Approaches to the study of the world of everyday life

Human Studies 3 (1):3 - 17 (1980)
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I have only begun to sketch out some of the differences between the work of Harold Garfinkel and Alfred Schutz. As the work of ethnomethodology accumulates and as other commentators begin to explore their similarities and differences, a clearer picture will, I am certain, emerge. For now, I shall only conclude with the following brief summary.As Natanson (1966, p. 152) has noted, “for Schutz, mundane existence is structured by the typifications of man in the natural standpoint. Common sense is then an achievement rather than something simply given.” The main issues with which Schutz was concerned were how to investigate social reality and comprehend it (Natanson, 1966): …in terms which do not violate its character. How is warranted knowledge possible of the experiential world defined by the natural standpoint? The answer Schutz offers is by way of a reconstruction of the typifications of mundane life, but the underlying theme he is exploring is the intentional nature of consciousness in its abstractive and ideational modalities. Typification as such, rather than types and constructs, is the underlying concern. By tracing out the phenomenological genesis of typification from its prepredicative grounds to its self-conscious activity in generalization, he has provided an approach to an epistemology of the social world. [p. 154]Garfinkel, on the other hand, seeks to trace out the genesis of the perception, interpretation, and accomplishment of social occasions and their settings by members of society as they live and operate within the natural attitude in the world of everyday life. Their activities are taken without question as whatever social reality is for them. The processes whereby they accomplish these activities so as to make them recognizable become his main concern and it is the discovery and reconstruction of these processes, under the ethnomethodological reduction, of which his findings consist. By describing the methods used by members, he provides an approach to the methodology of the social world, that is, an ethno or members' methodology, for the construction, interpretation, and recognition of the social world



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