Thursday, May 5, 2011

two textbooks of phenomenological psychology

I found two contrasting passages in two textbooks of phenomenological psychology. They are interesting to know about the historical development of phenomenological psychology, which differentiated itself from phenomenology as philosophy.

1. Looking back his younger days, Amedeo Giorigi (he has been one of the leading figures in phenomenological psychology) says;

My sabbatical semester began in January 1969 and lasted until July of that year. My home base was the University of Aarhus in Denmark, but I was free to travel extensively and I sought out every phenomenological psychologist that I could find. I visited Copenhagen, Stockholm, Utrecht, Louvain, Heidelberg, and any other place that had someone who might be doing phenomenological psychological research. To make a long story short, I did not find anyone who had a research program using a phenomenological method in psychology. There were certainly some psychologists who had interests in phenomenological psychology, but they were not carrying out research with a phenomenological method. What passed for phenomenological psychology was mostly a theoretical critique of mainstream psychology or else some interesting phenomenological analyses that failed to articulate a method. It almost seemed as though I were pursuing a will-o'-the-wisp.
[Giorgi, A. (2009). The Descriptive Phenomenological Method in Psychology: A Modified Husserlian Approach. Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press. p.xii]

2. Looking to the future for phenomenological psychology, Darren Langdridge says;

The future is looking promising for phenomenological psychology. The rapid growth in qualitative methods, especially in social and applied psychology, clearly signals the need for approaches that prioritize understanding and focus on the meanings of experiences for participants......although phenomenology may no longer be such an active form of philosophy, the developments in continental philosophy --such as the turn to narrative-- have been taken up by phenomenological psychologists and used to further develop methods of enquiry appropriate to the needs of the social sciences and study of human nature.
[Langdridge, D. (2007). Phenomenological Psychology: Theory, Research and Method. London: Pearson. pp.167-8]

What a change in forty years!

As the academic situation has changed, phenomenology seemes to have lost its actuality in philosophy and thought but gained its popularity as one of the qualitative methods in psychology and other social sciences.

This is not a bad story for the psychologists who seek for the alternative methodology. But hmm... is this the future which Edmund Husserl himself dreamed of?