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Hermeneutics as a bridge between the modern and the postmodern in library and information science

Joacim Hansson (Swedish School of Library and Information Science, Göteborg Unversity and University College of Borås, Borås, Sweden)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 1 February 2005




To analyse the use of hermeneutics in library and information science (LIS).


Presents a literature‐based conceptual analysis of: the definition of hermeneutics in LIS; and the practical use of hermeneutics within recent LIS studies.


The use of hermeneutics in LIS has increased during the last decade, as has the number of authors discussing its scientific value for LIS. In many studies the interpretative character of the objects of study seen as hermeneutic in itself. This is a misconception which draws the attention away from hermeneutics as a scientific point of departure and methodology used in the study of these processes. The problem is specifically present in studies making explicit or implicit reference to a modern view of science, while studies referring to LIS as a postmodern field of study seem to be more at ease with hermeneutics.

Practical implications

Questions are raised on the fundamental use of hermeneutics in LIS. This may give rise to a deeper discussion on the scientific value and character of hermeneutics in LIS.


The paper questions the use of hermeneutics as a point of departure in LIS research by looking at the research made within the field. This perspective may increase understanding of the function of hermeneutics within LIS, something which is of value both for the research community and for students within LIS.



Hansson, J. (2005), "Hermeneutics as a bridge between the modern and the postmodern in library and information science", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 61 No. 1, pp. 102-113.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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