Experience and Meaning in Qualitative Research: A Conceptual Review and a Methodological Device Proposal

Marianne Daher, David Carré, Andrea Jaramillo, Himmbler Olivares, Alemka Tomicic


The relevance of experience and meaning in qualitative research is mostly accepted and is common ground for qualitative studies. However, there is an increasing trend towards trivializing the use of these notions. As a consequence, a mechanistic use of these terms has emerged within qualitative analysis, which has resulted in the loss of the original richness derived from the theoretical roots of these concepts. In this article, we aim to recover these origins by reviewing theoretical postulates from phenomenological and hermeneutic traditions and to propose their convergence in a holistic perspective. The challenge is to find the local source of meanings that will enlighten on how to understand people's experiences. This discussion is the basis for the encounter context themes (ECT) methodological device, which emphasizes the importance of studying experience and meaning as part of a larger whole: the participants' life-world. Hence, ECT seeks to complement the available methodological tools for qualitatively-oriented studies, recovering—rather than re-creating—a theoretical discussion useful for current qualitative research practices.


experience; meaning; phenomenology; hermeneutics; methodological device

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17169/fqs-18.3.2696

Copyright (c) 2017 Marianne Daher, David Carré, Andrea Jaramillo, Himmbler Olivares, Alemka Tomicic

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