oa Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology - Dancing between embodied empathy and phenomenological reflection
In phenomenological research, layered understandings emerge from a complex process of experiencing and reflection, engaged in by both researcher and participant. Researcher and participant engage in a dance, moving in and out of experiencing and reflection while simultaneously moving through a shared intersubjective space that is the research encounter. If researchers are to empathise - imaginatively project themselves into participants' experience - they need to be open to this intersubjective space. First, I describe and reflect upon two particular moments of empathy which have arisen in two different phenomenological research interviews. I then attempt to make sense of these encounters with reference to phenomenological theory and philosophy related to empathy and intersubjectivity. A final section discusses some dilemmas we face as researchers when we apply empathy in our phenomenological research practice and considers the epistemological status of our empathic findings.
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