Archive for February, 2009

Is hermeneutics reflexive or vice versa?

Posted on February 4, 2009. Filed under: Methods | Tags: , |

Now at the second stage referred to in last post – pasting quotes in a sequence that helps me see the structure of the argument but with me kind of out of the frame (not very reflexive at this stage).  Finding it hard to weave reflexivity and hermeneutics together, they share so much but open different doors. Decided to treat reflexivity as the overall approach with hermeneutics as the particular avenue.

Sorry, I should explain: reflexivity theory is rooted in the idea that the concept of ‘objective knowledge’ so beloved of science is nonsense. The observer creates or constructs the world they claim to observe, by framing and choosing and interpreting. Traditional newtonian science rests on the notion of an ‘out there’ measurable, stable universe; humanities are seen as too subjective to be valid by these standards.

Constructionism emphasised the role of the observer in creating the observed; social constructionism stresses the social context of the scientist and both call for reflexivity in both method and interpretation, so that the role of the researcher is visible to all, including their prejudices and assumptions (normally concealed) and that the methods allow for more equitable distribution of power between researcher and researched. These theories mostly apply to social sciences, with human participants or reciprocators.

As I’m using text, I’m turning to hermeneutics which looks at theories of understanding and interpretation and which places the human experience of text or other at the centre of research. Trouble is, it’s such a rich and complex field with so many philosophical debates and dilemmas and exponents, it’s hard to find a clear thread through. It could be that I don’t need so mch detail bt I find I can’t explain something if I don’t grasp it. So hard to know what to leave out or skim over.

Good news is that I ‘ve written enough papers to know I get through this stage, that all of this is necessary part of creative process – and this whole project feels so creative – including the sense that I may not have the skills to honour the initial vision. We’ll see.

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