Human Studies

, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 179–197 | Cite as

Science and Life-World: Husserl, Schutz, Garfinkel

  • Lucia Ruggerone
Theoretical/Philosophical Paper


In this article I intend to explore the conception of science as it emerges from the work of Husserl, Schutz, and Garfinkel. By concentrating specifically on the issue of science, I attempt to show that Garfinkel’s views on the relationship between science and the everyday world are much closer to Husserl’s stance than to the Schutzian perspective. To this end, I explore Husserl’s notion of science especially as it emerges in the Crisis of European Sciences, where he describes the failure of European science and again preaches for a return to the “things themselves”. In this respect I interpret ethnomethodology’s most recent program as an answer to that call originating from a sociological domain. I then argue that the Husserlian turn within ethnomethodology marks the split between Garfinkel and Schutz. In fact I try to show that Schutz’s epistemological work is only partially inspired by phenomenology and that his conception of science retains a rationalist stance that ethnomethodology opposes. In the final section I briefly discuss Garfinkel’s most recent program as a way of closing the gap between theory and experience by linking the topics of science to the radical experiential phenomena.


Science Social sciences Life-world Phenomenology Ethnomethodology Experience Theory 


  1. Arp, R. (2004). Husserl and the Penetrability of the Trascendental and Mundane Spheres. Human Studies, 27(3), 221–239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bauman, Z. (1992). Intimations of Postmodernity. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. Bjelic, D. (1996). Lebesnwelt structures of Galilean physics: The case of Galileo’s pendulum. Human Studies, 19(4), 409–432.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bjelic, D. (2003). Galileo’s pendulum: Science, sexuality, and the body-instrument Link. New York: Suny Press.Google Scholar
  5. Chojnacki, M. (2004). Herbert Spiegelberg and Alfred Schutz: Some Affinities. Human Studies, 27(2), 169–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Costelloe, T. M. (1996). Subject and sociology: Alfred Schutz’s phenomenology of the life-world. Human Studies, 19(3), 247–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cussins, A. (2002). Experience, thought and activity. In Y. Gunther (Ed.), Essays on nonconceptual content (pp. 133–163). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  8. Fele, G. (2008). The Phenomenal Field: Ethnomethodological Perspectives on Collective Phenomena. Human Studies, 31(3), 299–322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Garfinkel, H. (1967). Studies in ethnomethodology. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  10. Garfinkel, H. (2002). Ethnomethodology’s program: Working out Durkheim’s aphorism. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  11. Garfinkel, H., & Liberman, K. (2007). The Lebenswelt origins of the sciences. Human Studies, 30, 2–7.Google Scholar
  12. Garfinkel, H., & Sacks, H. (1970). On formal structures of practical actions. In J. McKinney & E. Tiryakian (Eds.), Theoretical sociology: Perspectives and developments (pp. 337–366). New York: Merdith.Google Scholar
  13. Garfinkel, H., & Wieder, L. (1992). Two incommensurable, asymmetrically alternate technologies of social analysis. In G. Watson & R. M. Seiler (Eds.), Text in context: Studies in ethnomethodology (pp. 175–206). Newbury Park: Sage.Google Scholar
  14. Giddens, A. (1976). New rules of sociological method: A positive critique of interpretative sociologies. London: Hutchinson.Google Scholar
  15. Gurwitsch, A. (1964). The field of consciousness. Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Husserl, E. (1970). The Crisis of European sciences and trascendental phenomenology: An introduction to phenomenological philosophy. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Husserl, E. (1983). Ideas pertaining to a pure phenomenology and to a phenomenological philosophy. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  18. Knudsen, C. (2004). Alfred Schutz, Austrian economists and the knowledge problem. Rationality and Society, 16(1), 45–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Liberman, K. (2011). Garfinkel o del rigore intellettuale senza compromessi. Quaderni di Teoria Sociale, 11, 103–152.Google Scholar
  20. Lynch, M. (1993). Scientific practice and ordinary action. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  21. Lynch, M. (1999). Silence in context: Ethnomethodology and social theory. Human Studies, 22(2/4), 211–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lynch, M. (2004). Misreading Schutz: a Response to Dennis on ‘Lynch on Schutz on Science’. Theory & Science.Google Scholar
  23. Lynch, M. (2012). Revisiting the Cultural Dope. Human Studies, Published online: 03 May 2012.Google Scholar
  24. Lyotard, F. (1984). The postmodern condition: A report on knowledge. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  25. McLain, R. (1981) The postulate of adequacy: Phenomenological sociology and the paradox of science and sociality. Human Studies 4(2), 105–130.Google Scholar
  26. Merleau Ponty, M. (1962). Phenomenology of perception. New York: Humanities Press.Google Scholar
  27. Prendergast, C. (1986). Alfred Schutz and the Austrian school of economics. American Journal of Sociology, 92(1), 1–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Psathas, G. (2005). The ideal type in Weber and Schutz. In E. Martin, G. Psathas, & H. Nasu (Eds.), Explorations of the life-world (pp. 143–169). Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Rooke, J., & Kagioglou, M. (2007). Criteria for evaluating research: the unique adequacy requirement of methods. Construction Management and Economics, 25(9), 979–987.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Ruggerone, L. (2000). Parlare per vivere: Linguaggio ed esperienza nell’etnometodologia. Milano: Franco Angeli.Google Scholar
  31. Schutz, A. (1932). Der Sinnhafte Aufbau der Sozialen Welt. Wien: Springer (Engl. trans. The phenomenology of the social world. Evanston: Nortwestern University Press, 1967).Google Scholar
  32. Schutz, A. (1945). On multiple realities. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 5(4), 533–576.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Schutz, A. (1953). Common-sense and scientific interpretations of human action. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 14(1), 1–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Schutz, A. (1962). Collected papers (Vol. 1). The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  35. Sebald, G. (2011). Crossing the Finite Provinces of Meaning. Experience and Metaphor. Human Studies, 34(4), 341–352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Weber, M. (1949). The methodology of social sciences. Glencoe, IL: Free Press.Google Scholar
  37. Wittgenstein, L. (1953). Philosophical investigations. New York: MacMillan.Google Scholar
  38. Zaner, R. (1961). Theory of intersubjectivity: Alfred Schutz. Social Research, 28, 71–93.Google Scholar
  39. Zaret, D. (1980). From Weber to Parsons and Schutz: The eclipse of history in modern social theory. American Journal of Sociology, 85(5), 1180–1201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Zimmerman, D., & Pollner, M. (1970). The everyday world as a phenomenon. In J. D. Douglas (Ed.), Undertsanding everyday life: Towards a reconstruction of sociological knowledge (pp. 80–103). London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economic and Political StudiesUniversità della Valle d’AostaSt. ChristopheItaly

Personalised recommendations