Phenomenology: Alfred Schutz’s Structures of the Life-World and Their Implications

Item Type Book Section
Abstract The phenomenological life-world analysis by Alfred Schutz exerted a tremendous influence on qualitative social research by emphasizing the problem of meaning on a theoretical as well as methodological level. This chapter delineates the development from Husserl’s transcendental philosophy to Schutz’s mundane phenomenology and its methodological postulates for the social sciences. Most important is the postulate of subjective interpretation which requires of social scientist to explore the common-sense world of actors in their everyday lives and the ways actors orient to and make sense of their situations. As important is the postulate of adequacy which demands that the scientific second-order constructs are consistent with the common-sense, first-order constructs of the researched actors. Special emphasis is given to a point which has been vastly overlooked in the international literature, namely that ‘adequacy’ also implies that second-order constructs are compatible with phenomenological analyses. Schutz has devoted his whole lifework to the goal of creating an adequate foundation of the methodology of social sciences. His ‘structures of the life-world’ serve as a protosociology, and his methodological postulates must be interpreted in this context. Phenomenology argues that interpretive qualitative research is not simply a set of techniques but a theoretically driven enterprise. The pivotal question is how researchers deal with sense and meaning. Phenomenology has not produced a specific research design but is compatible with different research designs. It allows, however, to assess the (in)adequacy of concrete designs.
Authors Eberle, Thomas S.
Editors Flick, Uwe
Language English
Keywords Phenomenology, life-world, phenomenological life-world analysis, structures of the life-world, first- and second-order constructs, postulate of subjective interpretation, postulate of adequacy, interpretive methods, protosociology, sociology of knowledge
Subjects social sciences
HSG Classification contribution to scientific community
Date 2022
Publisher Sage
Place of Publication London and New York
Page Range 107-126
Number of Pages 20
Title of Book The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research Design
ISBN 9781526484321
Publisher DOI
Contact Email Address
Depositing User Anonymous Anonymous
Date Deposited 14 Jan 2023 12:43
Last Modified 28 Feb 2023 12:42


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Eberle, Thomas S.: Phenomenology: Alfred Schutz’s Structures of the Life-World and Their Implications. In Flick, Uwe (ed.): The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research Design. London and New York : Sage, 2022, S. 107-126.

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