Feminist research and philosophical hermeneutics: overlaps and synergies

Laura Anne Bliss, John McGarry

Research output: Contribution to conference (unpublished)Paperpeer-review


For a long time, social research was essentially ‘male study of male society’ (Millman and Kanter 1987, 30). Thus, women were ‘subjected’ to research in a top-down manner, from a distant and privileged position. Over time, and as a challenge to this, feminist researchers developed methods of conducting research with the aim of empowering women, valuing their experience and promoting equality between researcher and researched.

These aspects of feminist research echo the non-hierarchical approach implicit in Hans-Georg Gadamer’s exposition of philosophical hermeneutics and, particularly, in his account of a true conversation. For Gadamer, a true conversation is characterised by an openness, receptiveness and non-dogmatic willingness to learn: ‘there is no higher principle than this: holding oneself open to the conversation … recognizing in advance the possibility that your [conversation] partner may be right, even recognizing the possible superiority of your partner’ (Gadamer 1997). In such a conversation ‘one does not try to argue the other person down but that one really considers the weight of the other’s opinion’ (Gadamer 1960, 367).

Drawing on existing work (eg: Okin 1989; Warnke 1993; Hoffmann 2002), this paper seeks to explore the overlaps and synergies between the central principles of feminist research and philosophical hermeneutics, specifically Gadamer’s account of a true conversation.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2017
EventSocio-Legal Studies Association (SLSA) Annual Conference - Newcastle, United Kingdom
Duration: 5 Apr 20177 Apr 2017


ConferenceSocio-Legal Studies Association (SLSA) Annual Conference
Abbreviated titleSLSA 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


Dive into the research topics of 'Feminist research and philosophical hermeneutics: overlaps and synergies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this