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Phenomenology Glossary

The steps in Phenomenlogical Reduction

To summarize, the steps of Phenomenological Reduction include: Bracketing, in which the focus of the research is placed in brackets, everything else is set aside so that the entire research process is rooted solely on the topic and question; horizonalizing, every statement initially is treated as having equal value. Later, statements irrelevant to the topic and question as well as those that are repetitive or overlapping are deleted, leaving only the Horizons (the textural meanings and invariant constituents of the phenomenon); Clustering the Horizons Into Themes; and Organizing the Horizons and Themes Into a Coherent Textural Description of the phenomenon.

From Moustakas, C. (1994) Phenomenological Research Methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, p. 97

Horizonalization (or Horizontalization)

Another dimension of Phenomenological Reduction is the process of horizonalization. Horizons are unlimited. We can never exhaust completely our experience of things no matter how many times we reconsider them or view them. A new horizon arises each time that one recedes. It is a never-ending process and, though we may reach a stopping point and discontinue our perception of something, the possibility for discovery is unlimited. The horizonal makes of conscious experience a continuing mystery, one that opens regions of laughter and hope or pain and anguish as these enter our conscious life. We may think that some perception of experience will forever remain, but the contents of conscious life appear and disappear. No horizon lasts indefinitely, regardless of wish, hope, or fear.

In Phenomenological Reduction we return to the self; we experience things that exist in the world from the vantage point of self-awareness, self-reflection, and self-knowledge. Things enter conscious awareness and recede only to return again. Something essential is recovered: "The phenomenological reductions make it possible for the mind to discover its own nature; originally lost in the world, the mind can find itself again by means of these reductions" (Kockelmans, 1967, p. 222).

Each horizon as it comes into our conscious experience is the grounding or condition of the phenomenon that gives it a distinctive character. We consider each of the horizons and the textural qualities that enable us to understand an experience. When we horizonalize, each phenomenon has equal value as we seek to disclose its nature and essence. Keen (1975), for example, in exploring the horizons of a student's question felt uncomfortable "because 1 had the vague sense that he was begging for something" (p. 28). The "begging" sense was Keen's immediate, prereflective experience of his student. As he reflected on the begging phenomenon, he decided to avoid the student as he would "beggars on the street” (1975, p. 29). Keen exclaims:

I felt uncomfortable about his question [of whether he should become a psychologist] because I had the vague sense that he was begging me for something. That was an immediate and prereflective experience of him at that moment, and it is important to allow that experience to be what it was, to recall it and to articulate its content. Having done so, we need now to reflect on that experience. (1975, p. 28)

Keen continues, "It was horizonal to my experience of him as begging me for something. It is only by careful examining of my experience that these horizons became apparent” (1975, p. 29). On further reflection, Keen discovered that the student reminded him of his patients and also with youthful ambivalence toward elders, the student's relationship to his father, and a member of the dispossessed class coping with the privileged class, and finally that perhaps his student was asking for something he never got from his father-acceptance and respect (p. 31). These horizons were constituents of the phenomenon of "begging" in a relationship and provided a way of describing the bracketed phenome­non, "begging."


From Moustakas, C. (1994) Phenomenological Research Methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, pp. 95-96


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