Whose Tales Have I Told? The Social Construction of Lived Experience within Sport.
The objective of this study was to explore participants’ lived experiences of goal commitment in sport, and thus to identify the essence of ‘being’ as represented by participants’ language during interviews. To achieve this objective I drew upon interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA: e.g. Smith & Osborn, 2003). However, during analysis of the interview transcripts I was struck by the feeling that ‘things-were-happening’ in the text that I had not accounted for. Specifically, some of the participants seemed to have oriented their tales toward my line of questioning. Along these lines, Flowers et al. (1999) highlighted that researchers must be conscious of participants’ potential motivations with regard to self-presentation (e.g. appearing to be goal committed). Moreover, given the recent focus upon the role of language within shaping individual experiences, researchers can no longer expect to capture lived experience directly. Such experience, it is argued, is created within the social interaction of the interview (Potter & Hepburn, 2005) and within the social text produced by the researcher (Denzin & Lincoln, 2003A; Sparkes, 2002). Troubled by such arguments I began to consider additional methods of data analysis and subsequently, in growing recognition that lived experience might be socially constructed during interviews, incorporated elements of discursive analysis. Therefore, whilst the research process had come to represent an ‘epistemological time-line’ this had not been an a-priori consideration. Consequently, these developments highlighted an important area for further study within sport, exercise, and physical activity contexts, whilst also identifying important implications for the manner in which research and consultancy is undertaken.