About the Institute

  The Institute for Hermeneutic Research on Culture and Society (IHSK) was founded in Frankfurt on November 10, 2001.

The Institute is an independent scientific organization that focuses on research that makes use of Objective Hermeneutics and its methodologies in all areas of their respective application. On the basis of these methodologies, it seeks to establish clinical sociology as a professional practice and to provide education and training for socioanalysts. It considers the analysis of individual cases to be fundamental for both applied and basic research.

The Institute's self-conception and work hinges on the unity of social science and the humanities as branches of a science of the structures of meaning ("Erfahrungswissenschaft von der sinnstrukturierten Welt"). Its basic components are objective meaning, rule-governed action, and the individual's autonomy, and it considers these components to be methodologically represented in the analytical approaches that together constitute Objective Hermeneutics. The methodology's transdisciplinary nature corresponds to the Institute's transdisciplinary work--and to an approach which considers the method of analysis and the analyzed object to be one and the same thing. The methodologies comprised by Objective Hermeneutics find their practical use in an "art of application" (Kunstlehre): Instead of being applied mechanically, the general methodology is adjusted to a given case and object. The quantitative procedures of empirical social research are considered useful tools for establishing the frequency of a given diagnosis once a diagnosis has been developed but it is the procedures of Objective Hermeneutics which serve to identify basic structures and types. In this sense, we do not consider "qualitative" or "interpretive" procedures to be part of an exploratory stage of a type of research which will then proceed in a quantitative logic, but--on the contrary--as its foundation.

The institute's services--research, consulting, as well as education and training--are thus based on a comprehensible and testable methodology of identifying and tracing structures of meaning. The methodology is designed to comprehend the structure of a concrete case in its current reproduction as well as the transformation of this structure in the history of a given case. As a next step, an analysis makes possible an explication of the general structural laws of a given case.

Cases to be analyzed always consist of a concrete, decision-making and hence potentially autonomous "life practice" (Lebenspraxis) such as an individual, a community (family, nation-state, etc.), an organization, or another collective social entity. The reconstruction of a case begins with empirical material which may consist of any type of document which represents a given case's structure--material which will be explored by way of a sequential, step-by-step analysis in order to provide a diagnosis, an indication, and a means for developing theoretical models. These results provide the basis for socioanalytical intervention which is evaluated with the same methodological tools. Socioanalysis consists of both the methodology of Objective Hermeneutics and the practice of intervention, and yet the two components remain distinct.

The Institute intends to raise funds for research and supports itself by means of mission-oriented research, consulting, and other services offered to clients. In the long run, the Institute plans to offer postgraduate training for Socioanalysts. The Institute currently offers seminars for select professional groups such as social workers and to colleagues in the humanities and in the social sciences.

The Institute is a not-for-profit organization (e.V.). Members of the board: PD Dr. Andreas Franzmann, chair (sociology, Universität Frankfurt), Prof. Dr. Roland Becker-Lenz (sociology, University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland), PD Dr. Axel Jansen (history, Deputy Director of the German Historical Institute Washington), Katharina Worch, M.A. (American studies, Frankfurt).

The Institute's co-founder Prof. em. Dr. Ulrich Oevermann was chair of the board before he passed away in October 2021.


Last updated 11/21/2022 10:40


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