The Life World of Alfred Schutz

The world of everyday life is known as the life-world in Schutz’s sociology. People are oriented to the life-world in the natural attitude, in which the world is taken for granted until a problematic situation emerges. Schutz maintained that the life-world is defined by six characteristics. First, it is characterized by wide-awakeness in which the actor gives full attention to life and its requirements. Second, the world is taken for granted; actors suspend any doubt of the existence of the life-world. Third, people work in the life-world — they “gear into” the life-world.
Fourth, people experience the working self as the total self in the life-world. Fifth, the social life of the life-world is characterized by intersubjectivity. Sixth, the actor’s flow of time intersects with the flow of time of society. The life world is an intersubjective world, one that existed before our birth; it was created by our predecessors and it was given to us to experience and interpret. One’s life-world, in other words, predates an individual’s birth and is given to them to struggle with and attempt to transform.
The life-world is therefore constraining, and people are always trying to shape or dominate it Cultural world was created by people in the past as in the present because it originates in and has been instituted by human actions; all cultural objects such as tools, symbols, languages, art, and social institutions point back to the origin and meaning of human action In his analysis of the life world Schutz was mainly concerned with the shared social stock of knowledge that leads to more or less habitual action Schutz views knowledge as the most variable element in our stock of knowledge because in a problematic situation we are able to come up with innovative ways of handling the situation Two aspects of stock of knowledge that is less likely to become problematic: 1. Knowledge of skills- most basic knowledge that rarely becomes problematic 2. Useful knowledge- definite solution to a situation that was once problematic


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