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The Experience of Living in an Animistic Lifeworld Juxtaposed to the Western Worldview in the United States Using Phenomenological Methodologies

By: Published: 2018 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases in Psychology
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This research case study describes undertaking a phenomenological study where two phenomenological methods (Giorgi’s descriptive phenomenological method and Moustakas’s heuristic method) were used and adapted to suit the aim of the research. I introduce the phenomenological research methods and then describe the process and the results. For clarity, I refer to this overview of the underlying research as “this case study”; I refer to the underlying research study that formed the basis of my dissertation as “the research study.” The research study was initially conducted as a doctoral research project. After completing my research and receiving my doctorate, I continued for several years to hone an article for publication. The research study sought to disclose the meaning for and experience of individuals who navigate two often-disparate ideological and experiential “lifeworlds” within the culture of the United States. These two worlds can be described, respectively, as animistic—experiencing the natural world as relational, alive, and communicative—and Western mainstream—being embedded in and giving priority to materialism and rationalism. The research study aimed to reveal the essence of the experience of functioning well within the mainstream culture while experiencing an animistic lifeworld. The animistic worldview is at odds in significant ways with the belief systems underlying the prevailing worldview and is often misunderstood and demeaned. Due to the controversial nature of the research study, I faced the need to challenge some cultural assumptions and to face some of my own discomfort about disclosure: both were important and necessary to the process.

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