Interpretation and analysis of qualitative data inevitably involves a collision with one’s own lived experience. This paper reflects on a postgraduate research project that employed the methodology of grounded theory to determine themes around the meaning that individuals in a school community give to the term spirituality. Reflecting on the process has highlighted ways in which unexamined personal assumptions were at play as the researcher conducted analysis, influencing the interpretation of data. It is argued here that in researching the concept of spirituality, which is both nebulous and highly subjective, becoming aware of one’s own assumptions throughout the process is integral to an interpretation that illuminates the data with greater clarity. I argue here that engaging with Gadamer’s understanding of “prejudices” can assist researchers in considering their own perspective, regardless of the methodology employed, as well as providing an analytic method of engaging with these assumptions. The method for this engagement is subsequently provided.


Gadamer, Prejudices, Grounded Theory, Spirituality, Interpretation

Author Bio(s)

Claire Manton is PhD Candidate at Monash University, Australia. Her research explores the positioning of wellbeing and spirituality in education with a particular interest in the interconnection between the two phenomena. Prior to this, Claire worked in primary education for 15 years as a teacher and Wellbeing Leader. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: claire.manton@monash.edu.


I wish to express my sincere thanks to the Wellbeing and Community Partnerships Unit of Catholic Education Melbourne, and to Helen Butler for her valuable feedback throughout the project and beyond.

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