Conducting Hermeneutic Research in International Settings: Philosophical, Practical, and Ethical Considerations

Charlene A. VanLeeuwen, Linyuan Guo-Brennan, Lori E. Weeks


Hermeneutics has been theorized and applied as a philosophical framework and interpretive research methodology which pays particular attention to linguistic, social, cultural, and historical contexts to understand the life world and human experiences. While adopted as a qualitative research approach in the fields of education, nursing, psychology, and legal studies, its use is emerging in other human service disciplines. The rich philosophical and theoretical legacy embedded in this research methodology often presents unique challenges and a steep learning curve for researchers, particularly when the research is conducted in international settings. Drawing from insights gained from two hermeneutic studies conducted in Kenya and China, this paper presents considerations for designing a hermeneutic research inquiry. In addition to philosophical, practical, and ethical issues researchers need to consider when designing and implementing hermeneutic studies in international settings, we examine factors and strategies to facilitate successful data collection and interpretation.  


hermeneutics; interpretive research methodology; international research

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