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Schütz, Alfred (1899–1959)

Elsevier Ltd
DOI: 10.1016/b0-08-043076-7/00333-8
  • Communication
  • Education
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science
  • Social Sciences


Alfred Schütz, born in Vienna, emigrated in 1938 via Paris to New York. He was founder of the phenomenological approach in sociology, which is one of the main paradigms in the interpretative social sciences. Influenced by Max Weber, Henri Bergson, Edmund Husserl, the Austrian School of Economics, and pragmatism, he formulated a theory of the life world and its structures showing how actors produce and understand social reality in everyday interaction and communication. His concepts initiated inquiry into the everyday life of societies (sociology of everyday life) and were crucial for the origin and further development of numerous sociological disciplines (ethnomethodology, cognitive sociology, sociology of knowledge, sociology of language). The findings stemming from his theory of the life world entered into the mainstream of sociological theory and his methodological suggestions sparked innovations in the field of qualitative methods of social research. Beyond sociology, his ideas were conceived predominantly in the fields of philosophy, education, social geography, and politics.

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