Phenomenology of Practice in full colour

Felicity and I are deeply grateful for Professor Michael van Manen’s seminar yesterday. Prior organisation was a little stilted by email, and the announcement somewhat belated. Nevertheless, we were encouraged by the turnout, a respectful group of almost 50 tuned in. Michael gracefully took us through an illustrated tour of phenomenology of practice, with reference to the ‘Classic Writings’ book and his own research related to his work as a neonatologist.

Professor van Manen presenting

Michael kindly allowed us to record the presentation although his use of many evocative images makes it impossible to share very widely. If you would like to view, please get in touch with us using the info@hanfod.NL email address.

Here are references shared in the seminar:

Networked Learning Editorial Collective (NLEC) et al. 2021. Networked Learning in 2021: A Community Definition. Postdigital Science and Education 3(2), pp. 326–369. doi: 10.1007/s42438-021-00222-y.

van Manen, Max 2016. Researching lived experience: human science for an action sensitive pedagogy. Second Edition. London New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.

van Manen, Michael 2012. Carrying: Parental Experience of the Hospital Transfer of Their Baby. Qualitative Health Research 22(2), pp. 199–211. doi: 10.1177/1049732311420447.

van Manen, Michael 2018. Phenomenology of the Newborn: Life from Womb to World. 1st edition. New York: Routledge.

van Manen, Michael and van Manen, Max 2021. Classic writings for a phenomenology of practice. New York: Routledge. Available at: [link to CU Library record]

I stopped recording at the start of the question/discussion part to help everyone feel less inhibited. I have anonymised and reproduced the four questions and answers here though:

Continue reading “Phenomenology of Practice in full colour”

hanfod.NL on the road – BSP in Exeter!

The Senior Common Room at Exeter Queens Building where the hanfod.NL banner had its 2nd outing

Congratulations to the teams (BSP & Exeter) on a brilliant event! It was a great privilege and pleasure to attend in-person after sampling online in 2020. I was a bit embarrassed to be thanked for chairing the methods session yesterday, when the hosts were all over it. I merely did a bit of sentence strangling, to allow a couple more questioners their say. Even that was made far easier by Zoe Waters who anchored the session.

Exeter Quay

I went to Exeter with few expectations but a fair bit of dread, and kept reminding myself of why I was going: literally fly the flag for hanfod.NL But fainter hopes were more than realised. It was so helpful to be exposed to a range of current scholars deploying a wide breadth of phenomenological ideas in a variety of ways. There were certainly opportunities to break the brain on thoroughgoing philosophy but also a range of ‘engaged’ papers. Even the read-out and zoom-streamed philosophy papers were more accessible at a conference. In her NLC2020 keynote, Prof Lesley Gourlay (sadly not at BSPAC2022 – one day Lesley 😉 raised the eventedness of lectures as special, and, if we aim for everything to be recorded, because we can, we risk consigning the arguably richer embodied congeniality of events to channel conducive, generative scholarly activity. At Cardiff’s graduation events, I missed the ceremonial announcement that we were ‘having a congregation’. When we concur to devote time and space of our short lives in these ways, it matters and the in-between chatter matters. In one conversation we reflected on how the pressure to raise production values messes with the messiness of exploring ideas, plainly admitting we do not have all the answers cuts against demands to be slick.

Exeter Cathedral in the sun, community café in shade

I don’t claim much depth to my phenomenology yet I was able to keep pace with many of the papers. Without mentioning names, someone in the methods session criticised the inherent reductivism in published frameworks that aim to help novice phenomenologists. Of course, such frameworks can be helpful, and this is especially the case where a ‘loose coupling’ leaves the researcher with guiding stars, rather than a prescriptive routine that squeezes out opportunities for developing reflexivity. Students can be in too much of a rush and instrumentalise the method instead of understanding it and their place in it. Phenomenology is beyond understanding for the best of us anyway… And yet, Max van Manen’s phenomenology of practice, not mentioned this week, does, for me, hit a sweet spot of impelling one to push for deeper grounding into the heart of phenomenology while laying out the parts in sufficient detail to avoid getting completely lost. Max was busy on a new edition of his 2014 book, so we were thrilled that his son, Michael van Manen, who did get a mention this week, agreed to present for us on the 14th (see previous blog post). I was not there to present a paper, at least I was able to encourage a few scholars even newer to phenomenology than I am: I was able to point to the place of oft dreaded canonical writers, drawing from Max van Manen’s framing them as ‘insight cultivators’. It’s not how much you cover, but how inspiring a sentence can be for analysis. With that in mind, I’ve set off on a 2-page per day odyssey with Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception. I’ve always believed in the importance of reading beyond oneself but MP seems harder than Gadamer! I will find my feet again in the Preface, which is more than enough to stretch the mind.

Statue of Floella Benjamin, famed Chancellor (not least for hugging graduating students rather than doffing or handshaking!

Back to the conference, another draw for me, and hanfod.NL interests, was that Dr Lucy Osler was presenting. One of her aims was to seek another way out of the dichotomy between technological optimism/pessimism and online/in-person sociality. A brilliant talk, there were clear links with the recent symposium papers and great potential for cultivation of insight!

Lucy Osler beaming in from Copenhagen on the first day of her lectureship at Cardiff! Just outside is the well greased elbow of Matt Barnard, indefatigable in his support of the event – big thanks to him!

Webinar 14 Sept 22, 2pm (UK): Michael van Manen

We are thrilled to announce a webinar featuring Michael van Manen (University of Alberta profile page). Endowed Chair in Health Ethics, Michael is the Director of the John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre, and an Associate Professor in the Department of Paediatrics.

Michael van Manen

In just over three weeks time, on 14th September, Michael has very kindly agreed to rise early to help us understand phenomenology of practice from his perspective as a neonatologist (see webinar abstract below). We have scheduled 60 minutes for the presentation, leaving 30 more for questions and discussion.

Image: DrParthShah, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Among other notable contributions, Michael recently collaborated with his father, Max, to publish Classic Writings for a Phenomenology of Practice. This is an important work to support and demonstrate the heritage of the Phenomenology of Practice approach, also documented in the 2021 paper Doing Phenomenological Research and Writing.

A link to Michael’s recent discussion of Medical Ethics is offered below.

Webinar Abstract: Phenomenology of Practice: Ethics, Phenomenology, Value
What does it mean to do phenomenology directly on the phenomena that we live?

What distinguishes phenomenology as a method compared to other human science traditions?

How may phenomenology offer relevance and value to professional practitioners such as teachers, nurses, doctors, social workers, or other caring professions?

Phenomenology does not have to be an impenetrable philosophy but instead may be realized as a method to sensitively explore and explicate everyday human experiences.

Such understandings offer insights into the everyday ethics implicit in the practices of practitioners.

In this talk, I will discuss the tradition of phenomenology of practice, and the intersections of ethics, phenomenology, value, and technology at the hand of several health research projects. I hope to show the value of phenomenology for practice and also the value of practice for phenomenology.

We do hope you will join us on the day. Please email for the Zoom joining link or download this ics calendar file. We hope to record the session so you can catch up if you are unable to attend online.

Introducing daisychain recordings with our first, by Greta

Daisy image CC by Kelbv on Flickr
A single daisy for our first recording in the daisy chain series – image CC Kelbv

To herald the Networked Learning Conference in May, we aim to release short audio reflections, linking with our symposium, and possibly each other’s recordings. Practically, we have in mind those who are curious about exploring networked learning and phenomenology, with the hope of inspiring more people to join in. However, part of the reason is that we just can’t keep quiet for long! – it must be admitted that there is an element of self-indulgent enthusiasm behind this mini-project 🌞

We love metaphors: daisy-chains are delicate, free, and carry a universal, humble beauty. They are often made in a shared between-time, and bestowed as a happy love gift in-person. We hope for you it is the thought that counts. When, as in the COVID-19 pandemic, mitsein (being-with, after Heidegger) may be in short supply, it behoves us, as we can, to humanise interactions and mitigate alienation. We hope hearing our voices will help you to connect more richly with us and the ideas we present. The voice alone is not video, but, as McLuhanesque hot media, may be all the more intriguing for that.

We are beyond delighted that Dr Greta Goetz, University of Belgrade, agreed to start us off. As one might expect, given her 2021 PDSE article, the recording is a singular work of scholarship in its own right, weaving many redolent ideas from her deep engagement with phenomenology. Mike (2008, p330) has styled information technology as ‘a chain of weak links’, which is also a feature of daisy chains, so we invite you to take advantage of the recording while it, the transcript and references, are still available. Honouring Greta’s authorship, the 11 minute recording is to be found on Greta’s site using this link.


Goetz, G. (2021). The Odyssey of Pedagogies of Technoscientific Literacies. Postdigital Science and Education, 3(2), 520–545.

Johnson, M. R. (2008). Investigating & encouraging student nurses’ ICT engagement. In T. T. Kidd & I. Chen (Eds.), Social Information Technology: Connecting Society and Cultural Issues (pp. 313–335). Information Science Reference.

McLuhan, M. (2001). Understanding media: The extensions of man. Routledge.