The Meaning of Meaning in Sociology. The Achievements and Shortcomings of Alfred Schutz's Phenomenological Sociology

Phenomenological sociology was founded at the beginning of 1930s by Alfred Schutz. His mundane phenomenology sought to combine impulses drawn from Husserl's transcendental phenomenology and Weber's action theory. It was made famous at the turn of 1960s and 1970s by Garfinkel's ethnomethodology and Berger & Luckmann's social constructionism. This paper deals with the notable accomplishments of Schutz and his followers and then proceeds to a shared shortcoming, which is that the phenomenological approach is unable to understand meaning in any other way but as actors's knowledge. Therefore, phenomenological sociologists are forced to describe the actor's interpretations of meaning as transparent to the actor him/herself, even if they sometimes make heroic attempts to escape the limitations of the phenomenological conception. The limitation is apparent in Husserl's and Schutz's definition of meaning as a “reflective intentional act”, Garfinkel's use of the term “accounting” to refer to a signifying effect, and the way Berger and Luckmann describe their social theory as “sociology of knowledge”. Today, similar confusions are present in Michael Polanyi's “tacit knowledge”and in Giddens' structuration theory
Keywords social constructionism  meaning  phenomenological sociology  structuration theory  action  agency  etnomethodology  culture
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/j.1468-5914.2011.00461.x
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 23,217
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

View all 29 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

25 ( #189,872 of 1,940,864 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

2 ( #334,046 of 1,940,864 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.