Lived experience

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In qualitative phenomenological research, lived experience refers to a representation of the experiences and choices of a given person, and the knowledge that they gain from these experiences and choices.[1][2] It is a category of qualitative research together with those that focus on society and culture and those that focus on language and communication.[3]

In the philosophy of Wilhelm Dilthey, the human sciences are based on lived experience, which makes them fundamentally different from the natural sciences, which are considered to be based on scientific experiences.[4] The concept can also be approached from the view that since every experience has both objective and subjective components, it is important for a researcher to understand all aspects of it.[5]

In phenomenological research, lived experiences are the main object of study,[6] but the goal of such research is not to understand individuals' lived experiences as facts, but to determine the understandable meaning of such experiences.[7][8] In addition lived experience is not about reflecting on an experience while living through it but is recollective, where experience is reflected on after it has passed or lived through.[9]

The term dates back to the 19th century, but its use has increased greatly in recent decades.[10] The concept has been criticised as solipsistic and redundant.[11]


  1. ^ Given, Lisa, ed. (2008). "Lived Experience". The SAGE Encyclopedia of Qualitative Research Methods. SAGE Publications. Retrieved 2018-04-02.
  2. ^ Chandler, Daniel; Munday, Rod (2011). "Lived experience". A Dictionary of Media and Communication. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acref/9780199568758.001.0001. ISBN 9780199568758. Retrieved 2018-04-02.
  3. ^ Marshall, Catherine; Rossman, Gretchen B. (2011). Designing Qualitative Research, Fifth Edition. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE. p. 92. ISBN 9781412970440.
  4. ^ Bunnin, Nicholas, ed. (2004). "Lived experience". The Blackwell Dictionary of Western Philosophy. Blackwell Publishing.
  5. ^ Lichtman, Marilyn (2010). Qualitative Research in Education: A User's Guide. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE. p. 79. ISBN 9781412970525.
  6. ^ Manen, Max van (2016-06-16). Researching Lived Experience, Second Edition: Human Science for an Action Sensitive Pedagogy. Routledge. p. 9. ISBN 9781315421049.
  7. ^ "Phenomenological Research Guidelines". Capilano University. Retrieved 2018-04-02.
  8. ^ Lindseth, Anders; Norberg, Astrid (2004-06-01). "A phenomenological hermeneutical method for researching lived experience". Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences. 18 (2): 145–153. doi:10.1111/j.1471-6712.2004.00258.x. ISSN 1471-6712. PMID 15147477.
  9. ^ Marshall, Catherine; Rossman, Gretchen B. (2011). Designing Qualitative Research. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE. pp. 104. ISBN 978-0761919711.
  10. ^ "The Grammarphobia Blog: The life of a lived experience". Grammarphobia. 2021-12-10. Retrieved 2022-07-31.
  11. ^[bare URL]