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13-11-2020 | Theoretical / Philosophical Paper | Issue 4/2020

Human Studies 4/2020

The Significance of Mobility in Alfred Schutz’s Theory of Action

Journal:
Human Studies > Issue 4/2020
Author:
Simon Lafontaine
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Abstract

Mobility has become a central topic of contemporary social research with the mobility turn initiated in the 2000s. In order to grasp the complexity of the global order, its authors have attempted to decenter the importance of human subjectivity and to envisage a “sociology beyond societies”. The present paper considers this interpretive context to demonstrate the contemporary relevance of Alfred Schutz’s theory of action, and to propose a notion of mobility intrinsically linked to the performance of subjectivity. By revisiting the distinction between action as a thing produced and as an ongoing process, the notion of mobility is detailed in relation to movement in space and to the subjective flow of time. The specific type of action Schutz calls “locomotion” in his later work enables us to understand how action involves bodily operations in configuring a common space of sociality and communication. I conclude by going beyond the explanation of action in terms of its starting point and end point, and by assessing how action unfolds through the experiential life of the subject, with its new meanings and unexpected changes.

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