To have a meaningful moment of everyday life means to "have a situation that causes the researcher... to stop and wonder" (Brinkmann, 2012, p. 12).
Qualitative inquiry is "a vital human activity that all living human beings are engaged in....that emphasise[s] the idea that being alive as a human being should be conceived as an interpretive process of inquiry" (p. 15). Ferguson (2009, p. 164) defines everyday life as "a host of routine activities, private and public, carried out on a regular, if not actually daily, basis; such as eating, sleeping, working, commuting, shopping and so on."
"everyday life is our paramount reality" (p. 17).
"Everyday life is everywhere, and we live through it like fish proverbially live in the water" (p. 17).
Everyday life may be defined relative to the everyday life of somebody [Dasein] and whatever it is that mediates this person's activities and experiences. Therefore the objects in the world of this person are everyday life objects that somebody appropriates and uses in daily living. The situations and events somebody finds themselves involved in through daily living are everyday life events.
Everyday life isn't "what is left over when we have looked at important institutions such as work, education and health care, but everyday life is rather the zone where acting persons conduct or lead their lives" (p. 17, citing Dreier, 2008).
What are some shared features of everyday life studies?
1. Researcher is participant and not a spectator.
2. Focused broadly on human experience.
3. Everyday life studies demand theoretical and conceptual audacity. (Maffesoli, 1989)
"Qualitative research consists of a set of interpretive, material practices that make the world visible. These practices transform the world. They turn the world into a series of representations, including fieldnotes, interviews, conversations, photographs, recordings, and memos to the self" (Denzin & Lincoln, 2011, p. 3).
"When we study how actions are related to other actions, and how an individual action is part of a historical practice of carrying out that action, we are seeking to understand relations of meaning.... [W]e are rather trying to understand how a certain action makes sense to the people involved, what constitutes the conditions for it being performed, and how the action may be related to other ensuing actions and events" (Brinkmann, 2012, p. 21).
Qualitative researchers often "strive to understand human life 'from the inside', i.e., from inside the local practices where life is led, rather than 'from the outside' at a distance through objectifying methods" (p. 21). Everyday life research "deals with an aspect of human existence that is pervasive in everyday life" (p. 26).
"[F]rom an everyday life perspective, even the most dull objects and routine activities have the potential to teach us important things about our cultural worlds" (p. 27).
Researching everyday life calls for the researcher to "take a step back" (reduction). "It consists of producing a critical distance between the reader (or researcher) and the text (object or event) so that one becomes able to pose the question: 'what collections of relationships and theories of self must obtain for this material to make sense?' " (p. 28, quoting Parker, 1996, p. 190).
Everyday life is an embodied practice that's "creative, pregnant with possibilities, but nonetheless located within particular networks of power/knowledge" (Latham, 2003, p. 1994).
There's "three crucial elements that any accounts of everyday life must contain if they are to be plausible and interesting" (p. 1998).
- They contain an element of respect for the background social practices through which everyday life unfolds. This requires a realization that social practice differs from customary academic and intellectual ways of being in the world.
- They contain an element of understanding "that practices ...are shot through with creativity and possibility (even though these are 'constrained' and limited by existing networks of association)" (p. 1998).
- The contain an element of recognition that everyday life is not distinctly individuated or separate from the public sphere, political life, or even the exotic. "Rather, what needs to be recognised is how all elements of social life, all institutions, all forms of practice are in fact tied together with the work of getting on from day-to-day" (p. 1998).