Limits of Interpretation or Interpretation at the Limits: Perspectives From Hermeneutics on the Re-Figuration of Space and Cross-Cultural Comparison

  • Jo Reichertz Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut (KWI) Essen
Keywords: figurational sociology, cross-cultural comparison, sociology of space, spatial analysis, re-figuration of spaces, intercultural data, hermeneutics, sociology of knowledge, qualitative research


In this article, I discuss how social scientists can interpret intercultural data in a scientific manner. I argue that, when applying methods of social research, the interpretation of intercultural data does not differ fundamentally, but only slightly from the interpretation of intracultural data. However, it is important to include co-interpreters who are familiar with the culture under investigation into the process of interpreting intercultural data. In addition, I explain that hermeneutics has also come under pressure when faced with the interpretation of intracultural data: In hermeneutics, the premise of the unity of culture of the investigated and the investigators presupposes that cultures are delimitable and that they essentially are not further subdivided. If such a unity of culture ever existed, this unity has undoubtedly been eroded by international developments in recent decades and the concomitant need for contact. Based on these reflections, I conclude by presenting and discussing possibilities for as well as limits on inter- and intracultural interpretation.


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Author Biography

Jo Reichertz, Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut (KWI) Essen

Prof. em. Dr. Jo REICHERTZ is a senior fellow and board member of the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (KWI) in Essen (Germany) and principal investigator for the project area "Cultures of Communication." His main research areas include: qualitative methods; a sociology of knowledge approach to analyzing texts and visual data; cultural sociology; sociology of media, advertising and business communication; sociology of religion; and sociology of the police.

The Refiguration of Spaces and Cross-Cultural Comparison I

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