An integrated method for the study of cultural phenomena, in which different phases in the production, construction, and consumption of a cultural or sporting form or practice are recognized, but can be studied in an interrelated fashion. First articulated in communication and media studies, the depth hermeneutic was fully formulated by John B. Thompson (Ideology and Modern Culture: Critical Social Theory in the Era of Mass Communication, 1990), as a way of linking ‘different types of analysis’ on ‘the path of interpretation’. In relation to a sporting event, a depth hermeneutic approach would study, first, the circumstances of social production of the event (its organizational structures, its funding, its cultural or political genesis); second, the constructed product itself, its dominant themes and motifs, and its essentially performed context, often in the form of lived ritualized performances as well as artefacts—this is a formal/discursive analysis of the features, patterns, and relationships characterizing the event; and finally the method would be concerned with, in Thompson's words, ‘the creative construction of meaning…an interpretive explication of what is represented or what is said’; it would explore the modes and varieties of reception and interpretation of the event, how it is consumed, and in what ways meanings and understandings are generated in that act of consumption. Full depth hermeneutic studies can be daunting, requiring teams of experienced researchers competent in a variety of research techniques. The attraction of the method is clear though, offering analysis of the sport and its meanings at all phases from production to consumption, including the (theoretically) limitless cycles of interpretation. See also hermeneutics.
Subjects: Sport and Leisure.