Typification in Society and Social Science: The Continuing Relevance of Schutz’s Social Phenomenology

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Human Studies

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Alfred Schutz Types Ideal types Intersubjectivity Phenomenology Social phenomenology Typification


Other Sociology | Sociology


This paper examines Alfred Schutz’s insights on types and typification. Beginning with a brief overview of the history and meaning of typification in interpretive sociology, the paper further addresses both the ubiquity and the necessity of typification in social life and scientific method. Schutz’s contribution itself is lacking in empirical application and grounding, but examples are provided of ongoing empirical research which advances the understanding of types and typification. As is suggested by illustrations from scholarship in the social studies of social science, studies of social identity associated with membership categorization analysis, and constructionist social problems theory, typification can be found to be central to social research whether it is taken up as a largely unacknowledged resource or whether it is addressed by different names. The overview and illustrations suggest the continuing, widespread, and indeed foundational relevance of Schutz’s insights into types and typification.