Qualitative modes of research have been working their way into the mainstream of psychological research. Unfortunately, social psychology has largely resisted this trend, despite the particular utility of qualitative research for investigating social phenomena. Curiously, as qualitative research becomes more widely accepted in psychology, much of the discourse surrounding these approaches has revolved around the procedural dimensions of qualitative inquiry. Specifically, it has focused on developing, describing, and defending various codified approaches to qualitative data analysis. Recently, this methodological paradigm has come under some criticism, with scholars critiquing codified methods as leading to shallow, superficial, and formulaic research. Others have noted that qualitative research requires a type of reasoning that does not fit well with codified methods. To analyze this latter point, this paper appeals to the hermeneutic philosophy of Hans-Georg Gadamer to identify the type of reasoning required by qualitative work (i.e., interpretive understanding) and show how this type of reasoning relates to codified methods. Through this analysis, it is shown that methods are unable to function as specific procedures or concrete rules in qualitative practice, and that there are substantive disadvantages in using them as general guidelines as well. An alternative mode of practice is described, focusing on the cultivation of hermeneutical imagination.
College and Department
Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Psychology
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Parker, Jared C., "Method and Interpretation: Gadamer and the Limits of Methods in Qualitative Research" (2022). Theses and Dissertations. 9692.
qualitative research, hermeneutics, Gadamer, methodology