chapter  6
33 Pages

Interpretive Sociology

WithGibson Burrell, Gareth Morgan

The interpretive paradigm embraces a wide range of philosophical and sociological thought which shares the common characteristic of attempting to understand and explain the social world primarily from the point of view of the actors directly involved in the social process. In this chapter, the authors argue that the paradigm can be considered in terms of four distinct but related categories of interpretive theory, distinguished for the most part by their degree of ‘subjectivity’ in terms of the four strands of the subjective—objective dimension of the analytical scheme. They identify them as solipsism, phenomenology, phenomenological sociology, and hermeneutics. From the perspective of sociology as opposed to that of philosophy, the hermeneutic school of thought has as yet received relatively little attention within the context of the interpretive paradigm. The Hermeneutic school occupies the least subjectivist region of the paradigm. Phenomenology occupies the middle ground of the paradigm.