Presenting phenomenology: faithfully recreating the lived experiences of Surfer Girls

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Fendt, LS, Wilson, E, Jenkins, J, Dimmock, K & Weeks, P 2014, 'Presenting phenomenology: faithfully recreating the lived experiences of Surfer Girls', Annals of Leisure Research, vol. 17, no. 4, pp. 398-416.

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Phenomenology offers an appropriate philosophical orientation to investigate people's lived experiences. It is an approach that is now widely acknowledged and applied in the social sciences. Despite its increasing adaptation in diverse contexts, the use of phenomenology in leisure studies remains limited and presents many conceptual, theoretical and applied challenges to researchers. A significant challenge is presenting research findings in ways that faithfully present people's experiences. This paper provides reflexive insights into Laura's (the lead author's) attempts as a current Ph.D. candidate to embrace Heideggerian phenomenology to investigate the experiences of being a surfer. The paper is derived from Laura's thesis process, where she took part in 37 unstructured conversations with women surfers (‘Surfer Girls’), and incorporated her own experiences as a woman surfer into the study. In her thesis, Laura presents her findings in the form of ‘postcards’ to promote women surfer's individuality, and to make their words come to life. Text, visual and other aids are incorporated in ways that enrich the written word, and that set a ‘surfing scene’ and create a surfing life-world for the reader. This paper examines and explains the importance of integrating phenomenological method and analysis to give faithful voice to people's lived experiences, and suggests tools for presenting phenomenological findings. Finally, this paper justifies and promotes the use of phenomenology as an under-utilized means of deepening our understandings of people's leisure experiences.

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