oa Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology - Ambiguous encounters : a relational approach to phenomenological research



This paper offers an account of how to engage one phenomenologically orientated version of relational research based on ideas from existential phenomenological philosophy as well as Gestalt theory, relational psychoanalysis, intersubjectivity theory and feminist methodology. Relational dynamics (both conscious and unconscious) between researcher and co-researcher are explored reflexively using illustrations from various phenomenological projects in which the author has been involved.

The relational approach to phenomenology described involves attending to four interlinked dimensions : open presence, embodied intersubjectivity, dialogic co-creation and entangled selves. The paper aims to show the importance of retaining an open, empathic, embodied presence to another's personhood while acknowledging the power of dialogue to bring to life new realities. Data is seen to emerge out of the researcher / co-researcher relationship and is mutually co-created in this encounter as each touches and impacts on the other. What we can learn and know about another arises within the intersubjective space between. In this zone of ambiguity and uncertainty, the unforeseen hovers and layered meanings invite discovery.


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