book review Education Phenomenology Philosophy

Re-Discovering the Richness of Everyday Life

Over the past two years, I have created a series of videos based on the book, Qualitative Inquiry in Everyday Life by Svend Brinkmann. I posted the final part a few days ago. In this post, I want to discuss the book’s importance and who can benefit from it.

Why is this book important? First, it removes the boundary between “doing research” and living a human life. The book shows that so much of what we do in our daily lives, such as paying attention, being surprised, being puzzled, and making sense of things, are essential components of research. By removing the boundary, Brinkmann enriches both the domain of everyday life and the corresponding approach to social/psychological research.

Second, the book highlights the importance of theory in research. It makes a case for rationality (not rationalism). There is a tendency, even among academics, to assume that with empirical research, thinking is not required. This attitude doesn’t only destroy research; it also harms the human person–the thinking, rational, speaking, and political animal. It’s not only data that replaces thinking; even books on research methods are often used as substitutes for thought. Brinkmann shows the importance of thinking and reading thoughtfully, as opposed to reading to pick up rules.

Third, the book emphasizes the richness of everyday life. Our lives can be confusing, messy, and ambiguous, and rapidly changing. Qualitative research makes us sensitive to the richness of life. Brinkmann taps into the domains of leisure, popular culture, media, films and TV shows, books of fiction, and shows their potential for inquiry.

Who can benefit from this book? Two groups in particular would benefit from it. First are those who have a cursory interest in social/human sciences and want to pursue it more seriously. Second are those who are already in social/psychological science but feel alienated by it, or feel like what you’re doing in your research has no connection to your life, this book is worth reading.

For those who support my channel through Patreon, I have created 11 videos based on this book. The series is one of the best reviews I’ve done so far, since I started my YouTube channel and Patreon page. Because Brinkmann’s writing style is dry and maybe a little tedious at times, the videos might give you a more lighthearted and efficient overview of the book. In total, the videos are about 3 hours long, which is much shorter than the time it takes to read the whole book. In the videos, you’ll see my commentary interspersed with selected passages from the book.

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