Analyzing lived experience of activity

By Béatrice Cahour, Pascal Salembier, Moustafa Zouinar


Analysis of activity usually deals with various aspects of how workers accomplish their tasks in work settings, and how people use and interact with artefacts in their everyday lives. In recent years, growing interest has focused on lived or subjective experience in ergonomics and Human-Computer Interaction. Few studies have focused so far, however, on the relationships between subjective experience and activity. In addition, the links between these two concepts are not very clear, especially as the meaning of subjective experience is often not well understood. It is therefore proposed in this paper to address these issues by investigating the links between lived experience, taking a phenomenological approach, and activity. Subjective experience of an activity is defined here as the stream of actions, emotions, thoughts and perceptual sensations generated while performing an activity, which the subject is or can be made aware of. Based on this definition, we describe and discuss some methods (self-confrontation and explicitation interviews) which seem to be particularly relevant for documenting subjective experience, and show how detailed analyses of subjective experience can yield new insights which help to understand the activity in question more clearly.


  • Subjective/lived experience
  • activity
  • subjectivity
  • phenomenology
  • re-situating interviews
  • self-confrontation and explicitation interviews
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