Coming to Grips with Life-as-Experienced: Piecing Together Research to Study Stakeholders' Lived Relational Experiences in Collaborative Planning Processes


  • Lieselot Vandenbussche Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • Jurian Edelenbos Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • Jasper Eshuis Erasmus University Rotterdam



lived experiences, methodological bricolage, narrative interviewing, graphic elicitation methods, ethnographic fieldwork


Lived experience remains a key concept in qualitative social science research. The study of life-as-experienced is, however, a project that is methodologically problematic due to the fact that researchers can only come to grips with people's lived experiences through their (re)constructed representations of it. Yet, during this process of (re)constructing, some of the complexity of life-as-experienced is inevitably lost. The methodological challenge is to find an approach that embraces, rather than reduces the complexity of life-as experienced. In qualitative research literature, methodological bricolage has been proposed as such an approach. In this article, we present a concrete example of a bricolaged research approach, provide insights into its potential value and reflect on the challenges we encountered. We discuss how our approach enabled a multi-layered exploration of lived experiences. By creatively blending methods, we were able to tap into different kinds of understanding. Our bricolaged research approach generated: 1. knowledge "from within" and "in-between" research subjects, 2. a kaleidoscopic view of lived experiences, and 3. a processual understanding that embraces the temporal dimension of life-as-experienced. Researchers can benefit from our discussion on this bricolaged approach as there are as of yet few concrete examples of how bricolage can be implemented in practice.


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Author Biographies

Lieselot Vandenbussche, Erasmus University Rotterdam

Lieselot VANDENBUSSCHE is a PhD student at the Department of Public Administration and Sociology of the Erasmus University in Rotterdam. She graduated in educational studies from the Catholic University of Leuven. After finishing her studies, she worked as a community worker in a project aiming to engage local government and citizens in participatory and collaborative policymaking. Her PhD research focuses on the interplay between relating and framing dynamics in collaborative policymaking processes.

Jurian Edelenbos, Erasmus University Rotterdam

Jurian EDELENBOS is full professor at the Department of Public Administration and Sociology and academic director of the Institute of Housing and Urban Development studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam. He conducts research in the areas of civic self-organization, connective management strategies, and trust and network performance.

Jasper Eshuis, Erasmus University Rotterdam

Dr. Jasper ESHUIS is associate professor at the Department of Public Administration and Sociology at Erasmus University Rotterdam. His research focuses on the governance of urban development, with a special interest in public branding and marketing. His research has been published in journals such as Urban Studies, Public Administration Review, and Public Management Review.




How to Cite

Vandenbussche, L., Edelenbos, J., & Eshuis, J. (2019). Coming to Grips with Life-as-Experienced: Piecing Together Research to Study Stakeholders’ Lived Relational Experiences in Collaborative Planning Processes. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 20(1).



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