Mee Pha Blog 1: Schutz and Berger and Luckmann

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Schutz, Berger and Luckmann, were micro-sociologists. They found importance in social interactions between humans, meanings, and lived experiences. These sociologists approached sociology in a very Weberian way. They saw the importance of the individual and how he can act on society.

At the beginning of The Phenomenology of the Social World, Schutz outlines a few ambiguities for understanding another person: intentional acts, one's subjective experience, motivation-contexts, and understanding signs. Shutz looked from the individual to the bigger social world when he created his phenomenology. By looking at how individuals understand others' social actions, it is a way to study our social world. Schutz draws from Weber's theories. The two theorists emphasized understanding and context of situations, because those two things can change the whole situation. Schutz gives the example of a wood cutter. By simply observing the wood cutter, a person can assume that he is "cutting wood." However "why" he is cutting wood is not as obvious. Schutz posits two ways of interpreting this action without actually talking with the wood cutter, by putting yourself in the other person's shoes or by drawing from personal experience. Verstehen tells the person to do the same thing. Both theories look at the meaning as well as the individual's experience . Schutz goes further from just understanding motives and separates subjective and objective meanings in his example of the wood cutter.

Berger and Luckmann also believed that the individual experience and interaction was important in forming our society. In the reading they talk about institutions and how they came to be. Berger and Luckmann wrote that our realties are socially constructed. Therefore different realities exist depending on where and how one is socialized. Warring states is an example of multiple realities. In war, there are two sides, each who think they are in the right. Depending on where you live, your reality is different. One example of this is the "war on terrorism." The September 11th attacks on the United States was a devastating event to American citizens. For Al Qaeda, it was a victory. Here, good and evil is blurred. Depending on which side you were on, September 11th had a different meaning to you. The realities of the people involved were also different. Neither side is "wrong" in how they viewed their position because of their histories. The United State's reality is that terrorists are evil and should be eliminated before they commit more wrong doings. For Al Qaeda, they are preserving and spreading the rule of Islam. There are even more realities beyond the scope of these two actors in this place and time. Given this model, Schutz phenomenology proves to be important in analyzing each society to understand the motives and relationships that have led to each social world.

Berger and Luckmann believed language was important because it is a tool for socialization and habitualization. It facilitates the interaction of people in a way that both people understand and can comprehend. Language makes it easier to pass down traditions and beliefs to new generations, which makes it easier to institutionalize things. Schutz also believed that language was important in his work. Language is an important sign however it can also be interpreted in a lot of ways so, knowing a person personally makes it easier to understand the language of that other person. All forms of communication are open to interpretation especially when seeking to fully understand the social world.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Mee Pha published on March 18, 2012 10:05 PM.

Jaimie Berger Blog Post #2- Berger & Luckmann was the previous entry in this blog.

Blog Post #3: Schutz and Berger & Luckmann is the next entry in this blog.

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