenomenology helps shift power dynamics in the researcher/participant relationship, allowing authentic voice to be expressed.

The types of new phenomenology as a research practice in social work vary from descriptive to interpretivist, influenced both by the American school of phenomenology practitioners such as a Giorgi and Benner, or following the European school of Husserl and Merleau-Ponty.

This symposium focuses on how emerging social work researchers choose, adapt and use phenomenology as a research method with diverse populations. The three papers in this symposium aim to (1) illustrate the process of choice and application of the phenomenological methods with diverse populations to reduce racial and economic justice through allowing for a direct voice of the invisible or marginalized groups, and (2) discuss the challenges and limitations of phenomenology for analyzing lived experience of diverse populations.

The first paper presents the results of a study of a new population of LGB refugees and asylum-seekers. The emerged themes of intersection of LGB and immigrant experiences and activism, homophobia and transphobia, mental health, coping and access to services are discussed following interpretivist phenomenological data abalysis. The challenges of the method included working in another language and with within-sample diversity.

The phenomenon of the intergenerational transmission of housing status on emerging adults' perception of resources available to them is the focus of the second paper. Guided by the theory of social capital, the themes demonstrate that while the outlook of emerging adults in public housing is optimistic, many factors affect their future. The strengths and limitations of Giorgi's phenomenological method are discussed.

The third paper discusses the methodological issues of employing the phenomenological method of Wertz and Giorgi in studying the meaning of the psychotherapy office from the perspective of psychotherapy clients. The rationale and the techniques of identifying and reflecting on meaning units, writing individual structures for each participant, and identifying the essentials of the experience of the psychotherapy room are presented. The lack of diversity in the sample is discussed as a major challenge in this study.

* noted as presenting author
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