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Schutzian Research

Volume 13, 2021

Hermilio Santos, Priscila Susin
Pages 51-75

Relevance and Biographical Experience in Urban Social Research

This paper analyses how the epistemological foundation proposed by Alfred Schutz, especially his notion of system of relevance, can adequately inform interpretive social research that adopts biographical narrative interviews and the method of biographical case reconstruction. We exemplify this adequacy between Schutz’s theory and the interpretive biographical approach by exploring a research project conducted in favelas of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. We claim that social research on urban development and social inequalities can greatly benefit from this type of phenomenologically based perspective because it offers a longitudinal and in-depth understanding of individuals’ life courses and experiences in urban everyday life and how they unfold always intertwined with a wide range of different historical and cultural experiences, contexts, and meanings.