Schutzian Research

Volume 5, 2013

Joachim Renn, Linda Nell
Pages 37-48

Acts & Events: Alfred Schutz and the Phenomenological Contribution to the Theory of Interaction

The following article deals with Alfred Schutz’s contribution to the theory of action and interaction by pointing out the possibly most compelling phenomenological starting position, i.e, the decomposition of the unity of an action. The article stresses that Schutz’s methodical interpretive sociology in this sense has always refused the assimilation of action-events to material occurrences. In contrast to empiricist theories of action which wrongly substantialize actionevents by treating them as material events, the phenomenological account gives reason to the assumption that there must be a systematic gap between at least two subjective estimations of the meaning of action. In other words, the introspective analysis of the subjective constitution of meaning means to take the problem of double contingency seriously. Phenomenology, for its temporal and conceptual resolution, seems much more appropriate to reconstruct the complex structures of “presence,” “identity,” and “intersubjectivity” than empiricist accounts. The article proposes in the end the need for an alternative concept of presence: Instead of confusing levels of cooperation with allegedly “objective” synchronicity, phenomenology reminds us to elaborate an alternative concept of simultaneity, i.e, a simultaneity on the level of performativity and tacit knowledge. The latter could be the warrantor for co-reference.