Investigating modes of being in the world: an introduction to Phenomenologically grounded qualitative research

Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 22 (1):149-169 (2021)
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In this article, we develop a new approach to integrating philosophical phenomenology with qualitative research. The approach uses phenomenology’s concepts, namely existentials, rather than methods such as the epoché or reductions. We here introduce the approach to both philosophers and qualitative researchers, as we believe that these studies are best conducted through interdisciplinary collaboration. In section 1, we review the debate over phenomenology’s role in qualitative research and argue that qualitative theorists have not taken full advantage of what philosophical phenomenology has to offer, thus motivating the need for new approaches. In section 2, we introduce our alternative approach, which we call Phenomenologically Grounded Qualitative Research (PGQR). Drawing parallels with phenomenology’s applications in the cognitive sciences, we explain how phenomenological grounding can be used to conceptually front-load a qualitative study, establishing an explicit focus on one or more structures of human existence, or of our being in the world. In section 3, we illustrate this approach with an example of a qualitative study carried out by one of the authors: a study of the existential impact of early parental bereavement. In section 4, we clarify the kind of knowledge that phenomenologically grounded studies generate and how it may be integrated with existing approaches.

Author Profiles

Allan Køster
Aalborg University
Anthony Vincent Fernandez
University of Southern Denmark


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