Academic journal article Polish Sociological Review

How the University Organizational Culture Is Being Experienced? Phenomenological Studies of Experiencing the Here and Now of the Organization

Academic journal article Polish Sociological Review

How the University Organizational Culture Is Being Experienced? Phenomenological Studies of Experiencing the Here and Now of the Organization

Article excerpt


Our study was phenomenological in nature. The research goal was the "reconstruction of themes from students' accounts of their own impressions in regard to how students experience the University." The research question was as open as possible to avoid preconceptions and distortions of the experience and perception of daily life in an organization.

Phenomenological study concerns analyzing phenomena as they manifest themselves in the consciousness. Therefore, it is a turn to things-in-themselves (Husserl 1970). Consciousness has an intentional nature-we are always aware of something (Groenewald 2004: 4)-and investigating such consciousness will thus constitute the main goal of the research. Phenomenological research is about describing a phenomenon as accurately as possible, without being influenced by any a priori assumptions, as it should transparently reflect the facts. It is associated with the description of everyday life experiences people have (Groenewald 2004: 5). The point here is thus to gain the most in-depth understanding of the studied phenomenon not in light of some previously build theories, but as it appears in the participants' experience (Hycner 1985: 299-300). "Phenomenology is used to obtain knowledge about how we think and feel in the most direct ways. Its focus is what goes on within the person in an attempt to get to and describe lived experience in a language as free from the constructs of the intellect and society as possible" (Bentz and Shapiro 1998: 96).

Any object, event, situation or experience that a person can see, hear, touch, smell, taste, feel, intuit, know, understand, or live through is a legitimate topic for phenomenological investigation. There can be a phenomenology of light, of color, of architecture, of landscape, of place, of home, of travel, of seeing, of learning, of blindness, of jealousy, of change, of relationship, of friendship, of power, of economy, of sociability, and so forth. (Seamon 2000: 159)

Therefore, a phenomenology of organizations and management, where one studies substantial characteristics of organizing, power, leadership, organizational communication, control, surveillance, bureaucracy, organizational culture, et cetera, can also be imagined. This last phenomenon will be subject to study described in this paper.

The so-called phenomenological reduction (epoché), that is, bracketing our assumed conceptual frameworks that structure our perceptions and experiences, is essential in any phenomenological study (Rehorick & Bentz 2008: 11-12; Englander 2016). It is crucial to elicit essential characteristics of the phenomenon without using our epistemic and socialized filters. This method was proposed by Edmund Husserl ([1954] 1970). Evidently, bracketing our knowledge and assumptions does not mean denying the world, or even to doubt its existence. Study of a certain phenomenon (object) begins with describing its experience. There are two aspects of bracketing our knowledge. The first level of bracketing is to suspend what we have learned about the phenomenon from scientific studies, accepted theories, and other legitimated sources of knowledge. Next, one must bracket the notions about the phenomenon stemming from one's cultural milieu (Rehorick & Bentz 2008: 12). This knowledge is embedded in the language by typifications and cognitive constructs, which have been internalized and used by ourselves in naming people and objects (Schütz [1932] 1967; 1970). In this paper, these two aspects will be of utmost interest. We may observe some parallels between the epoché and the meditation on emptiness in Buddhism (Bentz and Shapiro 1998: 52; Depraz 2002; Simpson 2008: 61-62). Pragmatic approach to epoché can be characterized in three successive phases:

a. A phase of suspension of the habitual thought and judgment, the basic possibility of any change in the attention which the subject gives to his own experience and which represents a break with a "natural" or unexamined attitude;

b. …

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