Phenomenological Sociologists Study Essay

1333 words - 5 pages

Phenomenology is a more recent theory which is still rejected by many in the field of Sociology. Phenomenological sociologists study how people define their social situations once they have learned cultural notions. The idea behind this theory is that everyday reality is a socially constructed set of ideas that have accumulated over time and is often taken for granted by the members of the group. The history of phenomenological sociology is the work of German philosopher Edmund Husserl, in which he describes this theory as interest in things that can be taken in by one’s senses; thus, “we can never know more about things than what we experience directly through our senses” (Wallace & Wolf 2008:263).
Under the phenomenology sociology is the analysis of Peter Berger’s social reality construction. He argues that reality is socially constructed and then proceeds to examine the basis on which knowledge about reality is structured. He explains that reality is a matter of taking notice of the structured, almost modular, aspect of everyday experiences, even though the immediacy of experience has the effect of enabling individuals to take it for granted. Berger argues that one way of calling attention to the everyday-life, taken-for-granted features of experience is to abstract from problems or activities that interrupt the smooth flow of experience. This reality is both subjective and objective. By subjective Berger means that reality is personally meaningful to an individual and by objective he means that the social order, or institutional world that is created by individuals. An example of this in the movie Taking Chance, the reality is that joining the military and going to war sometimes brings with it death, which is objective, when the death is personal and someone that they all know, as it was for this small town of Clifton, the reality is subjective. This small town knew Pfc Chance Phelps and his family, making his death a reality that was personal to each and every one of them.
According to Berger, alienation is a loss of meaning, where there has been a disintegration of the socially constructed knowledge system. Within this definition comes the question how do subjective meanings become objective realities? Berger focuses on the subjective experience of everyday life realities, what is happening right now, however this reality can also include the past and future. Lt. Col. Michael Strobl’s subjective experience was his guilt for not being over in Iraq while he was crunching numbers for the Marine Corps and helping to decide how men to send over in order to compensate for the casualties that were taking place. As a result he volunteered to escort Pfc. Phelps body back to his hometown in hopes of honoring this Private who had given his life for his country.
All of this takes place in a context of intersubjectivity, or the face-to-face interaction. Berger states that “face-to-face interaction is the prototype of social interaction and that...

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