Hermeneutics of Self as a Research Approach

  • Kenneth Fleck Auckland University of Technology
  • Elizabeth Ann Smythe Auckland University of Technology
  • John M Hitchen Laidlaw College


Circumstances shaped the decision to engage in a hermeneutics of self. In contrast to a common research approach, the researcher became the participant. The purpose of the research was to reveal interpretive meaning of that experience toward the view of becoming a global coworker. Philosophical insights informing the methodological approach and the analysis were drawn from Heidegger, Gadamer, and theological authors. Twelve people drawn from a variety of backgrounds were invited to interview the researcher following a 3-week field visit to explore HIV/AIDs in Malawi. Interviews were transcribed and analysis achieved through THREADs: Thinking Hermeneutically and Reflecting through the Experience, Asking questions while Dwelling in the everyday. For the researcher the experience was at times painful but deeply rewarding. The insights that emerged provide a mirror through which intending global coworkers can consider their own assumptions, values, and motivations. Such an approach is worthy of adding to the research repertoire.

Author Biographies

Kenneth Fleck, Auckland University of Technology
Kenneth Fleck brings a background of intensive care nursing. He has recently completed a postgraduate diploma in theological studies. This paper is drawn from his Master of Philosophy thesis. He has now involved with HIV AIDs work in Thailand
Elizabeth Ann Smythe, Auckland University of Technology
Elizabeth is an Associate Professor with a background in nursing and midwifery. My current work is with postgraduate students across the health faculty. My research expertise is Heideggerian hermeneutics.
John M Hitchen, Laidlaw College
John is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Mission and Ministry of Laidlaw College, Auckland, New Zealand (formerly the Bible College of New Zealand). He teaches in the fields of Inter-cultural and Pacific Studies and their theological implications. His background has been in Theological Education in Papua New Guinea and New Zealand. His University of Aberdeen PhD explored the formation of Nineteenth Century Missionary Worldviews with special attention on James Chalmers of New Guinea.