Method Workshop - Preparation for Poland Project


In the May and June of 2013, a group of four students (two students with a Spanish background and two with a German background) took part in a brief project to further develop the phenomenological and hermeneutical methods for use in a larger project that was already in the planning (the Poland Project). The area of application in this particular project was Spanish-German intercultural communication with an interest in disclosing some essential  - and especially incongruent - cognitive schemas underlying the interpretation of gestures and facial expressions.

The workshop was very productive in helping to produce a list of core texts from esp. Husserl, Heidegger and Gadamer that should be read by students interested in employing phenomenological and hermeneutical methods in areas where introspective research. These texts were made available to the participants in the Poland Project.


Methodologically, the Epoché was seen as a step that was fairly easy to implement and seemed rather helpful as a tool to foster introspection. But the eidetic reduction - the grasping of essential cognitive schemas - remained beyond our reach. This was certainly due in part to time constrains: the meetings took place during the spring semester, and we therefore could only meet sporadically and somewhat infrequently. The lack of time made especially the hermeneutical analysis very difficult, for the process of delineating the meaning of any given gesture in the context of the role plays is very time consuming.


 The young man's eyes were closed here briefly: A physical response brought about by mental fatigue? A facial expression signaling boredom? An act done consciously to foster mental concentration and signaling mental engagement?


Here a young lady takes a sip of water. A series of movements taken to reduce the biological need for fluids, or was she signaling bordom or frustration?

The time was too short even to establish when some movements should be seen as gestures/facial expressions or not. Furthermore, questions concerning the meaning (intended, perceived, etc.) of specific gestures and facial expressions could not be answered satisfactorily. However, it became clear that one problem apart from the lack of time was which hindered especially the hermeneutical analysis was the absence of a written protocol of the individual phenomenological analyses, for the participants had to rely too much on memory when doing the hermeneutical analysis. The temporal problems and the issues centering on the lack of a written protocol were to be directly addressed in the next project, scheduled for early 2014 with Polish students.