The methods of phenomenological theorists
As Cerborn points out, leading phenomenologists rejected normal scientific methods as a way of accessing experience. Nor is the method to be seen as one of introspection, but is rather outward looking, toward "the experience in and of itself". The methods of the theorists are instead often described as modes of reflection.
Husserl introduced the idea of "phenomenological reduction" which required a detached attitude to reflection upon consiousness. For Heiddeger, phenomenology was the method itself, the way of describing Dasein (existence).
Merleau-Ponty described his method as "hyper-reflection" or a "hyper-dialectic", which is aware of the limitations and contradictions of trying to describe things using ideals. Reflection needs to therefore be acutely aware of it own limitations.
Methods from other disciplines
These still call themselves phenomenological in approach, but are broader than philosophy and include social science and psychology. As noted above, they do not necessarily share the same view of the best way to access and describe experience with hardcore phenomenologists.
- Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA)
Semi-structured, exploratory interview, focus group or diary study. Inductive and iterative bottom-up analysis and identification of emergent themes. A reflexive method, sometimes with e.g. use of reflective journal to to capture decision making and learning by the investigator.
Importantly, and therefore distinguishing the method from e.g. grounded theory, is the ideographic focus - analysis of a unique person-in-context.
Thematic analysis focuses on experience - emotions and feelings, cognitive and behavioural reactions.
- Introspective Phenomenology
Observing and reporting investigator's own subjectivity. A kind of auto-ethnography. Use of Experience Sampling Method- realtime notes recording experience, often made at fixed times during the day.
- Conversation Analysis and Discursive Psychology
For a social phenomenology, many see a crucial element to be the structural analysis of communication patterns and practices.
Conversational Analysis (CA) analyses interaction through patters of:
* Turn-taking, with turns often made up of multiple construction units (TCUs);
* Turn design, the selection of action and verbal constructions to achieve these;
* Social action, the action being achieved (and the particpants' understanding of this);
* Sequence organisation, the shape or pattern of a set of turns.
Discursive Psychology is the analysis of discourse for psychological insights. It often deals with elucidating folk psychology, for example analysing the relative use of power-relate, emotional and cognitive terms in social exchanges.
- Narratology and Literature/Art
It might be argued that some of the most direct representations of experience exist in art and literature, in which case analysis of these forms will yield phenomenological insights. A challenge for this approach is how to distinguish the imagined as opposed to a "genuinely felt" experience. That said, many philosophers do use examples and thought experiments based on fictional cases.
: Cerbone, 2. 2012. Phenomenological method: reflection, introspection, and skepticism In: Zahavi, D. (ed) The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Phenomenology DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199594900.013.0002 http://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199594900.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780199594900-e-2