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Article

Sociology as a Naïve Science: Alfred Schütz and the Phenomenological Theory of Attitudes

Human Studies. 2016. Vol. 39. No. 4. P. 547-568.

Alfred Schütz is often credited with providing sociology with a firm ground derived from phenomenology of science and justifying it as a science operating within natural attitude. Although his project of social science draws extensively on Edmund Husserl’s theory of attitudes, it would be incorrect to assume that Schütz shares with the founder of phenomenology his conception of science. This paper compares Husserl’s and Schütz’s views on the structure and meaning of science and traces the roots of their radical divergence. Whereas Husserl increasingly emphasises the importance of phenomenological reduction for the genuine human science, Schütz eventually rejects reduction and restricts the social science to a specific system of relevancies within the reality of the lifeworld. This paper presents the argument that Schütz’s conception eliminates the possibility of a phenomenological justification of social science, as it implies that there are no rationally justifiable grounds to pursue science. In this way, Schütz’s views substantially differ from the phenomenological theory of science and become open to the phenomenological critique of naivety.