Presentation on theme: "Phenomenological Sociology. Content Schutz’s Phenomenological Sociology Peter Berger and Luckmann: Sociology of Knowledge in Phenomenological Perspective."— Presentation transcript:
Content Schutz’s Phenomenological Sociology Peter Berger and Luckmann: Sociology of Knowledge in Phenomenological Perspective Bourdieu on Phenomenology and Ethnomethodology Garfinkel: Ethnomethodology
Schutz: meaningful structure of the world of daily life Schutz’s intellectual life was a concern for the meaningful structure of the world of daily life, the everyday working world into which each of us is born, within whose limits our existence unfolds, and which in its massive complexity, to outline and explore its essential features, and to trace out its manifold relationships were the composite parts of his central task, the realization of a philosophy of mundane reality, or in more formal language, of a phenomenology of the natural attitude. The understanding of the paramount reality of common- sense life is the clue to the understanding of the work of Schute.
Intersubjectivity The study of intersubjectivity seeks to answer questions such as these: How do we know other minds? Other selves? How is reciprocity of perspectives possible? How is mutual understanding and communication possible Intersubjectivity exists in the “vivid present” in which we speak and listen to each other. We share the same time and space with others. “This simultaneity is the essence of intersubjectivity, for it means that I grasp the subjectivity of the alter ego at the same time as I live in my own stream of consciousness. And this grasp in simultaneity of the other as well as his reciprocal grasp of me makes possible our being in the world together. Though both focused on subjectivity, phenomenological philosophers within the realm of consciousness and Schutz in the social world.
The common-sense world “The common-sense world,” “world of daily life,” “ every- day world ”,”everyday working world”, “ mundane reality” are variant expressions for the intersubjective world experienced by man within what Husserl terms the “natural attitude”. The common-sense world is the arena of social action; within it men come into relationship with each other and try to come to terms with each other as well as with themselves. All of this, however, is typically taken for granted, and this means that these structures of daily life are not themselves recognized or appreciated formally by common sense. Rather, common-sense sees the world, acts in the world, and interprets the world through these implicit typifications.
Biographical situation Common-sense world is given to us all in historical and cultural forms of universal validity, but the way in which these forms are translated in an individual life depends on the totality of the experience a person builds up in the course of his concrete existence. The actor’s actual situation has its history; it is the sedimentation of all his previous subjective experiences. They are not experienced by the actor as being anonymous but as unique and subjectively given to him and to him alone. The example of stranger
Stock of Knowledge at Hand At any moment in his life the individual has a stock of knowledge at hand. This stock is made up of typifications of the common-sense world. This “stockpiling” of typifications is endemic to common- sense life. From childhood on, the individual continues to amass a vast number of “recipes” which then serve as techniques for understanding or at least controlling aspects of his experience. Finally, the typifications which comprise the stock of knowledge are generated out of a social structure. Here as everywhere, knowledge is socially rooted, socially distributed, and socially informed. Yet its individual expression depends on the unique placement of the individual in the social world.
Action as the starting point for a methodology of the social sciences Schutz stressed upon action as the starting point for a methodology of the social sciences. It is an insistence on the qualitative difference between the kinds of reality investigated by natural scientists and social scientists. It is a plea for appreciating the fact that men are not only elements of the scientist’s field of observation but preinterpreters of their own field of action, that their overt conduct is only a fragment of their total behavior, that the first challenge given to those who seek to understand social reality is to comprehend the subjectivity of the actor by grasping the meaning an act has for him, the axis of the social world.
Knowledge and construct All our knowledge of the world, in common-sense as well as in scientific thinking, involves constructs, i.e., a set of abstractions, generalizations, formalizations, idealizations specific to the respective level of thought organization. Strictly speaking, there are no such things as facts, pure and simple. All facts are from the outset facts selected from a universal context by the activities of our mind. They are, therefore, always interpreted facts, either facts looked at as detached from their context by an artificial abstraction or facts considered in their particular setting. In either case, they carry along their interpretational inner and outer horizon. This does not mean that, in daily life or in science, we are unable to grasp the reality of the world. It just means that we grasp merely certain aspects of it, namely those which are relevant to us either for carrying on our business of living or from the point of view of a body of accepted rules of procedure of thinking called the method of science.
The constructs of the natural science It is up to the natural scientists to determine which sector of the universe of nature, which facts and events therein, and which aspects of such facts and events are topically and interpretationally relevant to their specific purpose. These facts and events are neither preselected nor preinterpreted; they do not reveal intrinsic relevance structures. Relevance is not inherent in nature as such, it is the result of the selective and interpretative activity of man within nature or observing nature. The facts, data, and events with which the natural scientist has to deal are just facts, data, and events within his observational field but this field does not “mean” anything to the molecules, atoms, and electrons therein.
Particular structure of the constructs of social sciences But the facts, events, and data before the social scientist are of an entirely different structure. His observational field, the social world, is not essentially structureless. It has a particular meaning and relevance structure for the human beings living, thinking, and acting therein. They have preselected and preinterpreted this world by a series of common-sense constructs of the reality of daily life, and it is these thought objects which determine their behavior, define the goal of heir action, the means available for attaining them- in brief, which help them to find their bearings within their natural and socio-cultural environment and to come to terms with it. The thought objects constructed by the social scientists refer to and are founded upon the thought objects constructed by the common-sense thought of man living his everyday life among his fellow-men. Thus, the constructs used by the social scientist are, so to speak, constructs of the second degree, namely constructs of the constructs made by the actors on the social scene, whose behavior the scientist observes and tries to explain in accordance with the procedural rules of his science.
Peter Berger & Luckmann Sociology of knowledge Society is a human product Society is an objective reality Man is a social product People are the products of the very society that they create
Object of sociology of knowledge The sociology of knowledge must concern itself with everything that passes for “knowledge” in society. As soon as one states this, one realizes that the focus on intellectual history is ill-chosen, or rather, is ill-chosen if it becomes the central focus of the sociology of knowledge. Theoretical thought, “ideas,” Weltanschauungen are not that important in society. Although every society contains these phenomena, they are only part of the sum of what passes for “knowledge”. Only a very limited group of people in any society engages in theorizing, in the business of “ideas,” and the construction of Weltanschauungen.But everyone in society participates in its “knowledge” in one way or another. Put differently, only a few are concerned with the theoretical interpretation of the world, but everybody lives in a world of some sort. Not only is the focus on theoretical thought unduly restrictive for the sociology of knowledge, it is also unsatisfactory because even this part of socially available “Knowledge” cannot be fully understood if it is not placed in the framework of a more general analysis of “knowledge”.
Object of sociology of knowledge To exaggerate the importance of theoretical thought in society and history is a natural failing of theorizers. It is then all the more necessary to correct this intellectualistic misapprehension. The theoretical formulations of reality, whether they be scientific or philosophical or even mythological, do not exhaust what is “real” for the members of a society. Since this is so, the sociology of knowledge must first of all concern itself with what people “know” as “reality” in their everyday, non-or pretheoretical lives. In other words, commonsense “knowledge” rather than “ideas” must be the central focus for the sociology of knowledge. It is precisely this “knowledge” that constitutes the fabric of meanings without which no society could exist.
Object of sociology of knowledge The sociology of knowledge, therefore, must concern itself with the social construction of reality. The analysis of the theoretical articulation of this reality will certainly continue to be a part of this concern, but not the most important part. It will be clear that, despite the exclusion of the epistemological/methodological problem, what we are suggesting here is a far reaching redefinition of the scope of the sociology of knowledge, much wider than what has hitherto been understood as this discipline.
Bourdieu: total anthropology Society has an objective structure, but it is no less true that it is also crucially composed, in Schopenhauer’s famed expression, of “representation and will”. It matters that individuals have a practical knowledge of the world and invest this practical knowledge in their ordinary activity. Unlike objective science, a total anthropology cannot keep to a construction of objective relations because the experience of meanings is part and parcel of the total meaning of experience.
Topics for a genuine science of human practice A genuine science of human practice cannot be content with merely superimposing a phenomenology on a social topology. It must also elucidate the perceptual and evaluative schemata that agents invest in their everyday life. Where do these schemata (definitions of the situation, typifications, interpretive procedures) come from, and how do they relate to the external structures of society? Bourdieu
Correspondence: social structures and mental structures There exists a correspondence between social structures and mental structures, between the objective divisions of the social world-particularly into dominant and dominated in the various fields- and the principles of vision and division that agents apply to it Durkheim and Mauss: the cognitive systems operative in primitive societies are derivations of their social system: the underlying mental schemata are patterned after the social structure of the group. Bourdieu
Genetic link between social divisions and mental schemata Social divisions and mental schemata are structurally homologous because they are genetically linked: the latter are nothing other than the embodiment of the former. Cumulative exposure to certain social conditions instills in individuals an ensemble of durable and transposable dispositions that internalize the necessities of the extant social environment, inscribing inside the organism the patterned inertia and constraints of external reality. Bourdieu
Political function by the correspondence between social and mental structures The correspondence between social and mental structures fulfills crucial political functions. Symbolic systems are not simply instruments of knowledge, they are also instruments of domination Bourdieu
Social order is reinforced by representation of social world The conservation of the social order is decisively reinforced by the orchestration of categories of perception of the social world which, being adjusted to the divisions of the established order (and therefore, to the interests of those who dominate it ) and common to all minds structured in accordance with those structures, impose themselves with all appearance of objective necessity. Bourdieu
Sociology of knowledge is a political sociology If we grant that symbolic systems are social products that contribute to making the world, that they do not simply mirror social relations but help constitute them, then one can, within limits, transform the world by transforming its representation Classes and other antagonistic social collectives are continually engaged in a struggle to impose the definition of the world that is most congruent with their particular interests. The sociology of knowledge or of cultural forms is eo ipso a political sociology, that is a sociology of symbolic power. Bourdieu
Bourdieu on Ethnomethodology In contrast with structuralist objectivism, constructivist asserts that social reality is a contingent ongoing accomplishment of competent social actors who continually construct their social world via the organized artful practices of everyday life. Through the lens of this social phenomenology, society appears as the emergent product of the decisions, actions, and cognitions of conscious, alert individuals to whom the world is given as immediately familiar and meaningful. Its value lies in recognizing the part that mundane knowledge, subjective meaning, and practical competency play in the continual production of society; it gives pride of place to agency and to the socially approved system of typifications and relevances through which persons endow their “life-world” with sense
Habermas on Phenomenology Two lines of the analysis of rationality -Realistic line: it starts from the ontological presupposition of the world as the sum total of what is the case and clarifies the conditions of rational behavior on this basis. -Phenomenological line: it gives a transcendental twist to the question and reflects on the fact that those who behave rationally must themselves presuppose an objective world.
Phenomenological line of reason The phenomenologist does not rely upon the guiding thread of goal- directed or problem-solving action. He does not, that is, simply begin with the ontological presupposition of an objective world; he makes this a problem by inquiring into the conditions under which the unity of an objective world is constituted for the members of a community. The world gains objectivity only through counting as one and the same world for a community of speaking and acting subjects. The abstract concept of the world is a necessary condition if communicatively acting subjects are to reach understanding among themselves about what takes place in the world or is to be effected in it. Through this communicative practice they assure themselves at the same time of their common life-relations, of an intersubjectively shared lifeworld. This lifeworld is bounded by the totality of interpretations presupposed by the members as background knowledge. To elucidate the concept of rationality the phenomenologist must then examine the conditions for communicatively achieved consensus; he must analyze “ mundane reasoning” Habermas
Defining Ethnomethodology The study of the body of common-sense knowledge and the range of procedures and considerations by means of which the ordinary members of society make sense of, find their way about in, and act on the circumstances in which they find themselves (Heritage) In contrast with Durkheim, Ethnomethodology treats the objective reality of social facts as the accomplishment of members- as a product of members’ methodological activities. For Ethnomethodology the objective reality of social facts, in that, and just how, it is every society’s locally, endogenously produced, naturally organized, reflexively accountable, ongoing, practical achievement, being everywhere, always, only, exactly and entirely, members’ work, with no time out, and with no possibility of evasion, hiding out, passing, postponement, or buy-outs, is thereby sociology’s fundamental phenomenon (Garfinkel) Ethnomethodology is concerned with the organization of everyday life., “ immortal, ordinary society”, or it is the extraordinary organization of the ordinary (Pollner)
Key points of Ethnomethodology Contingency Situated Indexity Accountability and reflexivity
Points of Ethnomethodology Ethnomethodologists do not focus on actors or individuals, but rather on “members”. However, members are viewed not as individuals, but rather “strictly and solely, as membership activities- the artful practices whereby they produce what are for them large- scale organization structure and small-scale interactional or personal structure. One of Garfinkel’s key points about ethnomethods is that they are “reflexively accountable.” Accounts are the ways in which actors explain (describe, criticize, and idealize) specific situations. Accounting is the process by which people offer accounts in order to make sense of the world. Ethnomethodologists devote a lot of attention to analyzing people’s accounts, as well as to the ways in which accounts are offered and accepted (or rejected) by others.
Breaching experiments In breaching experiments, social reality is violated in order to shed light on the methods by which people construct social reality. The assumption behind this research is not only that the methodical production of social life occurs all the time but also that the participants are unaware that they are engaging in such actions. The objective of the breaching experiments is to disrupt normal procedures so that the process by which the everyday world is constructed or reconstructed can be observed and studied.
Indexical expression 1) Whenever a member is required to demonstrate that an account analyzes an actual situation, he invariably makes use to the practices of “et cetera,” “unless,” and “let it pass” to demonstrate the rationality of his achievement. 2)The definite and sensible character of the matter that is being reported is settled by an assignment that reporter and auditor make to each other that each will have furnished whatever unstated understandings are required. Much therefore of what is actually reported is not mentioned. 3) Over the time for their delivery accounts are apt to require that “auditors” be willing to wait for what will have been said will have become clear 4) Like conversations, reputations, and careers, the particulars of accounts are built up step by step over the actual uses of and references to them. 5) An account’s materials are apt to depend heavily for sense upon their serial placement, upon their relevance to the auditor’s projects, or upon the developing course of the organizational occasions of their use.
References Yu Hai: Western Social Theory - No. 28. Schutz: Common-Sense and Scientific Interpretation of Human Action - No. 29. Peter Berger and Luckmann: Object of Knowledge Sociology - No.31. Garfinkel: What is Ethnomethodology? Bourdieu and Wacquant: An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology, Part One. Habermas: The Theory of Communicative Action, Volume 1, Chapter 1.