What Is the Basic Idea in Hermeneutic Phenomenology?


Vincent White

Hermeneutic phenomenology is a research method that aims to understand and interpret the meanings people assign to their experiences. It originated in the field of philosophy, but has since been adopted by various disciplines including psychology, nursing, and education.

Basic Idea:
The basic idea in hermeneutic phenomenology is that individuals have unique experiences that are shaped by their cultural background, language, and personal history. These experiences cannot be understood using a purely objective approach because they involve subjective interpretations and meanings.

Hermeneutic phenomenology involves a qualitative approach to research, which means that it focuses on understanding the subjective experiences of individuals rather than quantifying objective data. Researchers who use this method typically engage in in-depth interviews with participants to gain insight into their perspectives and lived experiences.

Phenomenological Reduction:

One of the key concepts in hermeneutic phenomenology is the idea of “phenomenological reduction.” This involves setting aside any preconceived notions or assumptions about the experience being studied and approaching it with an open mind. By doing so, researchers can gain a deeper understanding of the meaning behind participants’ experiences.

Hermeneutic Circle:

Another important concept in hermeneutic phenomenology is the “hermeneutic circle.” This refers to the idea that understanding any individual part of an experience requires an understanding of the whole. In other words, researchers must consider each individual experience within its broader context to fully understand its meaning.

Data Analysis:

Data analysis in hermeneutic phenomenology involves a process called “bracketing,” which involves setting aside any assumptions or biases about the experience being studied. Researchers then engage in a process of interpretation and re-interpretation until they arrive at an understanding of the underlying meanings behind participants’ experiences.


Hermeneutic phenomenology has a wide range of applications in various fields. For example, it has been used in nursing research to gain insight into patients’ experiences with chronic illness. It has also been used in education to understand the experiences of students from diverse cultural backgrounds.

In conclusion, hermeneutic phenomenology is a research method that seeks to understand the subjective meanings behind individuals’ experiences. It involves an open-minded approach to data collection and analysis, and requires researchers to consider the broader context of each experience being studied. This method has broad applications across various fields and can provide valuable insights into the lived experiences of individuals.