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Phenomenological Sociology

  Phenomenological sociology is a school of thought which is derived from phenomenological philosophy (see consciousness), especially from the work of Alfred Schutz (1899 - 1959). The main focus of this branch of sociology is everyday life and its associated states of consciousness. Unlike other schools of thought in sociology (for example positivism), phenomenological sociology denies any influence of the wider social structure in influencing human behaviour. Proponents of this school take issue with the assumption that human beings are formed by social forces rather than creating those forces themselves in the first instance. Phenomenologists argue that the job of phenomenological analysis is to show how the everyday world, which is ordinarily taken for granted, is made up. Phemonenological study is carried out by ‘bracketing off’ any assumptions about the causal powers of social structure.

The best-known sociological study, influenced by phenomenology, is Berger and Luckmann\'s The Social Construction of Reality (1967). This argues that knowledge is socially constructed and is directed towards the resolution of practical problems. In this sense, then, no social facts can be thought of as neutral, rather they reflect the purposes for which they were acquired.

Phenomenology has been subjected to extensive criticism. It has been argued that it deals with trivial topics, is purely descriptive and neglects the notion of social structure. Nevertheless it has been influential in certain spheres. The emphasis given to common-sense knowledge has influenced the development of ethnomethodology in particular. DA

See also action perspective; functionalism; idiographic; individualism; microsociology; naturalism; social construction of reality; sociology of knowledge; structure-agency debate; symbolic interactionism; understanding.Further reading K.H. Wolff, ‘Phenomenology And Sociology’ in , T.B. Bottomore and , R. Nisbet (eds.), A History of Sociological Analysis.



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