Demystifying a Hermeneutic Approach to IS Research

Phyl Webb, Carol Pollard


While hermeneutics is firmly embedded in social science research and has proven merit as a qualitative research philosophy and data analysis technique, the majority of IS researchers continue to be hermeneutic neophytes. This paper seeks to promote and demystify this valuable but challenging tool, exploring the evolution of hermeneutics and its different approaches, presenting a brief overview of previous IS hermeneutic research, as reported in the literature and describing the applicability of hermeneutics to qualitative IS research In illustration, and in an attempt to smooth the way for other novice “hermeneuts”, it presents the choice and application of one hermeneutic approach based on the work of Ricoeur and Gadamer, in a research in progress. The paper concludes with a reflection on the value of the hermeneutic approach that was adopted in the research process and its contribution to IS research.


QualiIT; qualitative; hermenutics; philosophy; Ricoeur; Gadamer

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ISSN: Online: 1326-2238 Hard copy: 1449-8618
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