The phenomenological attitude, 'autistic' persons' inner lives and spirituality

Pelge, Hayrunisa (2020). The phenomenological attitude, 'autistic' persons' inner lives and spirituality. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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The aim of this study was to explore the inner lives of ‘autistic’ people and their meaning-making as individuals, as well as members of a family unit, over a lifespan. I had significant ethical dilemmas about my not being ‘autistic’ and worried about what I might project on to ‘autistic’ people. I therefore took up a reflexive standpoint, dialogued with my own spiritual / religious values as an Alevi and realised that phenomenology was a possible way to move forward in carrying out ethical research. I gradually became aware that I am a reflexive, embodied and non-embodied paradoxical, dynamic, mysterious self and this is my lens through which I view the world; this is what I also deem to be my phenomenological attitude. Therefore, my phenomenological attitude has informed each stage of this research and each chapter of this thesis. Hence, this study and thesis is research design oriented and focuses on how a researcher(s) can prepare for working with ‘autistic’ people and their families. Thus, forethought is at the forefront of this study.
The methods process(es) of this study involved my exercising a phenomenological attitude with the use of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) and the narratives of ‘autistic’ people so as to learn about their inner lives. I analysed ‘autistic’ people’s autobiographies in three stages. The first involved carrying out a pilot analysis of an autobiography. The second involved analysing three individuals’ autobiographies in-depth. The third stage involved analysing eight vignettes, from various authors, of experiences they had within the family context(s) over a lifespan. I was also able to create potential interview protocols from the analyses in stage three, which can be used for future research.
The findings and insights of this study are that (i) the approach and methods process(es) in itself is a finding, (ii) that the body and senses of ‘autistic’ people create and shape their meaning-making, and (iii) that a focus on, in, with and through the phenomenological attitude may enable us to gain deeper insights into ‘autistic’ persons’ ways of being as well as our own, leading to more sensitive and ethical research.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: School of Education
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education


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