The concepts and methods of phenomenographic research

Richardson, John T. E. (1999). The concepts and methods of phenomenographic research. Review of Educational Research, 69(1) pp. 53–82.



This article reviews the nature of "phenomenographic" research and its alleged conceptual underpinnings in the phenomenological tradition. In common with other attempts to apply philosophical phenomenology to the social sciences, it relies on participants' discursive accounts of their experiences and cannot validly postulate causal mental entities such as conceptions of learning. The analytic procedures of phenomenagraphy are very similar to those of grounded theory, and like the latter they fall foul of the "dilemma of qualitative method" in failing to reconcile the search for authentic understanding with the need for scientific rigor. It is argued that these conceptual and methodological difficulties could be resolved by a constructionist revision of phenomenagraphic research.

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