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EDM6402 Qualitative Methods of Educational Research L ecture 2 The Phenomenology and Hermeneutics of Meanings: Approaches to Qualitative Research. In Search of the Meaning of Meanings in Educational Research. Phenomenology of meaning Hermeneutics of meaning.

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EDM6402Qualitative Methods of Educational ResearchLecture 2The Phenomenology and Hermeneutics of Meanings:Approaches to Qualitative Research

in search of the meaning of meanings in educational research
In Search of the Meaning of Meanings in Educational Research
  • Phenomenology of meaning
  • Hermeneutics of meaning
phenomenological investigation of meanings
Phenomenological Investigation of Meanings
  • What is phenomenology?
    • “The term ‘phenomenology’ is partly derived from the Greek word phainomenon (plural: phainomena). Phainmenon literally means ‘appearance’, that is, ‘that which shows itself’. Philosophers generally define ‘phenomena’ to mean ‘the appearances of things, as contrast with the things themselves.” (Spinelli, 2005, p. 6)
    • Immanuel Kant’s distinction between the ‘noumenon’ (i.e. the thing itself) and the phenomenon (i.e. the thing appears in our consciousness)
phenomenological investigation of meanings1
Phenomenological Investigation of Meanings
  • What is phenomenology?
    • Edmund Husserl, the founding figure of phenomenology, specifies that phenomenology is to study how we “conscious of” them, how they “appear”, and, in short, how things become “phenomena”. (Spinelli, 2005, 6; Smith, Flowers & Larkin, 2009, p. 12-13)

1859-1938

phenomenological investigation of meanings2
Phenomenological Investigation of Meanings
  • What is phenomenology?
    • In Husserl’s own words,

“Every experience can be subject to …reflection, as can indeed every manner in which we occupy ourselves with any real or ideal objects — for instance, thinking, or in the modes of feeling and will, valuing and striving. So when we are fully engaged in conscious activity, we focus exclusively on the specific things, thoughts, values, goals or means involved, but not on the psychical experience as such, in which these things are known as such. Only reflection reveals this to us. Through reflection, instead of grasping simply the matter straight-out — the values, goals, and instrumentalities — we grasp the corresponding subjective experience in which we become ‘conscious’ of them, in which (in the broadest sense) they ‘appear’. For this reason, they are called ‘phenomena’, and their most general essential character is to exist as the “consciousness-of’ of ‘appearance-of’ the specific things, thoughts, … plans, decisions, hopes, and so forth.” (Husserl, 1927; quoted from Smith, Flowers & Larkin, 2009, p. 12)

phenomenological investigation of meanings3
Phenomenological Investigation of Meanings
  • What is phenomenology?
    • In contrast to mode of inquiry in natural science, which emphasizes observations of and experimentation with things in the external world, phenomenology turns inwards to investigate human reflection, consciousness, and subjectivity; and poses the question of how a particular experience stands out (i.e. appears) to become so significant that we would grant them attention, intention and consciousness. In short, phenomenology is to study the meaning-construction process of human kind and therefore, it is one of the theoretical foundations of the human and cultural sciences, as well as of methodology of qualitative research.
phenomenological investigation of meanings4
Phenomenological Investigation of Meanings
  • Constituent concepts of phenomenology
    • Stream of consciousness and the concept of intentionality
      • Hernri Bergson, another the founding figures of phenomenology, stipulates that we humans are not only living within the world of discrete and concrete space and time, but also in the stream of consciousness. It is within this stream of consciousness that a man would grant his attention and intention to an object in reality (or ‘the world’) and elevate it to become a “phenomenon” within one’s subjectivity. And Husserl has labelled this fundamental inter-connection between consciousness and objects in reality the ‘intentioanlity’.
phenomenological investigation of meanings5
Phenomenological Investigation of Meanings
  • Constituent concepts of phenomenology
      • The concept of intentionality: “The term ‘intentionality’ is taken from the Latin intendere, which translates as ‘to stretch forth’.” It indicates the process of how the mind “stretching forth” into the world and “grasping” and “translating” an object into a phenomenon. (Spinelli, 2005, p.15)
      • The process of intentionality has been differentiated by Husserl into two components, namely noema and noesis.
        • The concept of noema (intentional-object) indicates the objects being intended to, conscious of and grasped, i.e. the what;
        • The concept of noesis (intentional-Act) refers to the act of intending, stretching forth and bringing to consciousness, i.e. the how.
phenomenological investigation of meanings6
Phenomenological Investigation of Meanings
  • Constituent concepts of phenomenology
    • Internal time consciousness (Durée)
      • Henri Bergson has coined the concept ‘durée’ to specify the inner stream of duration constituted within human consciousness. It refers to, as Husserl characterized, the types of experiences, that human minds would “transverse” (translate or transform) into “intentional unities”, within which “immanent time is constituted, …an authentic time in which there is duration, and alteration of that which endures.” (Husserl, 1964; quoted in Schutz, 1967, p. 46)
phenomenological investigation of meanings7
Phenomenological Investigation of Meanings
  • Concepts of perception, retention and reproduction

Husserl has given a precise description of the constituting process of this intentional unity of duration by differentiating it into (Schutz, 1967, p.47-49)

    • Perception: It refers to the “now-apprehension” granted to an experience by human minds during the immediate encounter.
    • Retention: It refers to the “primary remembrance” or “primary impression” of an experience formed within the “after-consciousness” of the encounter.
    • Reproduction: It refers to the “secondary remembrance or recollection” that emerges after primary remembrance is past. “We accomplish it either by simply laying hold of what is recollected … or we accomplish it in a real, re-productive, recapitulative memory in which the temporal object is again completely built up in a continuum of presentifications, so that we seem to perceive it again, but only seemingly, as-if.” (Husserl, 1964, quoted in Schutz, 1967, p. 48)
phenomenological investigation of meanings8
Phenomenological Investigation of Meanings
  • Constituent concepts of phenomenology
    • The concept of behavior: Meaning-endowing experiences

Husserl makes a distinction between two types of experiences “Experience of the first type are merely ‘undergone’ or ‘suffer’.’ They are characterized by a basic passivity. Experiences of the second type consist of attitudes taken toward experiences of the first type.” Husserl characterized those experiences endowed with ‘attitude-taking Act’ as ‘behavior’. Accordingly, “Behavior is a meaning-endowing experience of consciousness.” (Schutz, 1967, p. 56)

phenomenological investigation of meanings9
Phenomenological Investigation of Meanings
  • Constituent concepts of phenomenology
    • The concept of Action: Project

According to Schutz and Husserl, we can further distinguish behavior from action. The former are experiences endowed with attitudes, while the latter are experiences oriented towards the future. Most specifically, actions are experiences endowed with anticipation, which Husserl has characterized as “the meaning of what will be perceived.” (Husserl, 1931, quoted in Schutz, 1967, p. 58)

    • Furthermore, apart from anticipation of the future, actions are also experiences endowed with another form of intentionality, namely intention of fulfillment. More specifically, actions are not only made up of anticipated goals or “empty protention” to the future. They also consist of the parts of intentions to attaining those goals in the future.
phenomenological investigation of meanings10
Phenomenological Investigation of Meanings
  • Constituent concepts of phenomenology
    • The concept of Action: Project
    • In conclusion, according to Schutz formulation, an action is experiences endowed with meanings in the form of “a project”, which consists of anticipated goals and intentions and efforts to fulfill them.
phenomenological investigation of meanings11
Phenomenological Investigation of Meanings
  • Alfred Schutz phenomenology of meaning
    • Alfred Schutz’c concept of meaning

(1899-1959)

phenomenological investigation of meanings12
Phenomenological Investigation of Meanings
  • Alfred Schutz phenomenology of meaning
    • Alfred Schutz’c concept of meaning

Built upon his understanding of Husserl’s phenomenology, Schutz begins his own construction of The Phenomenology of Social World with the following definition of meaning

“Meaning is a certain way of directing one’s gaze at an item of one’s experience. This item is thus ‘selected out’ and rendered discrete by a reflexive Act. Meaning indicates, therefore, a peculiar attitude on the part of Ego toward the flow of its own duration.” (Schutz, 1967, p. 42)

phenomenological investigation of meanings13
Phenomenological Investigation of Meanings
  • Alfred Schutz phenomenology of meaning
    • Schutz concept of action

By relating the conceptual apparatus derived from phenomenological philosophy and Max Weber’s conception of interpretive sociology, Schutz defines the concept of action as follows

“Now we are in a position to state that what distinguishes action from behavior is that action is the execution of a projected act. And we can immediately proceed to our next step: the meaning of any action is its corresponding projected act. In saying this we are giving clarity to Max Weber’s vague concept of the ‘orientation of an action’. An action, we submit, is oriented toward its corresponding projected act.” (Schutz, 1967, p. 61)

phenomenological investigation of meanings14
Phenomenological Investigation of Meanings
  • Alfred Schutz phenomenology of meaning
    • Schutz’c concept of meaning-context
      • By applying the constituent concepts of phenomenology, Schutz suggests that meanings derived within one’s Ego are “configurated” into a whole, which Schutz called “meaning-context”. By meaning-context, Schutz characterized it as follows

“Let us define meaning-context formally: We say that our lived experience E1, E2, …, En, stand in a meaning-context if and only if, once they have been lived through in separate steps, they are then constituted into a synthesis of a high order, becoming thereby unified objects of monothetic attention.” (Schutz, 1967, p.75)

phenomenological investigation of meanings15
Phenomenological Investigation of Meanings
  • Alfred Schutz phenomenology of meaning
    • Schutz’c concept of meaning-context
      • Schutz indicates that meaning-context derived within one’s inner time consciousness bears numbers of structural features. (Schutz, 1967, p. 74-78)
        • Unity: Though intentional acts and/or fulfillment-act various meaning-endowing experiences are unified and integrated into coherent whole within the Ego. Hence, meaning-context generated from meaning-endowing experiences also bears the internal structure of unity and coherence.
        • Continuity: As lived experiences are set within the stream of consciousness of duration (i.e. Durée), therefore, the meaning-context thereby derived is internally structured into a continuity of temporal ordering.
phenomenological investigation of meanings16
Phenomenological Investigation of Meanings
  • Alfred Schutz phenomenology of meaning
    • Schutz’c concept of meaning-context
      • Schutz indicates that meaning-context derived within one’s inner time consciousness bears numbers of structural features. (Schutz, 1967, p. 74-78)
        • Hierarchy: Through her lived experiences in different spheres of the life-world, individual will congifurated various meaning-contexts for lived experiences in various spheres of life. And these complex meaning-contexts are structured in hierarchical order according to their degree of meaningfulness and significance.
phenomenological conceptual framework of meaning

Internal time consciousness

Durée

Phenomenological conceptual framework of meaning

Action

Anticipation & fulfillment

Meaning-context

of unity and continuity

Behavior

Attitude-taking Act

Hierarchy

Reproduction, Retention, Perception

Meaning-context

of unity and continuity

Stream of consciousness

Intentionality

Intentional

object

The

subject

Intentional-Act

phenomenological investigation of meanings17
Phenomenological Investigation of Meanings
  • Phenomenology of social meaning
    • As a practicing sociologist, Alfred Schutz’s major contribution to phenomenological studies is to extend the study of human consciousness and experiences from individual level to social level. Built on phenomenological investigations of meaning-configurations and meaning-contexts of individuals, Schutz poses the questions: How meaning-configurations among individuals are possible? More specifically, how meanings among different inner consciousnesses of durations are able to be corresponded, shared or even come to consensus? And how individual thinking and acting beings come to act harmoniously, concertedly and cooperatively into a social entity?
phenomenological investigation of meanings18
Phenomenological Investigation of Meanings
  • Phenomenology of social meaning
    • Schutz’s concepts of meaning-context of the social world
      • Schutz suggests that constructions of social meanings within a human aggregate are possible simply because members of a “society” shared common “lived” experiences generated from common temporal and spatial situations.
      • These common lived experiences have then been accumulated geographically, historically, verbally and textually into a “totality” of meaning-configuration and meaning-contexts, which we now called the culture or what Berger and Luckmann called symbolic universe.
phenomenological investigation of meanings19
Phenomenological Investigation of Meanings
  • Phenomenology of social meaning
    • Schutz’s concepts of meaning-context of the social world
      • Based on commonly-share culture, Schutz has differentiated the process of meaning-construction into three types
        • In Face-to-face relationship
        • In relationship with contemporaries
        • In relationship with predecessors
phenomenological investigation of meanings20
Phenomenological Investigation of Meanings
  • Phenomenology of social meaning
    • Social meaning construction in face-to-face relationship
      • The primary base of mutual understanding between two humans in face-to-face situation is that there are two inner consciousnesses of durations who share similar if not the same temporal-spatial flows, that is, each is conscious of the other’s presence. In short, each takes the other as intentional-object (noema) of her intentional-Act (noesis) and vice versa.
phenomenological investigation of meanings21
Phenomenological Investigation of Meanings
  • Social meaning construction in face-to-face relationship
    • Expressive movement and expressive act: They refer to non-verbal gestures (body movements) which indicate the “attitudinal-Act” of an individual implicates to an subjective experience which she undergoes. Schutz has further differentiates them into
      • Expressive movement: It refers to gestures which bears no communicative intention from the part of the initiator. As Schutz states “expressive movements … have meaning only for the observer, not for the person observed.” (Schutz, 1967, p. 117)
      • Expressive act: It refers to body movements “in which the actor seeks to project outward the content of his consciousness, whether to retain the latter for his own use later on (as in the case of an entry in a dairy) or to communicate them to others.” (Schutz, 1967, p. 116)
phenomenological investigation of meanings22
Phenomenological Investigation of Meanings
  • Social meaning construction in face-to-face relationship
    • Sign and sign system:
      • “Signs are artifacts or act-objects which are interpreted not according to those interpretive schemes which are adequate to them as objects of the external world but according to schemes not adequate to them and belong rather to other object.” (Schutz, 1967, p. 120)

In constructing a sign, the actor undertakes the act of signification, that is, to assign a sign to an object in the external world.

As on the part of the reader of the sign, she has to undertake an act of interpretation, which has been defined as the core activities that qualitative researchers have to undertake.

Spoken and written signs in a language are the exemplary representations of sign used by human kind.

phenomenological investigation of meanings23
Phenomenological Investigation of Meanings
  • Social meaning construction in face-to-face relationship
    • Sign and sign system:
      • “Accordingly, sign system refers to well established, widely used, and universally interpreted signs disseminating and communicating among members of a defined human aggregate; for instance, language systems of Chinese, English, etc.

(To be explicated in details in Lecture 5)

phenomenological investigation of meanings24
Phenomenological Investigation of Meanings
  • Social meaning construction in face-to-face relationship
    • Concept of externalization and objectification:
      • The concept of externalization of subjectivity: It is within a sign system, i.e. a culture and/or a cultural system, that subjective experiences and consciousnesses of individuals can be externalized and communicate to other members of the corresponding language and/or cultural system.
      • The concept of objectification of subjectivity: By externalizing one’s subjectivity onto concrete artifacts, subjectivity of mortal individual has then obtained endeavoring existence of its own, which may out-live the originating person.
    • The debate on objectivity between positive and interpretative sociologists (Adorno et al., 1976/1969; Giddens, 1974)
phenomenological conceptual framework of social meaning
Phenomenological conceptual framework of social meaning

Cultural system

Durée

Durée

Sign systems

Signs

Objectifications

Externalizations

Express

Acts

Intentionality

Express

Movements

Intentionality

phenomenological investigation of meanings25
Phenomenological Investigation of Meanings
  • Phenomenology of social meaning
    • Social-meaning construction with the contemporaries
      • As individuals move farther and farther apart, such as residents in a metropolitan such as Hong Kong, fellow citizens of a nation such as PRC, members of a “nation” such as the Chinese, dwellers of the same continent such as the Asians, fellow residents of the global village, how can they come to shared meanings?
phenomenological investigation of meanings26
Phenomenological Investigation of Meanings
  • Phenomenology of social meaning
    • Social-meaning construction with the contemporaries
      • Concepts of ideal type and typification:
        • As contemporaries, who are located in physically long distance which does not enable them to have face-to-face confirmation of their meanings to their counterparts, they have to then presume and rely on the ideal-typical interpretive schema generated and established in so-called “institutional contexts”.
        • For examples, the ideal-typical role-performances prescribed to teachers and students in modern educational institutions; ideal-typical role-performances presumed by both the husband and the wife in the marriage institution; or sellers and buyers in international trade or cyber-transactions.
phenomenological investigation of meanings27
Phenomenological Investigation of Meanings
  • Phenomenology of social meaning
    • Social-meaning construction with the contemporaries
      • Concepts of ideal type and typification:
        • The act of prescribing ideal-typical roles and their corresponding role-performances to partners in interaction has been characterized by Schutz and his followers as “typification”.

(To be explicated in details in Lecture 4)

phenomenological investigation of meanings28
Phenomenological Investigation of Meanings
  • Phenomenology of social meaning
    • Social-meaning construction with the contemporaries
      • Accordingly, the concepts of institution and institutionalization have been reformulated and used by followers of Alfred Schuts, such as Berger and Luckmann, and advocates of New-institutionalism in qualitative researches in social sciences in recent decades.

(To be explicated in Lecture 6)

phenomenological investigation of meanings29
Phenomenological Investigation of Meanings
  • Phenomenology of social meaning
    • Social-meaning construction with the predecessors
      • To come to agreement with the deaths: When the meaning configurations are constructed in remotely temporal distance and the text and relics, it poses insurmountable difficulties to researchers who are supposed to retrieve the “authentic” meanings because the interpretive findings can no longer be confirmed with their “authors”. The situation has been characterized by Ricoeur (1984) as the most acute example of Kant’s demarcation between noumenon and phenomenon, that historians can never the past in itself from the historical texts and relics.
phenomenological investigation of meanings30
Phenomenological Investigation of Meanings
  • Phenomenology of social meaning
    • Social-meaning construction with the predecessors
      • Schutz suggests that historians, who are to “reconstruct” the meaning configurations of the deaths, have to presume the notion of the stream of history in parallel to the streams of consciousness, social institutions and cultural system and to strive to constitute the “fusion of horizons” across times. Most specifically, as Paul Ricoeur underlines, historians are expected to be able to muster kinds of “sympathetic efforts” and “temporal imagination”, that is, to project “not merely an imaginative projection into another present but a real projection into another human life.” (ibid, p. 28)

(To be explicate in Lecture 6)

slide36
Phenomenological conceptual framework of social-meaning construction with contemporaries and predecessors

Institutional context of the predecessors

Fusion of horizons

Typiifcation

Typiifcation

Institutionalization

Institutionalization

Institutional context of the contemporaries

phenomenological investigation of meanings31
Phenomenological Investigation of Meanings
  • Recent development in the phenomenology of being

Scholars of the theoretical traditions of the critical theory and phenomenological psychology have made references to on the philosophy of Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty and have further refined the conceptual components of the phenomenology of social meanings.

phenomenological investigation of meanings32
Phenomenological Investigation of Meanings
  • Recent development in the phenomenology of being
    • The concept of the situated-subject: By applying Heidegger concept of “Being-there” (Dasein) and his critique on Husserl’s transcendental approach to human experience and consciousness, contemporary critical interpretative social scientists have allocated the concept of the inner consciousness of time, the Ego or more generally the subject back into Heidegger’s concept of “worldiness”. They contend that the subjects do not exist in some transcendental stream of consciousness, but have been “thrown into”, in Heidegger’s terms, some pre-existing world of people, languages, cultures, or even social-class situations. Hence, in the approach to critical qualitative research, it is advocated that the meaning-context of the social-situations, in which the subjects existentially find themselves, must be put back into the meaning-construction process and critical analyzed.
phenomenological investigation of meanings33
Phenomenological Investigation of Meanings
  • Recent development in the phenomenology of being
    • The concept of the body-subject: French philosopher Merleau-Ponty also wages his critique on Husserl’s transcendental phenomenology by point to another aspect of the situatedness of the subject. He underlines that human beings are first and foremost biological organisms, that is, their streams of consciousness of duration are ineluctably embodied in some forms of body and flesh. In connection to this approach to subjectivity, contemporary critical social scientists, especially feminists, contend that special references to concepts such as body-subject, embodiment, sexuality and so on, must be brought back into the core concerns in studies of human subjectivity and their meaning-construction process, i.e. qualitative researches.

(To be explicated in Lecture 7)

hermeneutics of meanings
Hermeneutics of Meanings
  • What is hermeneutics?
    • Paul Ricoeur specifies that “hermeneutics is the theory of the operations of understanding in the relation to the interpretation of texts.” (Ricoeur, 1981, p.43) More specifically, we may construe hermeneutics as research efforts in retrieving the meanings that have been endowed, externalized and even objectified on some apprehensible formats by some known or unknown, and accessible or inaccessible human subjects.
    • We may further construe hermeneutics in a way that it is in opposite direction to phenomenology. That is phenomenology strive to reveal how human subjects endow their subjective meaning onto their worldly environment, while hermeneutics takes up what phenomenology has finish, that is to retrieve from the “textual objects” the subjective meaning that human subjects have encoded onto.
hermeneutics of meanings1
Hermeneutics of Meanings
  • Charles Taylor’s Meaning and Interpretation:
    • Concept of interpretation:

“Interpretation … is an attempt to make clear, to make sense of an object of study. This object must, therefore, be a text, or a text-analogue, which in some way is confused, incomplete, cloudy, seemingly contradictory  in one way or another unclear. The interpretation aims to bring to light an underlying coherence or sense. …The object of a science of interpretation must thus have (a) sense (coherence and meaning) , distinguishable from its (b) expression, which is for or by (c) a subject.” (Taylor, 1994, p.181-182)

hermeneutics of meanings2
Hermeneutics of Meanings
  • Charles Taylor’s Meaning and Interpretation:
    • Concept of meaning

“When we speak of the ‘meaning’ of a given predicament, we are using a concept which has the following articulation:

      • Meaning is for a subject…
      • Meaning is of something…
      • Things only have meaning in a field, that is, in relation to the meanings of other things.” (Taylor, 1994, p. 185-186)
dimensions of interpretation
Dimensions of Interpretation

Meaning

In relation to

of

for

Field

something

Subject

hermeneutics of meanings3
Hermeneutics of Meanings
  • Charles Taylor’s Meaning and Interpretation:
    • Dimension of meaning: “Meanings …. is for a subject, of something, in a field. This distinguishes it from linguistic meaning which has a four- and not three-dimensional structure. Linguistic meaning is for subjects and in a field, but it is the meaning of signifiers and it is about a world of referent.” (Taylor, 1994, p.186)
dimensions of linguistic meaning
Dimensions of Linguistic Meaning

Linguistic Meaning

In relation to

of

for

Field

about

referent

signifier

Subject

hermeneutics of meanings4
Hermeneutics of Meanings
  • Charles Taylor’s Meaning and Interpretation:
    • Levels of interpretation: “There is … utter heterogeneity of interpretation to what it is about; rather there is a slide (level) in the notion of interpretation. Already to be a living agent is to experience one’s situation in terms of certain meaning, and this is in a sense can be thought of as a sort of proto-‘interpretation.’. This is in turn interpreted and shaped by the language (or any other forms of expression) in which the agent lives these meanings. This whole is then at a third level interpreted by the explanation we proffer of his action.” (Taylor, 1994, p. p. 189)
hermeneutics of meanings5
Hermeneutics of Meanings
  • Jerome Bruner's tenets of the paradigm of culturalism in cognition
    • The perspective tenet: "The meaning of any fact, proposition, or encounter is relative to the perspective or frame of reference in terms of which it is construed." (Bruner, 1996, p. 13) This tenet basically resonates with Charles Taylor 's conception of meaning, which specifies that meanings are meaningful for someone, of something, and in a specific field and/or context, in short in perspective. Accordingly, any meaning making and inquiring begins with locating the perspective at work.
hermeneutics of meanings6
Hermeneutics of Meanings
  • Jerome Bruner's tenets of the paradigm of culturalism in cognition
    • The constraint tenet: "The forms of meaning making accessible to human beings in any culture are constrained in two crucial way" (Pp.15-19)
      • The constraint "inheres in the nature of human mental functioning itself."
      • The constraint "imposed by the symbolic system accessible to human minds generally …but more particularly ….by the languages and notational systems accessible to different cultures."
hermeneutics of meanings7
Hermeneutics of Meanings
  • Jerome Bruner's tenets of the paradigm of culturalism in cognition
    • The constructiveism tenet: "The 'reality' that we impute to the 'worlds' we inhabits is a constructed one." The tenet implies that human beings are meaning-making specie and they attribute meanings to the environment in which they reside. As a result they constructed the "reality" out of the environment. The tenet resonates Immanuel Kant distinction between noumenonal world (the world as it is) and the phenomenal world (the world as we see it).
hermeneutics of meanings8
Hermeneutics of Meanings
  • Jerome Bruner's tenets of the paradigm of culturalism in cognition
    • The externalization tenet: All meaning making are "work", i.e. deliberate efforts of an individual or a group of individuals. That is they have to be externalized from the 'authors' themselves and "achieve an existence of their own." At societal level, they may be expressed in the form of "the arts and sciences of a culture, institutional structure such as its laws and its markets, even its 'history' conceived as a canonical version of the past." (p.22) At group level, they may manifest in group solidarity, social identity and group behaviors. At individual level, its "expressions" may take the forms of self identity, self presentation, life style and in general what Erving Goffman called "the presentation of the self".
hermeneutics of meanings9
Hermeneutics of Meanings
  • Jerome Bruner's tenets of the paradigm of culturalism in cognition
    • The instrumentalism tenet: Acts of meanings imputation by individuals or groups to objects in their surroundings are not random or arbitrary. They are functional or instrumental to the very existence of the person or the society that attributes the meaning. In other words, meanings are "situated" or "embedded" with the very existence of the meaning makers. Hence, it echoes Weber’s advice to qualitative researchers about imaginatively and/ or empathetically participating and/or immersing into the situations of the subjects under study in order to reveal the embedded meanings.
hermeneutics of meanings10
Hermeneutics of Meanings
  • Jerome Bruner's tenets of the paradigm of culturalism in cognition
    • The institutional tenet: "Cultures are not simply collections of people sharing a common language and historical tradition. They are composed of institutions that specify more concretely what role people play and what status and respect these are accorded― though the culture at large expresses its way of life through institutions as well." (p. 29)

As systems of meanings of a society have been routinized into patterned and regular ways of doing things and ways of life, social institutions emerge. In other words, social institutions are one of the essential parts of the socially constructed reality of human kind. They are the embodiments and expressions of the fundamental meanings and values of a given society.

hermeneutics of meanings11
Hermeneutics of Meanings
  • Jerome Bruner's tenets of the paradigm of culturalism in cognition
    • The tenet of identity and self-esteem: Apart from social institutions, another salient product of the meaning-making project of human kind is their own identity and self-esteem. As George Herbert Mead contented, self is a self-interacting process, through which human beings designate meanings to themselves.
    • “What characterizes human selfhood is the construction of a conceptual system that organizes …a ‘record’ of agentive encounter with the world, a record that is related to the past… but that is also extrapolated into the future —self with history and with possibility.” (p. 36)
    • “Not only do we experience self as agentive, we evaluate our efficacy in bringing off what we hoped for or were asked to do. Self increasingly takes on the flavor of these valuations. I call this mix of agentive efficacy and self evaluation ‘self-esteem’.” (p.37)
hermeneutics of meanings12
Hermeneutics of Meanings
  • Jerome Bruner's tenets of the paradigm of culturalism in cognition
    • The narrative tenet: Bruner takes “narrative as a mode of thought and as a vehicle of meaning making” of human kind. “It seems evident …that skill in narrative construction and narrative understanding is crucial to constructing our lives and a ‘place’ for ourselves in the possible world we will encounter.” (p. 40) “We frame the accounts of our cultural origins and our most cherished beliefs in story form, and it is not just the ‘content ‘ of these stories that grips us, but their narrative artifice. Our immediate experience, what happened yesterday or the day before, is framed in the same stories way. Even more striking, we represent our lives (to ourselves as to other) in the form of narrative.” (p. 40)