On Phenomenological Sociology

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ON PHENOMENOLOGICAL SOCIOLOGY [1] james L. heap and phillip A. roth University of British Columbia American Sociological Review 1973, Vol. 38 (June): 354-367 The works of Tiryakian, Bruyn and Douglas are examined as representative of "phenomenological sociology." Radical problems are discovered in their use of key concepts in phenomenology: intention, reduction, phenomenon and essence. These problems are shown to arise out of a failure to grasp the nature of the phenomenological enterprise and its relationship to sociology. Turning back to the original formulation of this relationship by Husserl, we discover problems of transcendental intersubjectivity, of type and essence, and of objectivism. We then point out the existence of sociologies which do not share the shortcomings of what is called phenomenological sociology, yet which make use of the perspective and approach of phenomenology. We then focus on one of these sociologies, ethnomethodology in its relation to phenomenology. We find parallels in their methodology and domains of inquiry, and divergency in their approaches to intersubjectivity. There is increasing interest in something called "phenomenological sociology." If this interest is to be sustained, indeed if this sub-discipline is to contribute to our knowledge of the social world, we must become clear on what phenomenological sociology is and can become. At present serious problems exist in the writings of many sociologists who have contributed to, and implicitly defined, this approach to sociology. In general, they display only a metaphorical understanding of phenomenology as a philosophy and as a set of methods. In addition, and partly as a result, they fail to understand the relationship between sociology and phenomenology. However, if we go back to Edmund Husserl's original formulation of the relationship, we once again face serious

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