Researching "experience": embodiment, methodology, process

Steven D. Brown, John Cromby, David J. Harper, Katherine Johnson, Paula Reavey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, we explore some of the tensions involved in the process of engaging with embodiment research. Although a significant volume of discursive work on “the body” and its role in social relations now exists, there is little in the way of empirical research that moves the focus away from discourse alone to concentrate on other modalities, such as embodied feelings, sensations, and engagements with the world. We begin by briefly reviewing the turn to embodiment across the social sciences and the manner in which this has been taken up in psychology. We then outline our attempts as a research collective to develop methodologies and research activities that can produce meaningful data on embodied experience. The outcomes of one of these tasks are then described in detail, along with reflections on the difficulties and limitations that emerged. Finally, we attempt to conceptualize the challenge of researching embodiment by returning to the late 19th century psychology of John Dewey, which, we argue, neatly summarizes some of the problems to be addressed by any researchers engaged in the “turn to the body.”
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-515
Number of pages23
JournalTheory & Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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