The Association for Objective Hermeneutics (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Objektive Hermeneutik, "AGOH") considers itself to be an association for the advancement of research science, in particular of hermeneutical social research according to the principles of Objective Hermeneutics ("OH"), a research methodology, which emerged during the 1970s in Germany. In one of the rare translated English texts, in which this methodology has been presented and justified, its founders declared:
"Our approach has grown out of the empirical study of family interactions as well as reflection upon the procedures of interpretation employed in our research. For the time being we shall refer to it as objective hermeneutics in order to distinguish it clearly from traditional hermeneutic techniques and orientations. The general significance for sociological analysis of objective hermeneutics issues from the fact that, in the social sciences, interpretive methods constitute the fundamental procedures of measurement and of the generation of research data relevant to theory. From our perspective, the standard, nonhermeneutic methods of quantitative social research can only be justified because they permit a shortcut in generating data (and research "economy" comes about under specific conditions). Whereas the conventional methodological attitude in the social sciences justifies qualitative approaches as exploratory or preparatory activities, to be succeeded by standardized approaches and techniques as the actual scientific procedures (assuring precision, validity, and objectivity), we regard hermeneutic procedures as the basic method for gaining precise and valid knowledge in the social sciences. However, we do not simply reject alternative approaches dogmatically. They are in fact useful wherever the loss in precision and objectivity necessitated by the requirement of research economy can be condoned and tolerated in the light of prior hermeneutically elucidated research experiences." (Oevermann et al. 1987, German Original: Oevermann et al. 1979)
The Association was founded in Frankfurt am Main (Germany) on September 19, 1992, by scholars of various disciplines, in the humanities and in the social sciences. Its goal is to provide all scholars using this methodology with a means for steady and continual exchange and a platform spanning those disciplines in which the methodology is being used. The Association also seeks to diffuse the general principles of its methodological approach among colleagues.
The Aassociation’s main emphasis lies in the organization of conferences (annual meetings).
a) At least once a year – usually in the second half of September – the association hosts a two-day conference for members and non-members. These conferences provide an opportunity for discussing methodological problems and research results. The conference format allots sufficient time to discuss each paper in detail - more than is sometimes granted at similar conferences. In this way, the association seeks to pay heed to the fact that research projects designed according to the standards of the objective hermeneutic’s sequential analysis will not usually be presentable within a restricted time frame. Because each presenter is usually granted 75 minutes for his presentation (including discussion), the total number of papers read at the conference is limited.
b) In irregular intervals – about every three years – the association is host to a larger, theme-focused conference. These conferences provide an opportunity to discuss related research projects. In addition, these conferences make it possible to present objective hermeneutic research to colleagues not working with this approach – in the social sciences as well as the humanities – and to do so with a clear thematic reference. In order to facilitate such an exchange, the association invites to these conferences scientists which do not work with this methodology. We seek to publish the most important papers presented at these conferences, and we try to add to these volumes related papers which have not been presented, but which are of relevance to its thematic focus and in keeping with our methodological standards. In this way, the results of objective hermeneutic research will be made available to a larger audience in a given field. The association will provide the financial support needed for these publications which will be part of the book series "Forschungsbeiträge aus der objektiven Hermeneutik" (which is published with Humanities-Online in Frankfurt/Germany).