IHSK   Department II


Clinical Sociology and Socioanalysis

Because they make possible a precise analysis of selected material, the methodologies that are part of Objective Hermeneutics offer significant benefits for both clinical sociology and socioanalysis. The methodologies make use of the fact that the structures of a given problem are represented in (and deducable from) texts which have been created by the actors in a given case -- a family, an organization, a political community, etc.

An excavation of these structures requires a step-by-step analysis of the material at hand -- an analysis which, by cautiously moving along from one sequence to the next, distills from its particular details the implicit notions of a given text. The material thus analyzed is selected with the aim of creating a maximum contrast: On the basis of past analyses and their results, additional material is selected which is likely to falsify or at least modify these results. This procedure facilitates an efficient diagnosis of a given case and it provides a precise and focused procedure for identifying structures and problems. To the client, the results are transparent because their deduction is evident. The categories which are used to describe and understand the problem are not set up in advance; they, too, are deduced from the sources while they are being analyzed. One of the methodology's important advantages lies in its adaptability to changes which take place while an analysis is going on. Such changes will quickly be incorporated by means of additional -- highly selective and targeted -- analyses of samples.

Even though methodology and reconstruction, on the one hand, and strategy and intervention, on the other, will have to be remain distinct analytically, we consider them to be natural components of the socioanalytical practice. Consulting and intervention stop where the client's autonomy and his responsibility begin. Socioanalysis seeks to restore the client's autonomy by relying on his potentials for restituting his autonomy and integrity, and it will end where the client, now provided with clear options and a scenario of likely consequences, will have to to make a decision himself: It remains the client's responsibility to solve the problem.

The consulting process is part of a "working alliance" based on mutual trust. The client is free to leave this alliance -- the consulting process -- at any point. The Institute charges by the hour or by the day so that the client's costs correspond to his needs.

Range of services

A selection of possible uses of Objective Hermeneutics in evaluation, problem diagnosis, and project design:

1. Analysis of all conceivable types of texts and protocols such as letters, interviews, publications, advertisements, satellite images, works of art, etc.

2. Analyzing and establishing the structure of entire systems, partial systems, groups, communities, individuals, as well as individual situations or processes (all types of organizations such as public administration, museums, schools, etc.)

3. Analysis and design of surveys as well as planning and evaluation of practical improvements that relate to:
- problems of political acceptance.
- social compatibility and acceptance of internal changes and innovation in business and public administration (this service is offered to public-sector organizations only).
- diagnosis of losses of operational efficiency which are due to conflicts and miscommunication within organizations.

4. Evaluation of projects in foreign cultures with respect to their adequate consideration of local peculiarities and cultural autonomy. This includes a consideration of the practical usefulness of these projects under local circumstances.

5. Support of qualitative data analysis.

6. Methodological support on how to analyze data and various types of texts (such as documents or interviews).

7. Conceptualizing "Requests for Proposals."

8. Conceptualizing research designs and diagnostic projects.

9. Data collection on the basis of case analyses.

In the context of professions (such as medicine, law, etc., but also social work), primary uses of Objective Hermeneutics relate to the analysis of texts and protocols in order to better focus on relevant questions and problems:

1. Organizational clients
- establishing a problem focus
- clarifying a working alliance with a client
- establishing a sequence of individual steps for implementing a solution
- finding and agreeing on controls

2. Supervision of professions which work with clients.

Some of our recent projects

• In-house-training: „Analyzing the objective meaning of advertisements“

• Analysis of an interview with a competitive swimmer as part of a research project on individual motives for performance-orientation

• Assistance in the design of a research project about the relationship of the owner of a future building (the awarding authority) and the building's architect

• Expert opinions on juvenile delinquents and their respective family structures (client: social workers and public administration)

• Analysis of interviews with jailed burglars: Analyzing break-in strategies (client: an insurance company)

• Analysis of a threatening letter to a medium-sized company: establishing a criminal profile on the basis of a text analysis

• Analysis of the course of events and of a letter of a suspect in a murder case on behalf of the prosecution

Additional information (in German)

Ulrich Oevermann, "Klinische Soziologie auf der Basis der Methodologie der objektiven Hermeneutik – Manifest der objektiv hermeneutischen Sozialforschung" (manuscript, March 2002) > Download (PDF)

For analysis, consulting, supervision: > Contact us


Last updated 02/05/2010 8:55


For analysis, consulting, supervision: > Contact us

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