This place we call home: A phenomenological narrative analysis of the lived experiences shared by boomtown natives and Basin locals in the Permian Basin of 2020

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2022-05

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Abstract

This study shows the ways narratives interact with the conditions of a constantly changing situation in the West Texas Permian Basin during the 2020 COVID pandemic. Insight, understanding, and finding meaning in relation to a specific time and place were primary research goals. Using a series of interviews with a total of six Permian Basin residents, this study strives to find insight, increase understanding, and find meaning in the shared stories about their lived experiences. Instability, contradictions, and chaos inherent in the life of 2020 Permian Basin residents are embraced as an integral part of life and identity, a tool for self-reflection, interpretation, and framing of how circumstances impact their lives. In consideration of connecting our phenomenological narrative to technical communication and rhetoric, this project has the potential to help bridge the disconnect between data and stories, between numbers and human lives. The experience guided the process, and the need for fluidity and flexibility were essential to the research process, just as the need for fluidity and flexibility were and are essential to survival in the Permian Basin, particularly during pandemic times. Memories shared by participant-storytellers revealed commonplaces - general, specific, and areas that can possibly exist in both areas. By considering the overall impact of the lived experiences of Basin residents, we have a vantage point to help make sense of a situation, to challenge assumptions, to make decisions for the future, and gain understanding and insight into how the past and present impact the future.

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Phenomenological Analysis, Narrative Study, Commonplace, Permian Basin, Petroleum Industry, West Texas

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