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Examining Researchers’ Pre-Understandings as a Part of the Reflexive Journey in Hermeneutic Research

Maxwell, C, Ramsayer, B, Hanlon, C, McKendrick, J and Fleming, V (2020) Examining Researchers’ Pre-Understandings as a Part of the Reflexive Journey in Hermeneutic Research. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 19. ISSN 1609-4069

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This article considers one of the philosophical sources of reflexivity, the concept of “pre-understandings” as envisaged by the German philosopher, Hans Georg Gadamer. There are a number of empirical research studies employing a Gadamerian approach, and while some authors may describe methods of examining pre-understandings and applying findings reflexively to hermeneutic enquiry, there remains a general lack of sufficient detail given over to the “how” in relation to this process. Furthermore, Gadamer describes how the “provoking” of one’s pre-understandings is required in order to make them realizable and this is rarely evident within authors’ work. As part of a hermeneutic research project exploring health professionals’ views of conscientious objection to abortion, we as a research team undertook a process of “provoking” our pre-understandings surrounding conscientious objection to abortion. This was undertaken by a preliminary discussion to examine our preunderstandings. A second discussion followed to examine if and how our pre-understandings had altered, and was conducted after the research team had read five transcribed interviews from a study on health care professionals’ perspectives of conscientious objection to abortion. By reviewing our pre-understandings, we were able to begin to make conscious what was unconscious, widening some of our initial views, being more definitive in others and in some cases endorsing our original pre-understandings. Using a reflexive process, we assimilated these findings with our research project and used it to inform our data collection, analysis and interpretation, demonstrating the application of rigor to our hermeneutic study.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 1110 Nursing, 1607 Social Work
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
L Education > LC Special aspects of education > LC5201 Education extension. Adult education. Continuing education
Q Science > Q Science (General)
Divisions: Nursing & Allied Health
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Date Deposited: 06 Jan 2021 13:55
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2021 06:11
DOI or ID number: 10.1177/1609406920985718
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/14224
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