Purcell, C. (2014). Phenomenology. In: Cockerham, W. C.; Dingwall, R. and Quah, S. eds. The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Health, Illness, Behavior, and Society. Not Set, pp. 1825–1829.



Phenomenology is concerned with the structures of human consciousness; the “lived experience” of the everyday world (or “lifeworld”); and individual meaning-making within that world. Phenomenological perspectives – such as those influenced by the theories of Alfred Schutz and Maurice Merleau-Ponty – aim to set aside presuppositions about the intersubjectively constituted social world in order to examine and contextualize first-person experience as accounted for in individuals’ own words. Key phenomenological contributions to understandings of health and illness include accounts of pain and the “dys-appearing” body, and a range of feminist critiques of normative embodiment and health care.

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