Gauttier, Stéphanie, & Nicola Liberati (2020, November). Exploring the relation between Q-method and phenomenology: Designing conditions of instruction based on the phenomenological concepts of variation and horizons. Operant Subjectivity, 42, 33-57. (doi: 10.15133/j.os.2020.002) (Link:

Abstract: This paper investigates the relation between Q-method and phenomenology. The common characteristics of Q and phenomenology have been discussed by Q-methodologists, but these discussions have remained at an abstract level. They look at how Q is close to the aims of phenomenology but they provide little guidance on how to apply Q in a more phenomenological manner. As a result, phenomenology can easily become a mere label rather than a mode of enquiry. This can lead to overlooking important aspects when elaborating research designs for Q-studies. It also leads phenomenologists to discard Q as a tool to achieve their goals. The contribution of this paper lies not only in linking the purpose of Q to phenomenology but also in the identification of elements that can be manipulated by the researcher when designing a Q- study, to collect and analyze Q-data in a phenomenological way. We suggest that the tools used by phenomenologists, specifically variations, can be applied in Q to improve the quality of the data collected. A framework to identify variations based on the different horizons described in phenomenology is proposed. An exemplary case illustrates this proposition.

Stéphanie Gauttier <> is in the Grenoble École de Management, Grenoble, France. Nicola Liberati <> is in the Department of Philosophy, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China.