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Hermeneutic Phenomenology: Qualitative Research

The hermeneutic phenomenology derives ontological assumption constructing the purport within the subject with the limit in the face of historical perspective. The entry to the social world is obtained through giving meaning to the actions one does along with the actions others do. The ontological outlook implies no independent or impartial process of the truth setting up and engages certain epistemological structures containing knowledge definition and the phenomena itself. All the purports and ideas generated of these experiences are of social framework origin.

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Human action is equivocal and complex of its nature. And the observer cannot actually describe the event or activity taking place, for the observer cannot estimate the real state of affairs, furthermore, people themselves often do not comprehend the situation taking place. And, as the conclusion to the stated above, any action insulated from the context is likely to be ambiguous to the point of incomprehensibility. Despite equivocality, the hermeneutic paradigm explains, any observer has a preliminary comprehending of what the people think to do.

On the basis of Martin Packers “Hermeneutic inquiry in the study of human conduct”, lets find similarities and dissimilarities between epistemological assumptions of hermeneutic phenomenology and epistemological assumption of empiricism. As long as the assumption of the study object nature is discussed, it will be seen the epistemological assumptions of hermeneutic phenomenology differs much from the epistemological assumptions of empiricism. The hermeneutic phenomenology inquiry is neither an automatic process concerning the forces nor a theoretical one concerning relations. Unlike the hermeneutic phenomenology inquiry, the empiricism object of study is of physical nature. The basic view of assumption is that the phenomena are of separable elements blending into each other, but can be found in isolation. Here comes the assumption regarding the relationship between the researcher and the object of inquiry: this assumption is also variable from case to case. In empiricism, it is to look to cover the laws, and the laws cannot be regarded as the logical rules, they are the statements delineating casual empirical contingencies. The general laws, presented as certain statements imply a presence of some primary circumstances.

As Packer cites Heidegger: “ Heidegger proposed that hermeneutic phenomenology is the method of investigation most appropriate to the study of human action” (Packer, 1985, p. 1082). Originally Hermeneutics used to be a set of techniques to interpret ancient written texts. And later on, it was generalized to be an approach to study human action. And the original purport of hermeneutics was later applied to treat human action as though it was of some textual structure. In this meaning, the difference of the hermeneutic from the two modern dominating paradigms, the rationalist and empirical, is laid.

This difference is firstly laid in the understanding of the object of enquiry of the hermeneutics. Rationalism is the approach comprising cognitive aspects with structuralism, whereas empiricism is structured with positive experimentalism and behaviourism.

Hermeneutic and the hermeneutic based approaches to knowledge are considered to be everyday human practical activities: every day working with tools, artefacts and cooperating with people. In other words, it engages no context elements, needing no interpretation, of everyday life. Practical activity should also be implement motivated. And here Packer exemplifies Heideggers involvement modes. These modes are the ready-to-hand, the unready-to-hand and the present-at-hand modes. They are distinct from each other, though somehow interdependent.

In contrast to hermeneutic, the empiricism paradigm is the one in which any knowledge is provided by “brute data” as per Packer. And these data are taken as they are needing no additional interpretation. The key constituent of the inquiry is free of theory data collection and is considered to be logically independent of theory and antecedent to it. At this time of day empiricism paradigm is looked upon as a passive one, rejected as a model of functioning of the organism, but still has some supporters underground. Computer-based human behaviour and thoughts models, for instance, are founded on the atomistic facts, “bits” of information, and knowledge is achieved by formal part of the process means.

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As noted above the hermeneutic ontology object of study much differs from the empiricism phenomenology. The object of study if empiricism is a physical system, operating through the dependence of cause and effect. In this assumption, the phenomena consist of isolable parts, which blend and fuse with each other though can be observed independently from each other. And these variable parts can be independently manipulated. On one hand, ones behaviour is a result of casual forces. Ones habits, traits or features of the character are assumed so that the resulting action is automatic and objectively determined. Any human act is looked upon as the cluster of automatic cooperation of the elements, settings properties and the person. Both the stimuli and the response are the issues to conceptualize the human world and the universe as the composition of independent constituents, free of interpretation elements that can be later contracted, combined, mixed and looked upon through logical rules of calculation, generation and inference.

In contrast to the empiricism object of enquiry, in the hermeneutic inquiry, the object of study is neither a mechanical system of forces, nor an abstract system of interrelations, but a semantic issue constituted of everyday activity. Now, what the hermeneutic observer’s study is peoples actual actions right now in time unlike the inner meaning of the process as per empiricism study. As Packer says: “What is unique to hermeneutics is the character that practical action is taken to have” (Packer, 1985, p. 1088).

Now important thing is to apply epistemological principles to their methodological implications. Hermeneutic phenomenology is today considered to be the best method of research. Hermeneutic phenomenology is attentive to both the philosophy of phenomenology and hermeneutics.

As the hermeneutic method produces a progressive description of the moment of social discourse the grounding of the interpretation of the ready-to-hand model of understanding is simply connected with the everyday practical action. As the understanding of other clients of social intercourse is out of training to obtain skills, so the purport of hermeneutic study is to be drawn to the point of the unready-to-hand model and access for thematic description. So the main point of the methodology of the hermeneutic epistemological principles is understanding of problematic points of the original statement or the action. As ones action is never comprehensive right now, so there is a need to correct and articulate this understanding.

Any hermeneutic enquiry is, to begin with, the preliminary acquiring of the issue of what is to be studied, of the question asked. The main goal here is to understand the underlying interpersonal action. Qualitative methodology is considered to be more appropriate, than a quantitative one, for it is more descriptive on the level of analysis to specify the client of research, the time and the usage. The methodology to be applied is grounded theory due to its qualitative and data collection entries. Furthermore, its revolutionary paradigm is concerned to be one of the best to research and develop the hypothesis. The usage of the grounded theory is defined for its minimum circumstances engineering interference with the clients lives and maximum real data collection in a real study context.

The question of the study is how an experience and a milieu cause a persons behaviour. The process is to be divided into two logical parts, which are collecting the data and analyzing the data on the basis of the ground theory in order to make a positive or negative conclusion. The first part of the experiment is to unfold different philosophic and social aspects of the clients. That is gradation on different social levels, clients belonging to various social strata, then the educational level, so that to estimate the participants educational level degree, and the clients outlook as one influencing a persons IQ, mental abilities and ones mind witticism.

The hermeneutic approach is sensitive to both intended and unintended covering of the issue. It also is tended to differentiate between intended and unintended motifs of action, because of many interrelated aspects, that ones intention in the intercourse is not always obtained as the result of the intercourse and misunderstanding from the part of another participant of the intercourse along with the ambiguity and unpredictability of the action.

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“Herein lies the strength of the grounded theory approach; that the categories developed to match the realities of those interviewed in that at each stage, as part of the analysis, the participants are involved in testing and verification both of the data and of the evolving theory. The extremely detailed and rigorous process of analysis, with constant recourse to comparison and checking, which is used to refine the constructs ensures ‘the match between scientific categories and participant reality’” (ODonghue&Punch, 2003, p. 11).

In-ground theory approach to the hermeneutic study the data collection and analysis process is very much tissued, which the continual process of comparison leading to the gradual development and constant improvement of theory grounded in the information collected is the case in.

In order to identify many possible categories and fracture the data, the following questions based on Glasers basic set of questions can be used in governing open coding:

  • What is being sampled groups, individuals, events, text?
  • What are these data a study of?
  • What is actually happening in the data?

After identifying the theoretical code, the work on explaining the relations of the substantive codes is to be done. It is to be done in order to modify the theory data in line with the further contributions from different sources and to make them fit the experienced reality of the clients.

As the data for the study comes from a large variety of sources, under the comparative method of analysis and theoretical requirements sampling guidance, the obtained data is to be structured into some level, say: primary, those obtained from the clients of the study; secondary, coming from the professional literature and information on the people relations and tertiary, that can be used to elaborate, refine and improve the theory.

The data collecting of the primary organization can be both structured and semi-structured interviews. The participants are divided into several groups to attain social intercourse through taking part in discussing certain topics arisen in the process of the experiment. The clients here are required to take part in discussing certain issues, say nowadays vital problems or, getting married for instance, some news along with the making their daily activity. The next step is analyzing the data collected so that to come to the codes and concepts of the study. In this stage of the study, the cluster of techniques used to collect the data is very important. Then the data collected is to be structured according to the grounded theory used. To start the research the key collecting data should be gained in order to be further marked with the codes of the analysis. Then come the concepts of the collected codes through the hermeneutic inquiry. The concepts are here to be stated so that to make them more effectively be applied to the sampled group experience. The noted concepts then are to be derived into research categories on the basis of which the ground theory of the epistemological assumptions of hermeneutic phenomenology will be based.

The research previously described is highly motivated by the contribution to that area of the theory that is of psychological aspects of human relationships. And, as the experiment is to be conducted in order to further development of the field and the data gained is to be recorded, the research issues are valid and to be supported by the authorized organs. And as the study offers constructs that fit the observable behaviours and results in a much wider range of interpersonal interactions – including those in educational settings, the validity of the issues can probably positively affect the general and total results of the study. Moreover, the use of this approach is consistent with the intention to elicit data that would, as far as possible, be of no dependency on researchers preconceptions and hypotheses. That is why the participants are not to be put the questions on researchers hunches about what might be issued for the clients.

The research intercourse is intended to begin with not fully understanding and underestimation of the action and leads to articulating of the grounds of the clients of the research. Then, one of the main points is the modelling of the would-be unfolding of the study. And as the object of hermeneutic inquiry is dialogically open it is possible to return to the object of inquiry, again and again, each time increasing the understanding and interpretation.

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