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Vol. 6 No. 2 (2023): Phenomenology and Critique

From Description to Transformation: A Deconstructivist Investigation of a Phenomenological Method

December 31, 2023


In this paper, I investigate whether phenomenological description can help in transforming an unjust or violent situation. If one can agree that describing the situation of a group of marginalised subjects is necessary in order to define what is going wrong, then the question of whether the method can help change these states, remains unanswered. With this in mind, I then suggest that phenomenological description can only serve critical causes, under the condition that it takes the transformative power of language into account: by describing our experiences we already transform them. To this end, I draw on deconstructivist approaches, which focus on language as a social act of addressing oneself to others. I conclude by arguing that description can itself be a transformative tool – if we stress how it takes place under conditions of address that necessarily shape the experience to be described.