Bracketing approach focuses on revealing the beliefs, ideas and values that are simply taken for granted in the social world.
By suspending belief in the naturalness and normality of the social world (placing what are normally automatic assumptions in brackets) bracketing reveals the underlying thinking and values that people bring to bear in understanding the world and engaging in social action.
This analysis then gives the researcher the information necessary to investigate the ordinary methods social members use to comprehend the social world and give it reality and concreteness.
"Bracketing," a term which reflects Husserl's initial training in mathematics. Such bracketing of the common sense, the 'natural attitude', implies that what is taken for granted or what is seen to be "out there" need not necessarily be so. This does not however indicate any denial of existence as yet or that we should forget all about the bracketed world. We are only required, at this stage to stop attaching weight to them (Spiegelberg 1971: 135).
Mapping the subtle theoretical and philosophical
underpinnings of bracketing will facilitate the identification and delineation of core
elements that compose bracketing, and also distinguish how different research approaches
prioritize different bracketing elements.
Bracketing in Research: A Typology
Current phenomenological techniques in sociology include the method of "bracketing" (Bentz 1995; Ihde 1977). This approach lifts an item under investigation from its meaning context in the common-sense world, with all judgments suspended. For example, the item "alcoholism as a disease" (Peele 1985; Truan 1993) is not evaluated within phenomenological brackets as being either true or false. Rather, a reduction is performed in which the item is assessed in terms of how it operates in consciousness: What does the disease notion do for those who define themselves within its domain? A phenomenological reduction both plummets to the essentials of the notion and ascertains its meanings independent of all particular occasions of its use. The reduction of a bracketed phenomenon is thus a technique to gain theoretical insight into the meaning of elements of consciousness. - Myron Orleans - hss.fullerton.edu/sociology/orleans/phenomenology.htm