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The concept of the lifeworld denotes the human world in its pre-scientific naturalness and experience, in contrast to the theoretically determined scientific worldview. It achieved importance primarily in the phenomenology of Husserl and in his sociological interpretation by Alfred Schütz and later by Jürgen Habermas . The concept of lifeworld is currently used in constructivist theoretical approaches or reformulated such as B. at Jürgen Mittelstraß or Björn Kraus .

First uses

The concept of the lifeworld has its origins in the second third of the 19th century. Heinrich Heine already used it in 1836 in his Florentine Nights . Later, the term becomes particularly relevant in biology and botany, before it then begins his career in philosophy, u. a. with Karl Joël and Rudolf Eucken . Ernst Troeltsch uses the concept of the lifeworld in a religious-philosophical way. He speaks of the "Christian lifeworld", which is supposed to convey the traditional belief in revelation with the historical manifestations of Christian-religious life. The term is particularly characteristic of the philosophy of life ( G. Simmel , W. Dilthey ). Hans Freyer spoke of the "a priori facts of the lifeworld". Martin Heidegger used the term in his early lectures. while it no longer occurs in being and time . The conceptual equivalent here is “being-in-the-world” as the “basic constitution of existence”.


In the context of Husserl's phenomenology, the concept of the lifeworld becomes a central subject of philosophy.

Husserl developed the term in his work The Crisis of the European Sciences and the Transcendental Phenomenology as part of his reflections on the general “Crisis of the European Sciences”. In the fully elaborated version, which was only published posthumously, there is the chapter “The way into the phenomenological transcendental philosophy in the inquiry from the given lifeworld.” According to Husserl, the positive sciences blinded people in the second half of the 19th century the economic and technical prosperity owed to them. At the turn of the century, on the other hand, there was a general revaluation, an increasing criticism of these sciences, which turned away from those questions that "are decisive for real humanity":

In our life's need - so we hear - this science has nothing to say to us. In principle, she excludes precisely those questions which are the burning ones for people exposed to the most fateful upheavals in our unhappy times: the questions about the meaning or futility of this whole human existence.

Husserl sees the cause of this crisis in the fact that it has been forgotten that all science is based on the lifeworld. The lifeworld is the natural, unquestioned ground for all everyday actions and thinking as well as all scientific theorizing and philosophizing. It is the "primordial sphere" - not only because it existed without the modern conception of science with its objective concept of truth, but also because many of the lifeworld senses and validities must necessarily be assumed for any scientific argument.

Husserl uses the term lifeworld in an ambiguous sense: on the one hand, he means the universe of the self-evident, as the anthropological foundation of every determination of man's relationship to the world, and on the other hand, he describes the practical, vivid and concrete lifeworld. This ambiguity encompasses the concept of lifeworld in the contrast between the historical and the historically changeable, the universal and the concrete, between the singular and the historically diverse. It thus becomes the basis of criticism and the object of enlightenment at the same time.

The lifeworld as the unchangeable world of perception of objective beings is opposed to the socio-historical-cultural environment shaped by humans.


On this basis, different meanings of the term developed, especially through its transference and application in sociology . The lifeworld can epistemologically have an ontological meaning or it can designate the world that we experience individually, the area of ​​self-evident, traditional action, work or a comprehensive historically given socio-cultural environment. In terms of the sociology of knowledge , the lifeworld can also be viewed as the basis for any science and can either be examined in terms of its structure as the underlying historical lifeworlds or it can be structured as a culturally pre-formed world of senses shared by all people.


Alfred Schütz draws on Husserl's concept of the lifeworld and introduces the concept for sociological analysis. The original ambiguity continues in his everyday concept. The everyday , the world of "everyone" is to be understood as the "paramount reality" (contactor), lives in every person thinks, acts and agreed with others. The everyday world is simply given to everyone and is accepted without question and as a matter of course, it is the unquestioned ground of all events. From the beginning, the everyday world is an intersubjective cultural world, in which all facts are always already interpreted facts that refer to contexts of meaning and interpretation patterns that enable experience and action in the everyday world. Schütz describes the experience of everyday understanding as "common sense", life in the "natural setting".

Everyday or lifeworld is to be understood here on the one hand as a culturally formed world of meaning and on the other hand as the basis of every perception and understanding of a socio-culturally given environment and thus also of the knowledge base developed therein. Everyday life is thus both the subject of the Enlightenment and the ontological basis of the criticism of special knowledge stocks.


Communication-theoretical interpretation of the lifeworld

Jürgen Habermas criticizes the phenomenological conception of the lifeworld that it relates to an "egological consciousness" and thus extends the paradigm of the philosophy of the subject . With a communication-theoretical interpretation of the concept of lifeworld, Habermas wants to bring out its real meaning: the paradigm shift from monological subjectivity to dialogical intersubjectivity . He reformulated the concept of the lifeworld as follows:

As speaker and listener communicate with each other head-on about something in a world, they move within the horizon of their common living environment; that remains behind the participants as an intuitively known, unproblematic and indivisible holistic background. [...] The lifeworld can only be viewed a tergo. From the frontal perspective of the subjects themselves acting in an understanding-oriented manner, the lifeworld, which is always only given along, must evade thematization. As a totality that enables the identities and biographical blueprints of groups and individuals, it is only present in a pre-reflective manner. From the perspective of those involved, the practically used rule-based knowledge, sedimented in utterances, can be reconstructed, but not the receding context and the resources of the lifeworld as a whole that remain behind.

Habermas distinguishes three aspects of the lifeworld, which appear as culture, society and personality, depending on the action or speech situation. Habermas defines these three aspects of the living environment as follows:

I call culture the store of knowledge from which the communication participants, by communicating about something in a world, supply themselves with interpretations. Society I call the legitimate orders through which the communication participants regulate their membership in social groups and thus ensure solidarity. Under personality I understand the competencies that language- a subject and making capable of acting, so repair to participate in communication processes and to maintain its own identity.

For those taking part in communication, the lifeworld functions as “the transcendental place where speaker and listener meet; where they can reciprocally claim that their utterances fit together with the world [...]; and where they can criticize and confirm these validity claims, express their dissent and obtain consent ”.

Living environment and communicative action

For Habermas, the living environment and communicative action are dialectically related:

By communicating with one another about their situation, the participants in the interaction stand in a cultural tradition which they use and renew at the same time; in that the participants in the interaction coordinate their actions via the intersubjective recognition of criticizable validity claims, they rely on belonging to social groups and at the same time affirm their integration; By taking part in interactions with competent caregivers, the adolescents internalize the value orientations of their social group and acquire generalized action skills.

Communicative action thus serves the transmission of cultural knowledge and its renewal in the area of ​​culture, social integration and the creation of solidarity in the area of ​​society and the formation of personal identities in the area of ​​the person. The “reproduction of the lifeworld” consists of a dialectical unity of continuity and rupture; H. in "a continuation and renewal of tradition that moves between the extremes of the mere continuation of and a break with traditions."

Lifeworld in constructivism

Methodical-constructivist concept of the lifeworld

In methodical constructivism , Jürgen Mittelstraß's concept of the lifeworld was taken up more in the sense of Husserl than the "lifeworld a priori", which inevitably exists both genetically and logically and methodologically before any development of reality and is therefore the basis of all exact sciences. The concept of the lifeworld is taken up again in methodical culturalism , for which it describes the generally recognized pre-scientific linguistic and action practice. According to this, the lifeworld is a section of the found world that is relevant for the practical context in the respective work and action system . The world of a miner has different connections than that of a farmer or that of a doctor.

Systemic-constructivist or relational-constructivist concept of the lifeworld

The systemic-constructivist or relational-constructivist concept of the lifeworld according to Björn Kraus also takes into account its phenomenological roots ( Husserl and Schütz), takes them up and, however, continues them within the framework of epistemological-constructivist theories. An approach is designed that not only takes into account the perspective of an egological concept of the lifeworld, but also takes into account the relevance of social and material environmental conditions emphasized by Habermas. The basis for this is the central assumption at Kraus of a fundamental double bond in human structural development .

"On the one hand, the reality of every person's life is their subjective construct; on the other hand, this construct is not arbitrary, but - with all subjectivity - due to the structural coupling of the person to his environment - influenced and limited by the framework conditions of this environment."

Building on this understanding, a separation of individual perception and the social and material framework can be made. For the relational-constructivist concretization of the lifeworld concept, Kraus takes up the concept of the situation in life and contrasts the two concepts.

“In this respect (...) the lifeworld is on the one hand an unavoidable subjective category, which on the other hand is subject to the conditions of the living situation due to the structural coupling. Specifically, a person's life situation includes their material and immaterial equipment. This includes not only the general conditions in terms of material equipment, living space, financial resources, etc. E., But also the intangible equipment, such as the available social network. In addition, the equipment of his organism belongs to the situation in life; so his physical condition would also be a condition of the living situation. The perception of these conditions, on the other hand, defines a person's living environment. "

Kraus uses the constructivist distinction between reality and reality . “One is the subjective construction under the conditions of the other. In other words: The lifeworld is just as much the subjective construction of a person as reality and this subjective construction takes place under the conditions of the living situation or reality. ” In the systemic-constructivist understanding proposed here, the terms lifeworld and living situation can be used as their perceptible conditions can be determined as follows: “The social, ecological and organismic living conditions of a person are considered to be living conditions. The life world is the subjective construction of reality of a person (which he forms under the conditions of his life situation). "

This contrasting juxtaposition provides a conceptual clarification and, in a first step, makes it possible to conceptually differentiate the subjective world of experience from its material and social conditions, and then in a second step to examine the relevance of these conditions for the subjective construction of reality.

In this sense, Manfred Ferdinand, in his examination of the lifeworld concepts in Schütz, Husserl, Kraus and Wittgenstein, comes to the conclusion: Kraus' “remarks on a constructivist understanding of lifeworlds now profile the micro-, meso- and macroscopic integration called for by Invernizzi and Butterwege Approaches: This integration is not only necessary in order to relate the subjective perspectives and the objective framework conditions to one another, but because the objective framework conditions only acquire their relevance to the subjective life worlds in their subjective perception and evaluation. "

See also


Primary literature

  • Jürgen Habermas: Theory of communicative action (Vol. 1: Action rationality and social rationalization ; Volume 2: On the critique of functionalist reason ), Frankfurt am Main 1981, ISBN 3-518-28775-3 .
  • Jürgen Habermas: The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity. Frankfurt am Main 1988, ISBN 3-518-28349-9 .
  • Edmund Husserl: The crisis of European humanity and philosophy. (Lecture in Vienna 1935) (Husserliana Volume VI pp. 314–348).
  • Edmund Husserl: Cartesian meditations and Paris lectures . Edited by S. Strasser. The Hague 1950 (Husserliana Volume 1).
  • Edmund Husserl: The crisis of the European sciences and the transcendental phenomenology . The Hague 1954 (Husserliana Volume VI).
  • Edmund Husserl: Phenomenology of the lifeworld . Selected texts Volume II. Stuttgart 1986.
  • Edmund Husserl: work on the phenomena . Selected Writings. Edited and with an afterword by Bernhard Waldenfels. Frankfurt am Main 1993.
  • Björn Kraus: Lifeworld and lifeworld orientation. A conceptual revision as an offer to a systemic-constructivist social work science. In: context. Journal of Systemic Therapy and Family Therapy. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen issue 37/02, pp. 116–129. Available online
  • Björn Kraus: Power - Help - Control. Foundations and extensions of a systemic-constructivist power model. In: Björn Kraus, Wolfgang Krieger (Hrsg.): Power in social work - interaction relationships between control, participation and release. 4. revised u. exp. Edition. Jacobs, Lage 2016, pp. 101–130. Available online
  • Björn Kraus: Recognize and decide. Basics and consequences of an epistemological constructivism for social work. Beltz Juventa, Weinheim u. Basel 2013.
  • Björn Kraus: Relational Constructivism - Relational Social Work. From the systemic-constructivist lifeworld orientation to a relational theory of social work. Weinheim: Beltz / Juventa 2019.
  • Alfred Schütz: The meaningful structure of the social world. An introduction to understanding sociology . Frankfurt am Main 1974.
  • Alfred Schütz, Thomas Luckmann: Structures of the lifeworld . Darmstadt / Neuwied 1975. (New edition: Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1979)

Secondary literature

  • Christian Bermes : Lebenswelt (1836–1936). From the microscopy of life to the staging of experience. In: Archive for the history of concepts. 44, 2002, pp. 175-197.
  • Hans Blumenberg : Living environment and mechanization under aspects of phenomenology. In: Realities in which we live. Stuttgart 1981 (Turin 1963).
  • Hans Blumenberg: Lifetime and Universal Time. Frankfurt am Main 1986.
  • Gerd Brand : The living environment. A philosophy of the concrete a priori . de Gruyter, Berlin 1971, ISBN 3-11-006420-0 .
  • Joachim Bröcher: Living Environment and Didactics. Lessons with young people with behavioral problems based on their (everyday) aesthetic productions . University Press Winter, Heidelberg 1997.
  • Herman Coenen: This side of subjective meaning and collective compulsion. Schütz - Durkheim - Merleau-Ponty. Phenomenological sociology in the field of interpersonal behavior . Munich 1985.
  • Ferdinand Fellmann : Philosophy lived in Germany. Forms of thought of lifeworld phenomenology and critical theory . Karl Alber, Freiburg i. Br./ Munich 1983, ISBN 3-495-47524-9 .
  • Albrecht Geck: Church history and lifeworld. In: Michael Wermke et al. (Hrsg.): Religion in the secondary level II. A compendium. Göttingen 2006, pp. 263-270.
  • Carl Friedrich Gethmann (Ed.): Lifeworld and Science . XXI. German Congress for Philosophy (Essen 2008). German Yearbook Philosophy 2. Meiner, Hamburg 2011, ISBN 978-3-7873-1943-5 All contributions to the colloquia of the congress as well as the public lectures by Jürgen Habermas , Wolfram Hogrebe and Julian Nida-Rümelin .
  • Richard Grathoff : Milieu and living environment. Introduction to phenomenological sociology and social phenomenological research . Frankfurt am Main 1989.
  • Peter Kiwitz: The world and art of living. Perspectives of a critical theory of social life . Munich 1986.
  • Ernst Wolfgang Orth: Edmund Husserl's "Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology". Work interpretation. Darmstadt 1999.
  • Jörg Rössel : From lifestyle to cultural preferences - a suggestion for theoretical reorientation. In: social world. Vol. 55, 2004, no. 1, pp. 95–114 (based on the theory of social action)
  • Manfred Sommer : Living world and time awareness . Frankfurt am Main 1990.
  • Elisabeth Ströker (Hrsg.): Lifeworld and science in the philosophy of Edmund Husserl . Frankfurt am Main 1979.
  • Alexander Ulfig : living environment, reflection, language . Wuerzburg 1997.
  • Bernhard Waldenfels : In the networks of the lifeworld . Frankfurt am Main 1985.
  • Bernhard Waldenfels: The world of life between the everyday and the unusual. In: Pöggeler / Jamme (ed.): Phenomenology in Contrast. On the 50th anniversary of Edmund Husserl's death. Frankfurt am Main 1989.
  • Rüdiger Welter: The concept of the lifeworld. Theories of the pre-theoretical world of experience . Munich 1986.

Web links

Wiktionary: Lebenswelt  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  1. ^ Christian Bermes: Lebenswelt (1836–1936). Archive for Conceptual History 44, 2002, p. 179ff.
  2. Rudolf Eucken: Man and World. A philosophy of life, Leipzig 1918, 346,393
  3. ^ Ernst Troeltsch: The social doctrines of the Christian churches, 3rd edition. Mohr-Siebeck, Tübingen 1923, p. VIII
  4. ^ Georg Simmel: The religion. Frankfurt 2nd edition 1912, p. 13.
  5. ^ Hans Freyer: Theory of the objective mind, Leipzig / Berlin 1923, 3rd edition. 1934, pp. 142-155.
  6. Martin Heidegger: Phenomenological interpretations of Aristotle. Introduction to phenomenological research, winter semester 1921/22, GA 61, pp. 6, 96, 115, 146 and 172
  7. Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann: Lebenswelt and In-der-Welt-Sein, in: ders .: Subject and Dasein. Basic concepts of “being and time”. Klostermann, Frankfurt 2004, 44, and Gerd Brand: Die Lebenswelt. A philosophy of the concrete a priori. de Gruyter, Berlin 1971, 118
  8. Edmund Husserl: The crisis of the European sciences and the transcendental phenomenology. An introduction to phenomenological philosophy. Edited by Walter Biemel. Reprint of the 2nd verb. Edition. Leuven 1976 (Husserliana Volume 6 [1954])
  9. a b Husserl: The Crisis of the European Sciences and the Transcendental Phenomenology 1954, p. 4.
  10. ^ Alfred Schütz and Thomas Luckmann: Structures of the lifeworld, Volume 1, 3rd edition. Frankfurt 1988.
  11. Habermas: Theory of communicative action , Volume 2, p. 196.
  12. Jürgen Habermas: The philosophical discourse of modernity. P. 348f.
  13. Habermas: Theory of communicative action , Volume 2, p. 203.
  14. Habermas: Theory of communicative action , Volume 2, p. 209.
  15. Habermas: Theory of communicative action , Volume 2, p. 192.
  16. Habermas: Theory of communicative action , Volume 2, p. 208.
  17. Habermas: Theory of communicative action , Volume 2, p. 210.
  18. See Jürgen Mittelstraß, The Possibility of Science, Frankfurt 1974.
  19. ^ Björn Kraus: Plea for Relational Constructivism and Relational Social Work. in Forum Sozial (2017) 1 pp. 29–35
  20. cf. Björn Kraus: Recognize and decide. Basics and consequences of an epistemological constructivism for social work . Beltz Juventa, Weinheim / Basel 2013, pp. 145 ff.
  21. cf. Björn Kraus: Recognize and decide. Basics and consequences of an epistemological constructivism for social work . Beltz Juventa, Weinheim / Basel 2013, p. 66.
  22. Björn Kraus (2016): Power - Help - Control. Foundation and application of a systemic-constructivist power model. In: Björn Kraus, Wolfgang Krieger (Hrsg.): Power in social work - interaction relationships between control, participation and release. Location: Jacobs pp. 101–130. p. 108.
  23. ^ Björn Kraus: Plea for Relational Constructivism and Relational Social Work. in Forum Sozial (2017) 1 pp. 29–35
  24. Cf. Neurath 1931 / Weisser 1956 in Björn Kraus: Lebenswelt und Lebensweltorientierung - a conceptual revision as an offer to a systemic-constructivist social work science. In: context. Journal of Systemic Therapy and Family Therapy. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen, issue 37/02, 2006, pp. 116–129. Also in the Social Work Science portal under the heading Articles: 2004, p. 7. See also Björn Kraus 2013, p. 143 ff.
  25. cf. Björn Kraus: Recognize and decide. Basics and consequences of an epistemological constructivism for social work . Beltz Juventa, Weinheim / Basel 2013, p. 152. Basic
  26. Björn Kraus: Recognize and Decide. Basics and consequences of an epistemological constructivism for social work . Beltz Juventa, Weinheim / Basel 2013, p. 152.
  27. cf. Björn Kraus: Recognize and decide. Basics and consequences of an epistemological constructivism for social work . Beltz Juventa, Weinheim / Basel 2013, p. 153.
  28. Manfred Ferdinand: Lebenswelten - Lebensschnüren. Heidelberg studies on practical theology .: Lit Verlag: Münster 2014, p. 31.