On Schutz’s conception of science as one of multiple realities

Hammersley, Martyn (2020). On Schutz’s conception of science as one of multiple realities. Journal of Classical Sociology, 20(4) pp. 281–297.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1468795X19849705


This article examines Alfred Schutz’s concept of ‘multiple realities’, and in particular, his portrayal of science as one of these realities. It is noted that, while this concept has been widely cited, it has often been interpreted in ways that are at odds with key features of Schutz’s original formulation. A careful assessment is made of the main article he wrote dealing with this topic, focusing on the respects in which the ‘multiple realities’ he discusses are held to differ. Particular attention is given to the relationship between science and what Schutz calls ‘the paramount reality’, that of ‘daily life’. It is suggested that there are some serious problems with the distinctions he makes and that these relate to an ambiguity in his position: that he starts from within phenomenological psychology, drawing on the work of Husserl and James, but moves in a more naturalistic and sociological direction in his account of ‘the world of daily life’. This raises some fundamental questions about the nature of phenomenology and its relationship to social science.

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