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Researching the intangible: a qualitative phenomenological study of the everyday practices of belonging

Bennett, Julia (2015) Researching the intangible: a qualitative phenomenological study of the everyday practices of belonging. ISSN 1360-7804

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Abstract

How can the intangible aspects of everyday life be uncovered? A phenomenological approach has its origins in the everyday but also allows everything to be questioned. In studying belonging a phenomenological approach supported by a variety of qualitative methods produced a wealth of 'insider' information that could have been missed using more traditional methods. The research was based around multi-generational family groups as a family narrative focuses on relations between different family members over the generations rather than on an individual biography. Biographical interviews in family groups allowed families to talk about their lives together. Diaries put the direction of the research in the hands of the participants thus reversing, to some extent, the traditional power relations between researcher and researched. Through written and photo diaries participants shared details of their daily lives which might have been more difficult to elicit in a formal interview situation. The photos allowed the researcher to 'visit' places which are a part of the daily life of participants in a subtle and non-intrusive manner. These research approaches privilege the voices of the participants in research into their lives. Through demonstrating the richness of the data collected this article argues that such approaches could be used more widely.

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