Hermeneutics is the study of how interpretive processes come to bear on the phenomenon of understanding and is often mentioned with phenomenology when discussed as a communication research method. It is a method of taking into account the phenomenon of meaning-making and its resultant impact on individual and group identity formation. For this reason, hermeneutics anticipates all communicative encounters as (inter)cultural. Sometimes referred to as interpretive theory or cultural theory, hermeneutics is a philosophical perspective and critical method initially derived from Western and Continental philosophical traditions, from such philosophers as Friedrich Schleiermacher, Wilhelm Dilthey, Martin Heidegger, Hans-Georg Gadamer, and Paul Ricouer. A theory of hermeneutics addresses how individuals and collectives understand texts and communicative actions via their interpretive practices. [Page 649]As a method, ...
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