Sociology BA LLB for Sociology Notes

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Alfred Schutz : Phenomenology

Typification is the process in which the people make sense of the world. Typification is well explained in First Order and Human Action.

Making sense of the world.

First Order
First Order deals with how consciousness is developed in individuals.

  1. Experience of different events. Experience have been defined by Schutz as “Knowledge at hand”.
  2. Classification of experience (good action, bad action, efficient action, ineffective action).
  3. Choosing relevant experience to achieve one’s goal. This process is called “SYSTEM OF RELEVANCE”.
  4. Perception: Perception involves the use of previous knowledge and use of imagination to understand a situation. For example: If I see a something that looks like a book then I use my past experience of seeing books and then also imagine that what I am now seeing could be book. The imagination part involves guess work. When the guess is tested ( falsified or proven ) then perception takes place. Perception is:
  • Use of past experience
  • Use of imagination
  • Test of guess
  • Falsified or proving of the guess work we did in our mind.

5. Interpretation: The experience may be same but interpretation of the experience is different among different people. For example: Mr. X and Mrs. Y were both bitten by a dog. Mr. X. when he saw a dog near his house he interpreted it as a a danger and was afraid. Mrs. Y on the other hand when she saw a dog outside her house she thought that the dog that bit her in the past and the dog outside her house is different hence she gave food to the dog without being afraid. Experience may be the same (bitten by a dog ) but interpretation people make will be different.

6. The plan of future action is defined by Schutz as “Purpose at hand”.

Second Order
Understanding the process of ‘First Order’ during research.

Social Science and Phenomenology

  1. ‘Research Objects’ or people being studied for the research are themselves ‘interpreting’ and making sense’ of the world in their own way. Researcher must understand this.
  2. The research becomes more complex because the process of ‘making sense’ among the research object is ongoing/continuous.
  3. Researcher needs to understand the individual and social experience of ‘research objects’. This is again an ongoing process.
  4. Schutz argues that researcher needs to also study the ‘meaning’ that actions have for the ‘research objects’.
  5. Unlike other research the phenomenology guided research sees the world as not something ‘concrete, fixed and real’ but as something that has ‘always changing meanings and meaning with diversity’.
  6. There is a danger that the researcher may use his own experience to understand the views of the ‘research objects’. This will not help the researcher to understand the world in a proper manner. To address this problem A. Schutz argues that the researcher needs to use ‘Bracketing’. Bracketing’ is a process in which the researcher suspend his knowledge. Not to forget that knowledge comes from experience.

Ideal Citizen (Also called well-informed citizen)

  1. Ideal Citizens are those imaginary citizens who are well-informed about
    • Politics
    • Economics
    • And above all their constitutional rights.
  2. The Ideal Citizens studies the sources of their information and the information itself to be better informed so that they can fully participate in democratic process of their country.
  3. Ideal Citizen’s power lies in her access to information.
  4. Schutz compares this Ideal Citizen with other people. In this comparison he finds that normal human beings are in many ways like his Ideal Citizen because:
  • Every person seeks as much information as she can have access with.
  • For example a car mechanic will try to get as much information about car maintenance as possible.
  • Mechanic will get information from different source but he will only collect those information that are from the relevant and reliable source.
  • Mechanic like the Ideal Citizen will study the information in such a way that he will classify it into useful and useless category.
  • Among the useful category of information he will further extract the essential information.

Human Action
Human Action according to Schutz takes places by following the pattern given below:

1. Motives: a person thinks of achieving something (for example students wants to pass exam).
2. Project: This is called the rehearsal of action. In project the person mentally imagines of performing the future action. For example a boy friends imagines that when he meets his girlfriend then he will tell her a joke to impress her.
3. Project testing: When the boyfriends meets his girlfriend he tells her the joke but she instead of being impressed with the boy gives a tight slap to him. This is called falsified project. If she had smiled then it would have been called successful.
4. Repetition: If the project testing is successful then the person will repeat the same action and this repetition becomes what Schutz calls Common sense.

Confusion: Schutz argued that common sense has its own limitations because no two events are exactly the same. The success in one event does not guarantee the success in the similar other events. For example the joke that caused the girlfriend of Mr. X to slap him in 1999 does not guarantee that it will also cause every girl to react in the same way. Because of this the people who think deeply will not always trust their ‘experience’. This is confusion.

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