Navigating Mindful Inquiry


During my first week of my research course, as part of my Masters of Arts in Learning and Technology at Royal Roads, I was introduced to many areas of social research. Some of which are completely foreign to me. In Mindful Inquiry in Social Research (Bentz & Shapiro, 1998) I was introduced to the concept of Hermeneutic Inquiry. Hermeneutics as a concept was inspired by the greek god Hermes, who was a messenger. I like the concept of Hermeneutics because it involves interpretation and particularly that of history. History is reinterpreted by the people reflecting on it. What we know re-orders the way we interpret what happened in the past. This is fascinating because we can always look back to make sense of what happened before us and apply new knowledge to make new truths. If I only knew then what I know now. There is an on-going desire to learn more and to interpret new meaning. The interpretations are not left to whimsy, they strive for “objectivity in understanding and using interpretations to do so” (p. 116).

There is much I have to learn. Here are some strategies to get me started.

Getting started with Mindful Inquiry.
Getting started with Mindful Inquiry.

As I navigate my epistemological beliefs and how I wish to explore knowledge I will be continuing to post my thoughts during the next 2 years. I hope you will join me.

Bentz, V. M., & Shapiro, J. J. (1998). Mindful Inquiry in Social Research. Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE Publications, Inc.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. marlasdawn says:

    Hermeneutics is one that I haven’t delved into too much. I love the image of a messenger and the focus on interpretation of history. The messenger is a time traveler!

  2. I find Hermeneutics to be quite interesting, as well. I’m discovering that I like history. I like to learn about how life was in the past. I especially like to view it from different angles. As you point out in your blog, “History is re-interpreted by the people reflecting on it.” This can be the danger in Hermeneutics. We interpret history from our own lens. I think this means we need to ensure we include a diversity of people involved to ensure that the lens is as broad as possible. In that way, the objectivity that Hermeneutics strives for will be reached. Thanks for your blog! I look forward to reading more.

  3. In an attempt to understand what hermeneutics represents as a research tradition, I’ve had to review the Bentz and Shapiro text several times. I believe I’ve found a place of personal respect for it as I create my own story to relate to it. I relate it to a wizened person talking to children, using metaphors around contemporary examples of our society to describe concepts of a past that the children could not grasp on their own. A line from Bentz & Shapiro (1998) strikes a chord with me, “Hermeneutics make us aware that, in a reciprocal interpretive process, the present is interpreted in terms of the texts of the past and their historical context, although those texts and that context are themselves interpreted in terms of the present” (p. 106). We use our own history to understand the context of today, and how we have changed in that context, yet how we interpret our own history changes with time. A noble study, one that may aspire to keep us true to ourselves perhaps?

  4. mymalatblog says:

    Hermeneutics has an artistic feel to it and that is probably why ti appeals to me. There is an art to interpretation and artists do it all the time when we interpret the world around us in a visual form. Have you thought about how Hermeneutics might appeal to you as a designer? or a photographer? This type of research might be an excellent fit for you Stephany. Good luck.

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