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06.03.2019 | Theoretical/Philosophical Paper

Alfred Schutz’s Fragments on Social Roles as a Phenomenological Alternate to Mainstream Sociology

Zeitschrift:
Human Studies
Autor:
Carlos Belvedere
Wichtige Hinweise
I am indebted to two anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments, which helped me substantially improve the first draft of this paper.

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Abstract

My aim is to collect and consider as a whole Schutz’s fragments on the sociology of roles. With this goal, I will classify the fragments into two sets according to their theoretical intention. First, I will consider Schutz’s discussion of Parsons’ theory of social action of the 1940s. I will show that Schutz focuses on criticizing Parsons’ objectivism and on retrieving the concrete ego as the performer of social roles. Second, I will account for Schutz’s intent to elaborate on a terminology of his own concerning these issues in the 1950s. I will argue that Schutz bases his theory of social roles in his phenomenology of the life-world. This not only requires a subjective approach—which he had already provided in the 1940s—but also requires taking into account objective meaning. Other elements of Schutzian phenomenology must be called in as well, such as the relative natural conception of the world of groups, socioculturally derived knowledge, and imposed relevances. I will end by discussing the main contributions of Schutz’s conception of social roles and to what extent he succeeded in overcoming the objectivism of structural-functional theory.

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