Getting It Quite Wrong: Van Manen and Smith on Phenomenology.

Research paper by Dan D Zahavi

Indexed on: 20 Dec '18Published on: 20 Dec '18Published in: Qualitative health research


Max van Manen and Jonathan Smith have recently had an exchange in Qualitative Health Research concerning their respective use of phenomenology. I welcome the attempt to get clearer on what phenomenology amounts to and I agree with van Manen that an overly arbitrary use of the term will lead to an erosion of the reputation of phenomenology. However, I think both of them are to blame for promoting various confusions concerning the nature of phenomenology. The aim of my article is to make some critical remarks concerning van Manen's and Smith's understanding of phenomenology and to suggest alternative resources for qualitative researchers interested in phenomenology.