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Tuesday, 2 June 2015
What is Interpretation

Interviewing for Education and Social Science Research: The Gateway Approach,
Carolyn Lunsford Mears, Palgrave/Macmillan, 2009, page 52

After calling several times on the work of Eisner, Mears talks about interpretation:

Interpretation, which asks what the situation means to those involved and what concepts can help explain it, requires a contextual basis for comprehending what was observed along with knowledge of antecedent factors that reveal possible causes, outcomes and impacts. Through interpretation, theories can guide perception and offer a foundational tool to be used in explicating the possible meaning of what is seen.

In other words, without an understanding of the context in which events and actions take place, it may be impossible to understand the events themselves and the meanings they have to those affected. For example, an anti-Semitic joke may be seen by 'innocent' bystanders as funny or perhaps simply in bad taste. To a Jewish person in a church context, it may be deeply hurtful at a personal level, or simply illustrate that in spite of recent efforts to improve, the church still doesn't get it.

This key point is that there is not just one way to interpret and understand what is seen or heard, but many.

Without some understanding and appreciation of the long and troubled Church-Jew relationship, there is no framework to explain what is happening.

Posted By Jonathan, 8:10am Comment Comments: 0