Depth hermeneutics and critical human geography

Pile, S. (1990). Depth hermeneutics and critical human geography. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 8(2) pp. 211–232.



Initially, the author draws on the debate between Habermas and Gadamer about the methodology of the social sciences. Although there are substantial differences in their positions, together they form the basis for elaborating a depth hermeneutics which deploys the opposing attitudes of explanation and understanding into a comprehensive interpretive methodology. Thompson has set out a three-phase procedure which collectively constitute a depth hermeneutics. In the second section, these three phases and the way in which this method was applied in a field study of Somerset dairy farmers are described. It is shown that farmers' experience is both spatially and temporally organised through language. By means of examples from this analysis, it is suggested that Thompson's depth hermeneutic procedure may help one appreciate the way in which structures are reproduced through people's everyday (inter)actions. The paper concludes with an exploration of the implications for a critical human geography.

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