Phenomenological Sociology

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A phenomenological sociology is a theory of action . It describes a social science that is oriented towards the precise observation and intuitive assembly of social facts , the investigations of which are neither derived from overarching theories nor empirically based on data collection and statistics. The main representatives were Alfred Schütz (1899–1959) and Günther Anders (1902–1992) who emigrated to the United States at the New School for Social Research , Anders also after his return to Vienna in 1950. Independent of one another, they shared a common scientific paradigm , basic structures to work out the everyday worlds .


Alfred Schütz's approach was based on Max Weber'sunderstanding sociology ” and the phenomenological method of the Freiburg philosopher Edmund Husserl (1859–1938). The starting point in the narrower sense was the Husserlian conception of the “world of natural attitudes”, the world of our everyday life, which we all have in common, ie is an intersubjective world.

In Husserl's terminology, it was important to return to "things themselves". The world had to be understood as it was experienced directly by the agent and not through the application of constructed conceptualizations. The concepts that people use to grasp and interpret problems, situations, events, etc. in their everyday life (“first-order constructs”) had to be translated in a further step into “second-order constructs”, into social-scientific theory formation.

In principle, the following principle applies: There are no social structures outside and independent of the interpretative processes in the interaction . The normative paradigm, as it is represented by functionalism , systems theory and behavior theory , is opposed to a fundamental alternative, namely the so-called “ interpretive paradigm”.


In the sociological biography research , the interaction - and the conversation analysis the approaches of Alfred Schutz have been applied fruitful. Phenomenological sociology has contributed just as much to the development of ethnomethodology . It differs from symbolic interactionism in that it emphasizes the character of shared symbols more than “ knowledge ” and the biographical component in the constitution of everyday life .

Topics on which phenomenological sociology works are e.g. B. Perspectives of intersubjectivity , “man” and self concepts, lifeworld as a social world , corporeality and sociality, meaning and appearance , language and human communication as well as institution and history, community as a group of people .


The concept of phenomenological sociology is not accepted everywhere. Instead, it is pointed out that Alfred Schütz wanted to develop the term “understanding sociology” (cf. The sensible structure of the social world , fifth section).


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Logical investigations (Deutschlandfunk)