Contextural Analysis: A Methodology for Reconstructing Polycontextural Relations, Demonstrated by the Example of Transgression in the Teacher-Student Relationship in Tibetan Buddhism

Werner Vogd, Jonathan Harth


In many areas of qualitative research the question arises of how to methodologically deal with the co-presence of different speaker positions, institutional logics, and—as a result of that—broken self- and world relationships. From a theoretical-methodological perspective, Gotthard GÜNTHER's (1979) theory of polycontextuality has proved particularly useful. In this article we take up the concept of polyphony (BAHKTIN, 1971 [1929]), which is gaining prominence in linguistics and literary studies, in order to show how empirical texts can be understood in the sense of a polyvalent hermeneutics. This is demonstrated using the example of transgression within relationships between teachers and students in Tibetan Buddhism. The interpretation of interviews with students of Sogyal Rinpoche will show how ambivalence regarding the integrity of the teacher are dealt with and how the associated systemic dynamics can be reconstructed. As a conclusion, the connection between contextural analysis and documentary method will be shown.


contextural analysis; polycontexturality; polyphony; reconstructive social research; documentary method; systems theory; Tibetan Buddhism; teacher-pupil relationship; transgression


Copyright (c) 2019 Werner Vogd, Jona Harth

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.