Phenomenological Sociology

Phenomenological Sociology

Key Terms

  • Interaction
  • Networks
  • Culture
  • Acts of Meaning
  • Grammar of Motives
  • Intention
  • Context
  • Frames
  • Meaning
  • Symantic
  • Symbolic
  • Self, Mind, Society
  • Self, Culture, Nature
  • Contextually dependent form of Meaning
  • Pragmatic
  • Phenomenological Sociology (Alfred Schutz)
  • Cultural Sociology
  • Phenomenology
  • Sociology
  • Mind
  • Phenomenological Hermenutics
  • Intersubjectivity
  • Transcendental Phenomenology (Edmund Husserl)
  • Transcendental Subjectivity
  • Interpretive Sociology (Max Weber)
  • Mundane Phenomenology ( Alfred Schutz)
  • Life World
  • Embeddedness in Society
  • Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann in The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge
  • Ethnomethodology introduced by Harold Garfinkel in the early 1960s
  • Merleau-Ponty and Heidegger
  • The Phenomenology of the Social World (1932/1972), Collected Papers I-III (1962-1966), and The Structures of the Life-World, co-authored by Thomas Luckmann and published in 1973 (Alfred Schutz)
  • George Psathas

Source: Phenomenological Sociology – The Subjectivity of Everyday Life

The Phenomenological Sociology of Everyday Life

Among the key figures in phenomenological sociology are Alfred Schutz (1899-1959), author of the works The Phenomenology of the Social World (1932/1972), Collected Papers I-III (1962-1966), and The Structures of the Life-World, co-authored by Thomas Luckmann and published in 1973; Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann, authors of the book The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge (1966/1991); and finally Harold Garfinkel, whose most important publication in this context is Studies in Ethnomethodology (1967). These will be dealt with below.

Alfred Schutz

Alfred Schutz is often referred to as the founder of phenomenological sociology. Schutz originally studied law and obtained his PhD from Vienna in 1921. Subsequently, he worked in a bank, however, and it was not until 1943, after his emigration to the USA, that Schutz obtained a part-time position at a university, namely New School for Social Research in New York. In 1952 he became professor at the same institution.

Schutz was initially inspired by Max Weber’s interpretive sociology. However, although Weber regarded meaningful action as the central topic of the social sciences, and although he emphasized the importance of an explicit thematization of the meaning that the individual actor attributes to her own action, he did not examine the constitution of social meaning as such, and was generally uninterested in fundamental questions in epistemology and the theory of meaning. It is precisely this gap that Schutz attempts to fill by combining Weber’s sociology with Husserl’s phenomenological methodology (Schutz 1932/1972:13).

Schutz claims that we experience the world as containing various relatively distinct and independent provinces of meaning (Schutz 1962:230). Dreams, for example, have their own unique temporal and spatial ‘logic’. The same goes for children’s play, stage performances, religious experience, and so on. According to Schutz, science and research, too, take place within a distinct province of meaning. One region has a special status, however, and that is the life-world. This is not only because it is the region in which we spend most of our lives. Equally important is the fact that each of the other regions, or limited ‘realities’, is a modification of the life-world. The ‘realities’ of science and of dreams, for example, are regions that one enters by ‘bracketing’ or ‘switching off’ in some way the quotidian life-world; and to that extent they both fundamentally presuppose the reality of the life-world (Schutz 1962:231-233; see Berger & Luckmann 1966/1991:39-40). Following Husserl, Schutz employs the term epoché for such ‘switching off’. When we dream, for example, we perform an epoché on the rules that in everyday reality govern the identities of persons and places. Most of us are thus familiar with dreams in which an event that takes place in one country switches to another location, without this being perceived as particularly odd within the universe of the dream.

Since it is the life-world rather than the mathematicized world of science that constitutes the frame and stage of social relations and actions, the sociologist, Schutz argues, should take her point of departure in the former. What is needed is a systematic examination of everyday life, and this requires a new type of sociological theory. Schutz’s concrete contribution here is twofold. First, he aims to describe and analyze the essential structures of the life-world. Second, he offers an account of the way in which subjectivity is involved in the construction of social meaning, social actions and situations – indeed social ‘worlds’. Relying on Husserl’s analyses of intentionality and the life-world, Schutz accordingly claims that the social world reveals and manifests itself in various intentional experiences. Its meaningfulness is constituted by subjects, and in order to understand and scientifically address the social world it is therefore necessary to examine the social agents for whom it exists as such.

It is partly for this reason that Schutz claims that the subject matter of the social sciences is more complex than that of the natural sciences. As he puts it, the social sciences must employ ‘constructs of the second degree’ (Schutz 1962:6), because the ‘objects’ of these sciences – social agents – themselves employ ‘first-order constructs’ of the reality around them. Of course, the social sciences must satisfy the same sorts of requirements as other empirical sciences: scientific results must be controllable and reproducible by other scientists working in the field, and scientific theories must be precise, consistent, and so on (Schutz 1962:49-52). Schutz also stresses that social scientists and natural scientists alike are motivated by other, more theoretical interests than the everyday person is guided by. The everyday person is an agent rather than a theoretical observer; she has practical interests and is normally guided by common-sense knowledge and understanding. The social scientist, by contrast, is not an agent in the social relations she studies. A scientific researcher, regardless of whether she studies social hierarchies in Scottish factories or electrons and amino acids, is an observer, not a participant. Schutz thus insists that the social scientist must maintain a distance to the phenomena she studies. However, the social sciences examine human beings in manifold social relations, and human agents have interests, motives, self-interpretation and an understanding of the world they live in – all of which must be taken into account if we want to understand social reality in its full concretion (Schutz 1962:6; Gurwitsch 1974:129). This radically distinguishes social science from natural science: the latter obviously has no need to take into account the self-understanding and self-interpretation of the objects studied (electrons and amino acids have no self-understanding). Schutz thus emphatically rejects reductionist programs, such as behaviourism and positivism, which attempt to reduce human action to observable behaviour and stimulus-response mechanisms. The social scientist must construct credible models of everyday agents – models that include such things as consciousness, motives and understanding. The task is to make explicit the meaning and significance these structures and relations have for the observed agents themselves (see Schutz 1964:7).

For Schutz, the investigation of intersubjectivity – in particular, of how one subject has experiential access to another subject, and how a community of ‘we’ is constituted – has a central place in sociological theory (see Schutz 1932/1972:97-99). A further task is to give an account of how a multitude of experiences can constitute the structures of meaning that make up social reality. As Schutz writes, every science of social meaning refers back to our meaning-constituting life in the social world: to our everyday experience of other persons, to our understanding of pre-given meanings, and to our initiation of new meaningful behaviour (Schutz 1932/1972:9). Schutz’s phenomenological perspective thus emphasizes that the primary object of sociology is not institutions, market conjunctures, social classes or structures of power, but human beings, that is, acting and experiencing individuals, considered in their myriad relations to others, but also with an eye to their own, meaning-constituting subjective lives. Schutz’s point, of course, is not that sociology should have no interest whatsoever in institutions, power structures, and the like. Rather, he merely insists that a concept such as ‘power structure’ must be regarded as a sort of ‘intellectual shorthand’, which can be useful for certain purposes, but must never lead us to forget that, in the end, power structures presuppose experiencing, interpreting and acting individuals (Schutz 1962:34-35; 1964:6-7). Along with Husserl and other phenomenologists, Schutz thus understands sociality as inter- subjectivity – that is, as something that is ultimately anchored in individual subjects.

According to Schutz, each of us experiences his or her social environment as structured in ‘strata’ or ‘layers’ around himself or herself. Temporally as well as spatially, these layers are, for each individual, structured with that individual as the centre. With regard to the temporal structure, Schutz distinguishes between three layers or spheres:

In the dimension of time there are with reference to me in my actual biographical moment ‘contemporaries’, with whom a mutual interplay of action and reaction can be established; ‘predecessors’, upon whom I cannot act, but whose past actions and their outcome are open to my interpretation and may influence my own actions; and ‘successors’, of whom no experience is possible but toward whom I may orient my actions in a more or less empty anticipation. All these relations show the most manifold forms of intimacy and anonymity, of familiarity and strangeness, of intensity and extensity (Schutz 1962:15-16; see Berger & Luckmann 1966/1991:46-49).

With regard to my contemporaries, there are various layers of ‘spatial’ proximity and distance, familiarity and strangeness. Some people are part of my immediate environment. Schutz says that I have a ‘face-to-face’ relationship with those people, but this expression is intended to refer to ‘a purely formal aspect of social relationship equally applicable to an intimate talk between friends and the co-presence of strangers in a railroad car’ (Schutz 1962:16; see Berger & Luckmann 1966/1991:43-46). Obviously, even in the course of a whole lifetime, I have this sort of spatial proximity with only a very small percentage of the population of the world. This does not mean, however, that the rest of humanity is not part of my environing world at all. There is some mutual contact and influence, however vague, indirect and insignificant, between most of my contemporaries and me.

According to Schutz, the experience of the life-world is a process of typification. We employ a repertoire of maxims and recipes – a type of practical ‘know-how’ – for understanding and dealing with the world and other people. Objects in the life-world are not simply unique, individual entities, but ‘mountains’, ‘trees’, ‘houses’, ‘animals’, and ‘persons’. No matter what we encounter, it is something whose more or less general ‘type’ we are familiar with. A person who has only very limited knowledge of trees can perhaps not tell whether the tree she passes in the woods is an elm or a beech, but she sees it immediately as ‘a tree’. In other words, we have a kind of immediate knowledge about how to understand our environment. The primary source of this knowledge is previous experience – both experiences we have had ourselves, and experience transmitted to us by others.

Obviously, typifications also play an important role in our social life. We immediately experience others in a typified manner. Not only people with whom we are personally acquainted or bump into on the train, or with whom we communicate via the internet, but also people with whom we never have any direct contact; indeed, we even typify in various ways our predecessors and possible successors. In fact, we do not only experience objects and living creatures as typified, but also actions, situations, motives, personalities, and so forth. Schutz writes:

Putting a letter in the mailbox, I expect that unknown people, called postmen, will act in a typical way, not quite intelligible to me, with the result that my letter will reach the addressee within typically reasonable time. Without ever having met a Frenchman or a German, I understand ‘Why France fears the rearmament of Germany’. Complying with a rule of English grammar, I follow a socially approved behaviour pattern of contemporary English-speaking fellow-men to which I have to adjust my own behaviour in order to make myself understandable. And, finally, any artefact or utensil refers to the anonymous fellow-man who produced it to be used by other anonymous fellow-men for attaining typical goals by typical means (Schutz 1962:17; see Schutz 1932/1972:185).

An action such as putting a letter in the mailbox involves a typification of other people and their motives in time and space. I implicitly assume that certain typical other people have certain typical motives (for example, that they want to do their job well) and therefore will perform certain typical actions in such a way that my letter will arrive at its destination. According to Schutz, another element in this pattern of typification is an assumption that others have ‘systems of relevancies’ that are similar to my own (Schutz 1962:12); in other words, that others will by and large consider those things important that I myself regard as important. Of course, Schutz does not claim that we implicitly assume that others’ interests, projects and tastes are exactly like our own. Rather, he is trying to direct attention to something much more fundamental. If I send a letter to China, for example, I assume that Chinese postal workers will consider the address written on the envelope more important than, say, the size or colour of the envelope, when determining to which part of China the letter should be sent. According to Schutz, this idea about the ‘congruence of the systems of relevancies’ is part of a larger complex of implicit assumptions, which he calls the thesis of ‘the reciprocity of perspectives’ (Schutz 1962:11, 147). We do not merely assume that our systems of relevancies are in tune, but also that we should view things in the same way if we could view them from other people’s perspectives. This point applies not only to spatial perspectives, but also to culturally, historically and biographically conditioned ‘perspectives’.

As an agent in the life-world, however, I not only typify others. For example, my very imperfect understanding of the motives and actions of postal workers will lead me to typify some of my own actions when posting a letter. I try to write in such a way that a typical postal worker will be able to decipher my handwriting; I write the address in a typical place on the envelope, etc. Briefly put, I try to make myself the typical ‘sender of a letter’ (see Schutz 1962:25-26).

In connection with his analyses of the typifying assumptions that are implicit in any life- worldly action, Schutz also offers a close analysis of the motives for actions. He argues that we need to distinguish between two types of motives: ‘in-order-to’ motives and ‘because’ motives. An agent’s in-order-to motive is what she wants to achieve with the action – her aim or purpose. From the perspective of the agent, the in-order-to motive is thus directed at the future, that is, at the state of affairs that the action is supposed to realize. The because motive, in contrast, has to do with the agent’s past and the circumstances that made her seriously consider the course of action she adopts. Schutz’s favourite example involves a person who commits murder in order to obtain the victim’s money. The in-order-to motive is straightforward: the purpose is to obtain money. The because motive is rather more complex, in that it includes all the factors that contributed to putting the agent in a situation where she could project and carry out this action. Her problematic childhood and her drug addiction may, for example, be part of the because motive. In ordinary language, both types of motive can be expressed by ‘because’ utterances, while only in-order-to motives can be expressed by ‘in-order- to’ utterances. It makes sense to say both ‘I hit him because I wanted his money’ and ‘I hit him because I was abused as a child’, but only the former sentence can be turned into an ‘in- order-to’ sentence. ‘I hit him in order to get his money’ makes perfect sense; ‘I hit him in order to have been abused as a child’ does not (Schutz 1962:69-72).

My aims and interests decide how I experience things and people around me. As already suggested, these interests are mainly practical rather than theoretical (Schutz 1962:208). Thus, although I have many levels of typification at my disposal, my interest usually picks out one such level as salient. With regard to some people and objects, I am only interested in certain typical features or aspects, whereas other things may not interest me in their typicality, but only in their uniqueness. My interest in the postal worker usually does not go beyond her typical motives and actions qua postal worker: her blood type and hobbies, for example, are of no interest to me. In fact, it would not matter much if pigeons or robots rather than human beings delivered my letters, as long as something ‘performed’ certain typical actions in such a way that my letters would reach their addressees. If I encounter a large, growling animal in the woods on a dark night, this creature does not strike me as an example of a spatially extended thing, but as a dangerous animal. The book a good friend gave me as a birthday present ten years ago, on the other hand, is not for me a typical ‘book’, nor is it, more specifically, ‘a copy of The Brothers Karamazov’ that could simply be replaced by another, identical copy. Rather, for me this object is unique. The same obviously goes for my friends and family. I do not regard them as ‘mammals’, specimens of homo sapiens or ‘postal workers’, which could in principle be replaced by other specimens of the type (Schutz 1962:8-10).

These ways of understanding my environment are generally so natural and familiar to me that I never pause to reflect on them. As Schutz often puts it, I take them for granted, without questioning their validity, and without subjecting them to scrutiny (Schutz 1962:74). Like Husserl, Schutz calls this unquestioning and uncritical attitude to one’s environment the ‘natural attitude’ (see Husserl 1982:§27). When I am naturally attuned, the entire system of practical knowledge or ‘know-how’, to which my typifications belong, remains in the background, as it were. This is obviously connected with the practical focus of the everyday subject: we have letters to send, groceries to buy, children to take to school, and so on. These activities and the various projects of which they form part guide our interests and priorities. Our practical knowledge, including the various typifications, are tools that we employ immediately and take for granted in order to navigate in the life-world and accomplish our aims.

Our background knowledge, however, is not immune to revision. As long as my typifications help me achieve my aims and objectives, they will remain in force; but if they are repeatedly defeated, I will typically revise them. As Schutz puts it, our background knowledge is taken for granted, but only ‘until further notice’ (Schutz 1962:74; Berger & Luckmann 1966/1991:58). If, for example, I repeatedly experience that the addressees do not receive my letters, I will revise some of my assumptions concerning typical postal workers and their typical motives. On the other hand, I can only deal with such a situation by relying on other assumptions and typifications. I may file a complaint with The Royal Mail, for example, thereby tacitly assuming that certain officials will react in certain typical ways (read my complaint, rather than simply ignore it). Alternatively, I may decide that from now on I will use electronic mail only, thereby assuming typical courses of action on the part of my internet service provider, and so on. Thus, even if individual typifications are only taken for granted ‘until further notice’, it would be practically impossible to abandon them unless other typifications and assumptions at the same time remained in operation. Schutz accordingly concludes that it is within the context of a world taken for granted that I can question and doubt individual cases. The life-world itself is the undoubted ‘foundation of any possible doubt’ (Schutz 1962:74).

We perceive, experience and understand in accordance with normal and typical structures, models and patterns, which previous experiences have inscribed in our subjective lives (Schutz 1962:7-10). These structures and models prescribe what we should do in a particular situation, and they give us a sense that we can count on social reality, that it is reliable and can be comprehended, and that others experience it as we do. Obviously, intersubjectivity plays an important role in this. The stock of typical assumptions, expectations and prescriptions, which I make use of with complete naturalness, is for the most part socially derived and socially accepted.

Normality is also conventionality, which essentially transcends the individual person. My relations with others go as far back as I can remember, and my understanding is structured in accordance with the intersubjectively handed-down ways of understanding, which I have acquired through my upbringing and through learning a language (Schutz 1962:13-14; see Berger & Luckmann 1966/1991:150-153). The same goes for a wide range of my opinions and actions. As already Husserl pointed out, beside the influences of concrete individual others, there are the more indeterminate, general commands that custom and tradition issue: ‘one’ thinks this about that; ‘one’ holds a fork like this, and so on (Husserl 1989:281-282; Heidegger 1927/1962:149-168). In sum, it is from others that I learn what is normal – in particular those others that are closest to me, those who raise me and those I grow up together with and live with. I am thereby part of a common tradition that, through a chain of generations, stretches back into a distant past.

My background knowledge, implicit assumptions, expectations, and so on, are hence not primarily mine, understood as my own personal and unique constructions. On the contrary, they are social constructions. In connection with this general point, Schutz subjects knowledge to a close analysis. He focuses on three aspects of the socialization of human knowledge: its structural socialization, its genetic socialization and its social distribution (Schutz 1962:11). As for the structural aspect, Schutz emphasizes that the knowledge we have is knowledge that others could have as well, if they had access to the same facts as we have access to. Conversely, I could know what others know, if only I could view things from their perspective, with their background knowledge, etc. This is, of course, connected with the already mentioned point about the ‘reciprocity of perspectives’. Knowledge, however, also has a social genesis, in that, as mentioned, most of our knowledge has been transmitted to us through others (parents, friends and teachers, who were themselves taught by teachers, and so on). Finally, Schutz emphasizes that knowledge is socially distributed. This claim includes the obvious point that most of us know something about certain things, but very little about other things. A person can be an expert in Slavic languages and have no idea what to do if he cannot start his car. Fortunately, others (mechanics) do know how to deal with this sort of thing. And most of us have sufficient knowledge, even outside our fields of expertise, to get by in everyday life. We know how to fill up the tank and check the oil; and besides, we have some rough knowledge of how to find someone who can fill the gaps in our own stock of knowledge (Schutz 1962:14-15).

The Successors of Schutz

With Schutz’s immigration to the U.S.A. shortly before the Second World War, American social scientists were introduced to phenomenological sociology. Nevertheless, it took considerable time for Schutz’s perspective to achieve any real impact on American sociology. There are several reasons for this. First, Schutz only became a full-time professor after more than ten years in the U.S.A. Second, he was attached to the New School for Social Research in New York, which at that time was not regarded as a prestigious institution. Third, Schutz’s publications were not very successful. The English translation of his early book The Phenomenology of the Social World was only published posthumously; while he had begun a similarly comprehensive and systematic account of his ideas after immigrating to America, he was unable to complete it; and his papers were primarily published in philosophical rather than sociological journals. Finally, due primarily to misunderstandings, Schutz fell out with the influential Harvard sociologist Talcott Parsons. Despite all of this, Schutz managed, albeit with some delay, to influence the American sociological scene, and it was thus in the U.S.A. that two new phenomenological sociologies were first introduced: the sociology of knowledge and ethnomethodology.

Schutz repeatedly points out that the social distribution of knowledge is a topic that has been insufficiently studied – a topic that would deserve the title ‘sociology of knowledge’ (Schutz 1962:15, 149; 1964:121). Originally, the sociology of knowledge was a discipline that primarily addressed epistemological issues, such as how true knowledge is acquired, by which methods, etc. Its focus was on theoretical ideas and the knowledge of the ‘elite’ – i.e., the established sciences, the cultural elite, and so on. Schutz, however, emphasizes that also the mechanic and the supermarket check-out assistant have their ‘knowledge’ and that such knowledge is just as legitimate an object for a genuine sociology of knowledge as is the knowledge of the scientific and cultural elite. Besides, it is not the task of sociology as an empirical science to address general epistemological questions. Rather, in Schutz’s view, sociology should focus on the life-world as it is experienced by everyday subjects (Schutz 1962:144-145).

These ideas were taken up by Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann in The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge. This influential book attempts to combine Schutz’s phenomenological outlook with the symbolic interactionism of George Herbert Mead. But Berger and Luckmann also draw upon German anthropology and figures such as Max Scheler, Helmuth Plessner and Arnold Gehlen, as well as Karl Marx, Max Weber and Émile Durkheim. Berger and Luckmann were born in Austria and Slovenia, respectively, but both immigrated to the United States, and studied with Schutz at the New School for Social Research.

Berger and Luckmann seek to apply the theoretical perspective of phenomenology to crucial notions such as identity, socialization, social roles, language, normality/abnormality, and so on. They claim that it is the task of the sociology of knowledge to analyze the societal conditions for the formation and maintenance of various types of knowledge, scientific as well as quotidian. Berger and Luckmann thus widen the focus of the sociology of knowledge beyond the question of the social distribution of knowledge that Schutz had singled out as the central problem (Berger & Luckmann 1966/1991:28). But they share Schutz’s basic intuitions. The sociology of knowledge is, briefly put, interested in how knowledge is produced, distributed, and internalized; it examines how the validity of any form of knowledge (that of the Tibetan monk no less than that of the American businesswoman or the criminologist) becomes socially established (Berger & Luckmann 1966/1991:15). But as they also stress, the sociology of knowledge must first of all concern itself with what people ‘know’ as ‘reality’ in their everyday, non- or pre-theoretical lives. In other words, common-sense ‘knowledge’ rather than ‘ideas’ must be the central focus for the sociology of knowledge. It is precisely this ‘knowledge’ that constitutes the fabric of meanings without which no society could exist (Berger & Luckmann 1966/1991:27).

This project involves a challenge to any objectivist and positivist social theory. Berger and Luckmann reject any attempt to view social reality as an objective entity, as a non-human or supra-human thing (Berger & Luckmann 1966/1991:106). As they write, the social order is a product of human activity; it is neither biologically determined, nor in any other way determined by facts of nature: ‘Social order is not part of the “nature of things”, and it cannot be derived from the “laws of nature”. Social order exists only as a product of human activity’ (Berger & Luckmann 1966/1991:70). The task of social theory is to provide an account of how human beings, through manifold forms of interaction, create and shape social structures and institutions, which may first have the character of a common, intersubjective reality, but eventually become ‘externalized’ and achieve objective reality. As also Schutz would say, this happens largely through institutionalized typifications (Berger & Luckmann 1966/1991:85- 96). Through institutionalization, human activity is subjected to social control. The constructed social structures define what is normal, and sanctions are introduced to maintain the social order and avoid digression. With time, institutions come to appear inevitable and objective. Yet:

It is important to keep in mind that the objectivity of the institutional world, however massive it may appear to the individual, is a humanly produced, constructed objectivity … The institutional world is objectivated human activity, and so is every single institution … The paradox that man is capable of producing a world that he then experiences as something other than a human product will concern us later on. At the moment, it is important to emphasize that the relationship between man, the producer, and the social world, his product, is and remains a dialectical one. That is, man (not, of course, in isolation but in his collectivities) and his social world interact with each other. The product acts back upon the producer (Berger & Luckmann 1966/1991:78).

Social reality is thus not only an externalized and objectified human product; it acts back upon human beings. Not only in the sense that we may feel it as an oppressive external force that we cannot resist, but also in the sense that social reality is something individual human beings ‘internalize’. We are not raised outside society, but grow up in it. And as we grow up and mature, we take over from others (and make our own) a language, roles, attitudes and norms (see Berger & Luckmann 1966/1991:149-157). Human society, Berger and Luckmann emphasize, must therefore be ‘understood in terms of an ongoing dialectic of the three moments of externalization, objectivation and internalization’ (Berger & Luckmann 1966/1991:149).

The Social Construction of Reality became very popular in the late 1960s and in the 1970s, and was the book that made Schutz’s ideas accessible to a wider audience. Another brand of American sociology that received crucial impulses from Schutz was the ethnomethodology introduced by Harold Garfinkel in the early 1960s. Garfinkel was influenced by Husserl, Merleau-Ponty and Heidegger, but his main inspiration came from Schutz, Aaron Gurwitsch and Talcott Parsons. Unlike Berger and Luckmann, Garfinkel was never a student of Schutz; but Garfinkel’s approach to sociology nevertheless betrays an important Schutzean inspiration. While Schutz remained a social theorist, however, Garfinkel applied phenomenological ideas in carrying out actual empirical research.

Briefly put, the task of ethnomethodology is to examine how social agents structure their social environment in a meaningful way. Like Schutz, the ethnomethodologist seeks to view things from participants’ perspectives and attempts to understand how their life-form can be viewed as a result of their interaction with each other. The point is not to establish whether a given life-form is ‘true’ or ‘false’, but rather to determine how agents have formed the interpretations and opinions that they hold. Ethnomethodology regards social structures (roles, institutions and systems of cultural meaning and value) as products of social interaction, rather than as pre-existing and determining factors. Social reality is thus conceived of as a fragile and vulnerable construction. It is a construction that is actively maintained by the participants.

According to Garfinkel, we are all busy constructing a world in which we feel at home. As also emphasized by Schutz, this happens in part via a process of typification. We make use of various routines and maxims in coping with social reality. These routines and maxims are gradually internalized and thereby recede from our view. In this way, the preconditions for our production of social meaning and order become inaccessible to us. Our understanding can never be made completely explicit and will always involve a horizon of background assumptions. But ethnomethodology has developed special techniques to reveal the practices that people engage in when establishing a social order. One such technique involves creating situations in which our normal background assumptions are undermined and thereby made explicit. In one experiment, Garfinkel thus asked his students to act like guests in their own homes and record the reactions of their family members. These reactions varied from confusion to anger, and thus, according to Garfinkel, illustrated the fragility of the social order: an order that we ourselves help to produce, but which we nevertheless tend to take for granted (Garfinkel 1967:42-43).

A famous empirical study informed by phenomenological ideas is Aaron V. Cicourel’s study of the treatment of juvenile delinquents in two Californian cities. According to Cicourel, the process of classifying a young person as a delinquent crucially involves certain background assumptions on the part of police officers, probation officers, court officials, and others. The police may, for example, have a tendency to pick out likely candidates on the basis of an implicit picture of the ‘typical delinquent’. The picture includes such factors as family background, school performance and ethnicity. By applying such ‘typifications’, police officers and others involved make sense of the cases they are faced with (Cicourel 1976). A similar approach is adopted in J. Maxwell Atkinson’s work on suicide statistics (Atkinson 1978). Atkinson found that coroners often rely on ‘common-sense theories’ about suicide and its causes when determining whether a particular death should be classified as a suicide or an accidental death – theories that to a remarkable extent converge with the typical picture of suicide propagated by news media. For coroners as well as for other agents, Atkinson suggests, such theorizing ‘provid[es] for the social organization of sudden deaths by rendering otherwise disordered and potentially senseless events ordered and sensible’ (Atkinson 1978:173).

Phenomenology and ethnomethodology have often criticized sociologies that attempt to analyze social reality in terms of various pre-defined categories, such as gender, class struggles, and the like. The claim is that such a procedure theorizes about the world instead of describing it. This critique suggests the phenomenological point that sociology must return to ‘the things themselves’, to the ‘phenomena’. Rather than moulding the social world to fit various predefined theoretical categories, we ought to examine how people themselves experience their social reality. For ethnomethodology, the main sociological task is thus to understand how social agents themselves cope with the task of describing and explaining the order of the reality in which they live.

Criticism of Phenomenological Sociology

Let us briefly consider some of the criticisms that phenomenological sociology has been met with. Nick Crossley (1996:95-98) lists a number of allegedly problematic features of Schutz’ work, one of which merits consideration here. According to Crossley, ‘Schutz tends to stick to the sorts of relationship which an individual takes to other individuals or groups at the expense of a consideration of relationships, practices and processes viewed from the trans- individual position of the systems which they form’ (Crossley 1996:98). In other words, Schutz seems to adopt an ‘individualist’ perspective and thereby loses sight of the way ‘the community itself functions as a system, perpetuating itself through space and time’ (Crossley 1996:98).

A phenomenological reply to this criticism consists of two parts. First, one should not think that Schutz’s shortcomings are necessarily the shortcomings of the phenomenological perspective as such. Thus, even if it is correct that Schutz failed to consider the community as a system that perpetuates itself through space and time, this need not be because of his commitment to phenomenology. In fact, Berger and Luckmann, in part two of The Social Construction of Reality, give detailed consideration to how society perpetuates itself as an impersonal, ‘trans-individual’ system.

That said, however, Crossley does have a point. As readers of the present chapter may have noticed, some sort of emphasis on the individual person or subject is found in all the phenomenological thinkers we have considered – from Husserl, through Schutz, to Berger and Luckmann and Garfinkel. The phenomenologists, however, would insist that this is ultimately no ground for criticism. A society cannot be reduced to the sum of its individual members; but on the other hand, the phenomenologists maintain that there is no society without individual subjects. To speak of a ‘social system’ in the absence of a robust notion of individual subjects makes little sense; for in what sense would the system in question be social? What could make it social except the fact that it involves (which is not the same as: ‘can be reduced to’) individual subjects standing in various relations to each other? A community of no one is hardly a community. An impersonal ‘system’ will never yield a society. For that, we need the interpersonal – and without the personal, there is no interpersonal (see Overgaard 2007, esp. chapter 5).

As another general criticism of phenomenology, one might maintain that its strengths could easily become its weaknesses. The phenomenological rehabilitation of the life-world, and the insistence on the importance of the everyday human being and its ‘common-sense’ knowledge, may seem to verge on celebrating the ordinary or mediocre. For example, the idea that common-sense knowledge is as legitimate a sociological theme as is scientific knowledge may seem to imply that these two kinds of knowledge are equally valuable. But, if so, the phenomenological perspective would implicitly legitimize intellectual laziness. Other critics have claimed that phenomenological sociology is conservative, that it implies a defence of the status quo – even when status quo is an unjust social order. Finally, the phenomenological emphasis on subjectivity as active and creative must not lead to blindness regarding the manifold ways in which individuals can be subjected to, and controlled by, institutions or other individuals.

However, phenomenology has largely pre-empted these criticisms. The notion that the phenomenological sociologist must primarily examine the everyday person, and that she must take seriously this person’s ‘knowledge’ and perspective, is fully compatible with maintaining a critical distance. Schutz himself stresses that the sociologist must be an observer of, rather than a participant in, the social phenomena she examines. And he emphasizes the fact that our common-sense knowledge is limited and incomplete. A phenomenologist such as Heidegger couples an examination of the everyday human being and its ‘average’ understanding with a rather critical perspective on this everyday understanding (allegedly superficial and with a tendency to rely on hearsay) (Heidegger 1927/1962:210-219). Indeed, he emphasizes that the everyday subject may be blinded by habit and convention (Heidegger 1927/1962:149-168). Thus, a phenomenological examination of the everyday subject need not glorify or idealize it. Similarly, a descriptive analysis of social reality as it is need not legitimize it. On the contrary, a sober description is an important element in any rational deliberation on what, precisely, ought to be changed about the status quo.

Ultimately, however, the phenomenologists would insist that it is not an option to devaluate entirely – let alone reject – our ordinary everyday knowledge. For even scientists and political revolutionaries must rely on this knowledge in the greater part of their lives. Moreover, in spite of its many imperfections and limitations, this knowledge is usually adequate enough for practical purposes. Nor, as already mentioned, is it an option to ignore completely the individual subject or to insist that it is nothing but a plaything in the hands of society. As individual subjects we are not merely subjected to the social reality in which we live; we also take part in its creation and maintenance. And for that very reason it is possible for us to change it. As Berger and Luckmann write: ‘However objectivated, the social world was made by men – and, therefore, can be remade by them’ (Berger & Luckmann 1966/1991:106).

Conclusion

Let us briefly recapitulate some of the crucial features of phenomenological everyday life sociology. First, all phenomenologists share an insistence on description and a resistance toward theoretical speculation. A second important feature of phenomenological sociology is its emphasis on the need to take everyday life seriously. The ‘naturally attuned’, practically oriented common-sense person and her experienced life-world is the primary object of sociology. Thirdly, phenomenology maintains that an examination of sociality and social reality has to take subjectivity into account. Human subjectivity is not merely moulded and determined by social forces. In interaction with others, subjectivity also shapes social reality.

Phenomenological sociologists have consistently issued warnings against the tendency to substantialize and reify social matters and they have offered a corrective to traditional positivistic research methodologies. Societal reality, including institutions, organizations, ethnic groupings, classes, and so on, must be regarded as a product of human activity. The sociological task is to understand the workings of this productive or constitutive process. No account of everyday social life can be complete if it does not take into account the contribution of individual subjectivities. This is the fundamental message of phenomenological sociology.

My Related Posts

Cyber-Semiotics: Why Information is not enough

Truth, Beauty, and Goodness: Integral Theory of Ken Wilber

Boundaries and Relational Sociology

Society as Communication: Social Systems Theory of Niklas Luhmann

Phenomenology and Symbolic Interactionism

Networks, Narratives, and Interaction

Semiotics, Bio-Semiotics and Cyber Semiotics

Socio-Cybernetics and Constructivist Approaches

Third and Higher Order Cybernetics

Key Sources of Research

Manifesto for a Relational Sociology

Mustafa Emirbayer

New School for Social Research

The Sociology of the Self

Author(s): Peter L. Callero
Source: Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 29 (2003), pp. 115-133

Phenomenology (sociology)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phenomenology_(sociology)

Interactionism

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interactionism

Interpretivism, social constructionism and phenomenology

https://lo.unisa.edu.au/mod/page/view.php?id=489362

The Meaning of Meaning in Sociology. The Achievements and Shortcomings of Alfred Schutz’s Phenomenological Sociology

RISTO HEISKALA

First published: 04 March 2011 

https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-5914.2011.00461.x

Volume41, Issue3 September 2011 Pages 231-246

Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 41:3 0021-8308

Theories of Meaning

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/meaning/

Beyond Husserl and Schütz. Hermann Schmitz and Neophenomenological Sociology

Robert Gugutzer

DOI: 10.1111/jtsb.12240

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/jtsb.12240

“Meaning” as a sociological concept:
A review of the modeling, mapping, and simulation of the communication of knowledge and meaning

Loet Leydesdorff
Amsterdam School of Communications Research (ASCoR), University of Amsterdam Kloveniersburgwal 48, 1012 CX Amsterdam, The Netherlands; loet@leydesdorff.net; http://www.leydesdorff.net

Click to access meaning.pdf

Chapter 3

Phenomenological Sociology – The Subjectivity of Everyday Life

Søren Overgaard & Dan Zahavi

Beyond Empathy Phenomenological Approaches to Intersubjectivity

Dan Zahavi

The Concept of Meaning in Sociology

  • February 2016

DOI:10.13140/RG.2.1.1029.0320

Norbert Wiley

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/299353047_The_Concept_of_Meaning_in_Sociology

What is sociology?

  • August 2014

DOI:10.13140/2.1.3537.6003

  • Conference: Induction for sociology beginners
  • At: Lagos, Nigeria

Flourish Itulua-Abumere

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/264800355_What_is_sociology

Alfred Schutz

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/schutz/

Phenomenological Life-World Analysis and Ethnomethodology’s Program

Thomas S. Eberle

Hum Stud (2012) 35:279–304 DOI 10.1007/s10746-012-9219-z

Click to access 10746_2012_Article_9219.pdf

Phenomenological Sociology Reconsidered 

On The New Orleans Sniper

Thomas S. Eberle

Hum Stud (2013) 36:121–132 DOI 10.1007/s10746-013-9261-5

Phenomenology and the Social Sciences: a story with no beginning

Carlos Belvedere􏰀

Sociedad (B. Aires) vol.2 no.se Buenos Aires 2007

Click to access scs_a01.pdf

The phenomenology of Alfred Schutz

Maurice Natanson Pages 147-155 | Published online: 29 Aug 2008


Inquiry 
An Interdisciplinary Journal of PhilosophyVolume 9, 1966 – Issue 1-4

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00201746608601455?src=recsys

CHAPTER 9

PHENOMENOLOGY AND SOCIOLOGY: DIVERGENT INTERPRETATIONS OF A COMPLEX RELATIONSHIP 

Thomas S. Eberle

in Book Interactions in Everyday Life

What is Phenomenological Sociology Again?

DOI:10.1007/s10746-009-9131-3

Greg Bird

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/227304180_What_is_Phenomenological_Sociology_Again

Sociology and Phenomenology

DOI:10.15448/1984-7289.2017.3.29429

Jochen Dreher

Hermílio Santos

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/321839851_Sociology_and_Phenomenology

George Psathas

Emeritus Professor of Sociology

George Psathas

Phenomenology and Symbolic Interactionism

Phenomenology and Symbolic Interactionism

Key Terms

  • Phenomenology
  • Symbolic Interactionism
  • Interactionism
  • Interpretivism
  • Ethnomethodology
  • Hermenutics
  • Phenomenology Sociology
  • Individual and Collective
  • Intersubjectivity
  • Meaning making
  • Interiority
  • Hermeneutic-phenomenological tradition
  • Transcendental Phenomenology
  • Subjectivity

What is Sociology?

Social Theories

Phenomenology

Source: Phenomenological Sociology – The Subjectivity of Everyday Life

The Phenomenological Movement

The movement of phenomenology is more than a century old. In fact, the inauguration of the movement can be dated precisely to 1900-1901, the years in which the two parts of Edmund Husserl’s (1859-1938) Logical Investigations were published. Husserl was originally a mathematician, whose interests in the foundational problems of mathematics led him to logic and philosophy. Despite the title, the Logical Investigations does not merely address logical problems narrowly conceived. Rather, Husserl advanced what he believed is the right approach to philosophical problems in general: instead of resorting to armchair theorizing and speculation, we must consult the ‘the things themselves’, or that which ‘manifests itself’ or ‘gives itself’ (Greek: phainomenon). On this basis, Husserl claimed that the traditional notion of the mind as an inner, self-contained realm is misguided. Rather, the mind is in various ways directed upon objects external to it. Influenced by the Austrian psychologist and philosopher Franz Brentano (1838-1917), Husserl labels this object-directedness ‘intentionality’. To watch a soccer game, to want a new bicycle, and to recall last year’s summer holidays, are examples of different experiences which have the character of ‘intentionality’, of being directed at an ‘object’ (the soccer game, a new bicycle, and last year’s holidays, respectively).

The Logical Investigations made Husserl widely known, and contributed to the formation of phenomenological schools in Göttingen, where Husserl himself taught from 1901, and Munich, where, among others, Max Scheler (1874-1928) advocated a phenomenological approach. However, in his second magnum opus, entitled Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy I, Husserl pushed his phenomenology in a direction that many other phenomenologists considered problematic. The Logical Investigations had emphasized a purely descriptive approach, and Husserl had remained neutral on the question concerning the ontological status of the mind (or consciousness) and its objects. Many phenomenologists in Göttingen and Munich had consequently regarded the Logical Investigations as fully compatible with their own realist views. In this context, ‘realism’ is the view that the nature and existence of reality is completely independent of the mind. In the Ideas, however, Husserl argued that the world is ‘constituted’ by consciousness or ‘transcendental subjectivity’. Although Husserl denied that transcendental subjectivity ‘creates’ the world in any conventional sense, his new position did imply that the world cannot be conceived of as completely independent of a world-cognizing subject. This ‘idealism’ was unacceptable to many of the original adherents of the phenomenological movement. Yet, even though Husserl, in later works such as Cartesian Meditations and The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology, increasingly emphasized that transcendental subjectivity must be embodied and embedded in a community of subjects, he never abandoned the ‘transcendental phenomenology’ introduced in the Ideas.

After Husserl became professor of philosophy in Freiburg in 1916, the phenomenological movement became increasingly influential outside the old phenomenological strongholds. In Freiburg, Husserl became acquainted with the young philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889- 1976), who soon convinced Husserl of his great potential. When Husserl retired in 1928, he appointed Heidegger as his successor. By then, Heidegger was already something of a celebrity in philosophical environments across Germany, in particular on account of his unorthodox but enormously popular lectures. Heidegger’s early masterpiece Being and Time (1927/1962) is undoubtedly an important phenomenological work; but it is controversial to what extent Heidegger remains faithful to Husserl’s program (see Overgaard 2004). Being and Time revolves around an extremely complex problematic that Heidegger labels ‘the question of the meaning of Being’. Central to this question is an analysis of the peculiar mode or manner of Being that characterizes the human being (or Dasein, as Heidegger prefers to say). In continuation of Husserl’s analyses of intentionality, Heidegger claims that the human being cannot be understood independently of the world in which it is experientially and practically engaged. As he puts it, the Being of Dasein is ‘Being-in-the-world’. Heidegger is particularly concerned to emphasize the practical involvement of humans in their environment. A human being is not primarily a spectator on its environing world, but an agent in it; and the world is not a collection of neutral objects or things, but more like a web of functional relations between practical ‘tools’ or ‘equipment’.

It is in the space between Husserl and Heidegger that one must locate the main inspiration for the later French phenomenologists. Emmanuel Lévinas (1906-1995) studied philosophy in Freiburg when Heidegger succeeded Husserl. Even though the ostensible topic of Lévinas’s dissertation The Theory of Intuition in Husserl’s Phenomenology, published in 1930, was Husserl’s thought, Heidegger’s influence is pronounced. Moreover, Husserl and Heidegger remain essential interlocutors in Lévinas’s later works, such as Totality and Infinity (1969) and Otherwise than Being or Beyond Essence (1974), in which he attempts to develop an independent phenomenological ethics centring on the notion of respect for the other human being. Jean-Paul Sartre’s (1906-1980) phenomenological magnum opus Being and Nothingness, published in 1943, draws upon Husserl, Heidegger, and Hegel, in an attempt to articulate a radical distinction between consciousness, which Sartre labels ‘Being-for-itself’, and all types of objective being, which he collects under the heading ‘Being-in-itself’ (Sartre 1943/1956). Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s (1908-1961) phenomenology of body and perception, elaborated in the 1945 masterpiece Phenomenology of Perception, is to some extent a continuation of Husserl’s later works. But Heidegger’s influence is also tangible, not least in Merleau-Ponty’s contention that the phenomenon of human embodiment is an aspect of the structure that Heidegger calls ‘Being-in-the-world’ (Merleau-Ponty 1945/1962).

The influence of phenomenology, however, extends beyond philosophy. Philosophical phenomenology offers general ideas of relevance to the social sciences (anthropology, economy, law, political science, and so on). But in addition to this, there are phenomenological traditions in psychology and psychiatry, and, more relevant in the present context, there is a distinct phenomenological approach to sociology, which was developed by Alfred Schutz (1899-1959) and his students. Schutz’s main inspiration was drawn from Husserl’s later thoughts on intersubjectivity and the life-world.

Phenomenology and Intersubjectivity

It is sometimes claimed that phenomenology has nothing valuable to offer sociology. Jürgen Habermas, for example, accuses Husserl’s philosophy – and by extension phenomenology as such (Habermas 1992:42) – of being solipsistic, that is, of being able to conceive of the existence of only one single subject (solusipse is Latin for ‘only I’). Thereby, Habermas obviously questions the relevance of phenomenology for social thought in general.

However, there is reason to regard Habermas’ claim with a good deal of scepticism. For the criticism seems based on a misunderstanding of the phenomenological perspective on sociality. Instead of viewing the individual and society – or subjectivity and sociality – as mutually exclusive options, phenomenology explicitly attempts to combine them. Husserl’s claim that a subject can only be a world-experiencing subjectivity insofar as it is member of a community of subjects (Husserl 1995:139) suggests a key phenomenological claim: the individual subject qua world-experiencing is dependent on other world-experiencing subjects. But on the other hand, one should not downplay the role of the individual subject. Phenomenology insists on understanding sociality in its most fundamental form as intersubjectivity (see Zahavi 2001a). It only makes sense to speak of intersubjectivity if there is a (possible) plurality of subjects, and intersubjectivity can therefore neither precede nor be the foundation of the individuality and distinctness of the various subjects. Thus, one cannot invoke the notion of intersubjectivity without committing oneself to some form of philosophy of subjectivity. Yet, on the other hand, Husserl maintains that a sufficiently radical and thorough phenomenological reflection not only leads us to subjectivity, but also to intersubjectivity (Husserl 1962:344). Accordingly, he sometimes refers to his project as that of sociological transcendental philosophy (Husserl 1962:539), and states that a full elaboration of transcendental philosophy necessarily involves the move from an egological to a transcendental-sociological phenomenology (see Zahavi 1996, 2001b).

The Life-World

As part of their ongoing concern with the relation between science and experience, phenomenologists have often emphasized the importance of the ‘life-world’. The life-world is the world we ordinarily take for granted, the pre-scientific, experientially given world that we are familiar with and never call into question. The life-world needs rehabilitating because, although it is the historical and systematic sense-foundation for science, the latter has forgotten or ignored the life-world. Even the most exact and abstract scientific theories rely on the type of pre-scientific evidence that the life-world offers. And life-worldly evidence does not merely function as an indispensable but otherwise irrelevant station that we must pass through on the way toward exact knowledge; rather, it is a permanent source of meaning and evidence (Husserl 1970:126). In pursuit of exact knowledge, science has made a virtue of its radical transcendence of bodily, sensory, and practical experience, but thereby it has overlooked the extent to which it is made possible by those kinds of experience. When experiments are designed and conducted, when measurements are noted down, when results are interpreted, compared and discussed, scientists rely on the common life-world and its common kinds of evidence. Even though scientific theories transcend the concrete, perceptible life-world in terms of precision and degree of abstraction, the life-world remains the meaningful foundation and ultimate source of evidence (Husserl 1970:126). However, the relation between science and the life-world is not static but dynamic. Science is founded on the life-world, and bit-by-bit it may, as it were, sink into the ground on which it stands. With the passing of time, theoretical assumptions and results may be absorbed by everyday practice and become part of the life-world.

When phenomenologists emphasize the significance of the life-world it is not at the expense of science. Phenomenologists have no desire to deny the immense value of science, and they agree that science has the potential to profoundly expand and alter our conception of reality. They do reject, however, the tendency within the natural sciences to advocate scientism and objectivism. A critical attitude towards the scientist self-image of science is one thing, and hostility toward science as such is a very different thing. Phenomenology has none of the latter. It is no coincidence that a famous manifesto of Husserl’s was entitled Philosophy as a Strict Science.

According to scientism, it is natural science alone that decides what is real; reality is thus identical with what can be conceived and explained by natural science. Historically, reflections of this kind led to the claim that only the form, size, weight and movement of an object – that is, those characteristics that, in principle, could be described quantitatively with mathematical exactness – were objective properties. On this view, colour, taste, smell, and so on, were considered merely subjective phenomena that lacked real, objective existence. In the course of centuries, this classical distinction between primary (or objective) qualities and secondary (or subjective) qualities has consistently been radicalized. Ultimately, it was not merely the objectivity of certain characteristics of the appearing object that was questioned, but rather the objectivity of anything that appears. The appearance or manifestation as such was regarded as subjective, and it was this appearance, this phenomenal manifestation as such, which science, according to its understanding of itself, had to reach beyond in order to achieve knowledge of the real nature of things. A consequence of this view is that the world in which we live is very different from the world that the exact sciences describe, the latter having an exclusive claim to reality. The life-world, by contrast, is a mere construction, a result of our response to the stimuli we receive from physical reality.

Phenomenology, however, rejects the idea that natural science is the sole judge of what is real and what is not, and that all concepts that we wish to take seriously must be reducible to concepts of the exact sciences. According to phenomenology, the exact sciences do not describe a world that is different from the ordinary world. Rather, they simply employ new methods to describe and explain the world we already know and thereby enable us to obtain more precise knowledge about it. The scientific ambition of describing reality objectively – that is, from a third-person point of view – is a thoroughly legitimate one. Yet, one should not forget that any objectivity, any explanation, understanding and theoretical construct, presupposes a first-person perspective as its permanent ground and precondition. To that extent the belief that science can provide an absolute description of reality – a description purged of any conceptual or experiential perspective – is an illusion. Science is rooted in the life-world: it draws upon insights from the pre-scientific sphere and it is conducted by embodied subjects. For the phenomenologists, science is not simply a collection of systematically related, well- established propositions. Rather, science is something that people do; it is a particular – markedly theoretical – way of relating to the world.

Phenomenology does not attempt to explain human nature through science. Rather, it aims to make sense of scientific rationality and practice through detailed analyses of the cognizing subject’s various forms of intentional experience. A central task is thus to give an account of how the theoretical attitude that we adopt when we are doing science – including sociology – arises out of, as well as influences and changes, our everyday ‘Being-in-the- world’. The phenomenological examination of the life-world obviously constitutes an important part of this project. Husserl himself articulated the basic ideas for such an analysis, and other phenomenologists such as Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty, made important contributions. All of these thinkers, however, considered the analysis of the life-world a mere part of a larger philosophical project. A more independent interest in the phenomenology of the life-world – in particular its social structure – is found, above all, in Alfred Schutz and his successors within phenomenological sociology.

Phenomenology and Ethnomethodology

Martin Heidegger

Hermeneutic-Phenomenology 

The word hermeneutics is derived from ancient Greece (Hermes, the messenger). The origin of hermeneutics was in the interpretation of ancient texts, originally scriptural (exegis) and later the study of ancient and classic cultures. From medieval times hermeneutics included the study of law and the interpretation of judgements in the context of when and where the judgement was made with an attempt to take into account social and cultural mores of the times. In contemporary management research, marketing academics in particular are comfortable with hermeneutic phenomenology as a research methodology and the term is used for qualitative studies in which interviews with one or a few people are analyzed and interpreted.

Philosophers whose inspiration is more ontological, such as Heidegger, emphasize the uncovering of Being from the perspective of the experiencing human being, and how the world is revealed to this experiencing entity within a realm of things whereas the pragmatist school as epitomized by Mead concentrate on the development of the self and the objectivity of the world within the social realm, “the individual mind can exist only in relation to other minds with shared meanings” (Mead, 1934 p 5).

Heidegger’s philosophical hermeneutics shifted the focus from interpretation to existential understanding, which was treated more as a direct, non-mediated, way of being in the world than simply as a way of knowing (Heidegger, 1927). For example, Heidegger called for a “special hermeneutic of empathy” to dissolve the classic philosophic issue of “other minds” by putting the issue in the context of the being-with of human relatedness. Heidegger used the word texts to cover written and spoken expression and suggested it is a tautology that the written or spoken word cannot be studied using positivistic numerical methods. In the 21st century ‘‘texts’’ has expanded to include all forms of multi-media including the people who produce them. As texts are expressions of the experience of the author, in the Heidegger tradition interpretation of a text will reveal something about the social context in which it was formed, and more significantly, provide the reader with a means to share the experiences of the author. The reciprocity between text and context is part of what Heidegger called the hermeneutic circle (Weber, 1920; Heidegger 1927; Agosta, 2010). Gadamer, a celebrated student of Heidegger, goes further to assert that methodical contemplation and reflection is the opposite of experience on its own and that truth comes from understanding and mastering our experience. Gadamer claims experience is not static but is always changing with hints of further changes. He sees the growth of individual comprehension as being important. With continued improved, and hopefully enlightened, comprehension prejudice is a non fixed reflection of our growing comprehension. There are obvious examples of changes in prejudice over the last 50 years (e.g. legalisation of same sex marriages). Gadamer sees that being alien to a particular tradition is a condition of understanding and he further asserts that we can never step outside of our tradition; all we can do is try to understand it. This further elaborates the continuous nature of the hermeneutic circle (Gadamer 1960; Agosta, 2010)

Heidegger’’s hermeneutics is not just a matter of understanding linguistic communication. Nor is it about providing a methodological basis for research. As far as Heidegger is concerned, hermeneutics is ontology; it is about the most fundamental conditions of man’s being in the world. The hermeneutics of ““facticity””, as he called it, is primarily what philosophy is all about (Heidegger, 1927).

This reflects back on Heidegger’s definition of terms such as understanding, interpretation, and assertion. Understanding, in Heidegger’s account, is neither a method of reading nor the outcome of a carefully conducted procedure of critical reflection. It is not something we consciously do or fail to do, but something we are. Understanding is a mode of being, and as such it is characteristic of human being, of Dasein. We have a pragmatic basic intuitive understanding of the world as we see it. This understanding of our life world is limited by the manner in which we, without consciously thinking and without theoretical considerations, orient ourselves in the world. Heidegger argues, we do not understand the world by gathering a collection of neutral facts by which we may reach a set of universal propositions, laws, or judgments that, to a greater or lesser extent, corresponds to the world as it is, ergo life world is only our conception of the world. Through the synthesizing activity of understanding, the world is disclosed as a totality of meaning, a space in which Dasein is at home. Dasein is distinguished by its self-interpretatory endeavors. Dasein is a being whose being is the issue. Fundamentally Dasein is embedded in the world and therefore it is not possible to understand ourselves or others without knowing the world, and the world cannot be understood if Dasein is ignored (Heidegger 1927, Gadamer 1960, Agosta 2010).

Phenomenology of the Social

  • Phenomenology – Hermenutics
  • Phenomenological Sociology
  • Mundane Phenomenology
  • Intersubjectivity
  • Phenomenology + Symbolic Interactionism
  • First Person + Second Person
  • Life world
  • I and We
  • I and Me
  • Being in the World

Symbolic interactionism

  • George Herbert Mead / University of Chicago
  • Charles Cooley
  • Herbert Blumer /Chicago School
  • Two other important schools of thought are those of the ‘Iowa school’ and the ‘Indiana School’, represented by Manford Kuhn and Sheldon Stryker respectively. Both of them gave alternative methodologies to what had been proposed by Blumer. They were more inclined to go for positivist, quantitative methods. 
  • ERVING GOFFMAN AND THE DRAMATURGICAL APPROACH

Source: Symbolic Interactionism in Sociology of Education Textbooks in Mainland China: Coverage, Perspective and Implications

2. A Historical Review on Symbolic Interactionism

Symbolic interactionism is arguably one of the primary theoretical traditions in the discipline of sociology (Collins, 1994). According to the interactionists, the fundamention of symbolic interactionism is the manner in which the individual is connected to the social structure and the possible interplay between the individual and others. The interactionist perspective maintains that human beings engage in social action on the basis of meanings acquired from social sources, including their own experience. These meanings are both learned from others and to some extent shaped or reshaped by those using the symbols. As humans learn and use symbols and develop meanings for objects in their social contexts, they develop a “mind” that is both reflecting and relexive. Mind is not a structure but a process that emerges from humans’ efforts to adjust to their environment (Turner,2004:345). Sociologists who identify themselves as interactionist would agree that the central figure in this tradition is George Herbert Mead (1863-1931), who made the great breakthrough in understanding the basic properties of human social interaction. A crucial concept of Mead is the self. The self and the mind are dialectically related to one another, neither can exist without the other. Thus, one cannot take oneself as an object (think about oneself) without a mind, and one cannot have a mind, have a conversation with oneself, without a self (Ritzer, 2004:56). Basic to the self is reflexivity, or the ability to put ourselves in others’ places, humans are both actors and reactors and the human sense of “self” is a product and process, as the self is simultaneously shaped by the larger society.

In addition to providing discussions of many elements about the relationship between the society and the individual, Mead articulates the origins and actions of the self. He argues that the self is comprised of two componets which allow for both dialectical and reflexive processes. According to Mead (2005), the part of the self that takes the attitudes of others is termed the “me”. However, we can never predict exactly how their responses may play out. We have a general feel for the way in which interactions take place. Yet, it remains possible for someone to react in an unexpected manner.

This reaction to a stimuli arising during interaction is the “I” and is made possible because of the “me” (Taylor, 1997). As Ritzer’s (2004:59) statement, “we are never totally aware of the I, with the result that we sometimes surprise ourselves with our actions.”

Given Mead’s dichotomous approach to the architecture of the self, it is not surprising that two rather distinct views of symbolic interactionism have developed over the past decades: one emphasizes aspects and consequences of the “I”, the other emphasizes aspects and consequences of the “me”. These two views of symbolic interactionism are often referred to, respectively, as the Chiago school and the Iowa school of symbolic interaction theory.

2.1 The Chicago School

The central figure and major exponent of Chicago school is Herbert Blumer(1900-1987), who coined the label “symbolic interaction”. According to Collins, in Blumer’s hands, symbolic interactionism turned into a full-fledged dynamic sociology (Yu, 2002:159).

In his writings, Blumer championed a position and a methodology that emphasized the processes associated with the Meadian “I” (Blumer, 1969). In his view, Mead’s picture of the human being as an actor differs radically from the conception of man that dominates current psychological and social science. Mead simply meant that the human being is an object to himself. The human being may perceive himself, have conceptions of himself, communicate with himself, and act toward himself (Blumer, 1966). Meanwhile, such self-interaction takes the form of making indications to himself and meeting these indications by making further indications.

As mentioned, Blumer and his followers pay special attention to how humans interpret and define actions of their own and others. The focus of Chicago school interaction theory is on the reflecting, creative, acting self, which is constantly apprehending meaning for objects in the environment while simultaneously altering those meanings in service of larger issues of the self (Blumer, 1969). For Blumer, it is not possible to study the structure of a society through the use of variables because this would imply a relationship of causation, which would be impossible since anything is capable of being instantly redefined. Therefore, fixed social variables are impossible to measure, and any attempts to explain human social behavior with such constructions are unproductive. In addition, Gusfield (2003) tackles characters of symbolic interactionism and presents his understandings which are most valuable guidelines:

Whatever SI may be to my readers, for me it was not and is not today a theory in the sense of a body of thought providing substantive generalizations or abstracted propositions about some social activity. There are no substantive predictions or explanations to which it confidently leads. In fact, … “The Methodological Position of Symbolic Interactionism”(1969), Blumer refers to SI as an choose to call it a “perspective” or a “way of seeing,” both terms central to the writings of another and major influence on me, Kenneth Burke. Four aspects of this symbolic interactionist “way of seeing” seem significant in my thinking and in my work: meaning; interaction, emergence, and situatedness; language and symbolism; and the humanistic thrust. (Gusfield, 2003)

In sum, Blumer and those who follow in his disciplinary footsteps are primarily attuned to the actions and consequences of Mead’s “I”. Throughout the development of the discipline of sociology, the Chicago school has dominated the analysis and understanding on interactionist theory by most sociologists. Yet developing parallel to this view was another version of the theory, the Iowa school which placed more emphasis on the ways in which features of the social structure influence and shape common meanings.

2.2 The Iowa School

The most influential advocate of the Iowa school of symbolic interaction is Manford Kuhn (1911-1963), who studied with Kimball Young in the Universtity of Wisconsin and was on the faculty of the University of Iowa from 1946 to 1963. Unlike other interactionists, especially Blumer, Kuhn focuses on the processes associated with Mead’s “me” and incorporates role theory (Stryker and Statham, 1985). He points out “ambiguities and contradictions” in the work of Mead while he sharply criticized other interactionists for interpreting then as “dark, inscrutable complexities too difficult to understand”(Kuhn, 1964a).

Kuhn and his students put Mead’s concept of the self at the cornerstone of their approach to understand human behavior. They saw the social object self as firmly lodged in an actor’s social group memberships and activities, and thus as stable as these memberships and activities. Furthermore, consistent with Mead, they saw the self as an object present in all social activity. They were guided by the belief that if the structure of selves could be understood, it would aid in the development of a general theory of social behavior. (Buban, 1986:27)

The Iowa school has been subjected to severe criticism from other interactionists. In particular, Kuhn was accused of grossly distorting Mead’s position by conceptualizing the self as a permanent, imprinted structure that determines behavior. This notion is exposed in the chief research tool developed by Kuhn and his colleagues, which is a pencil-and-paper measure of self-attitudes known as the Twenty Statements Test (TST) (Kuhn and McPartland, 1954).

While it is true that the employment of the TST explicitly treats the self as a structure, a perusal of Kuhn’s work reveals 15

that he was well aware of the fact that as social situations change, persons’ self attitudes also change (Kuhn, 1964b). According to this apparent contradiction, Kuhn was simply reacting to a belief that other interactionists, Blumer in particular, had distorted the concept self by conceptualizing it as overly fluid, as totally lacking any order or structure:

Some theorists … discuss self-change as if it were most volatile and evanescent; the self shifts with each new indiction one makes to himself, and these indications are the constant accompaniments of experience. (Kuhn, 1964a: 61)

Another criticism of the Iowa school is that they, in employing a pencil-and-paper measure of the self, ignored the most basic feature of human social behavior: temporal process. However, Kuhn was deeply frustrated with the general lack of advancement by symbolic interactionists toward developing a theory of social conduct. His impatience with other interactionists, especially those of the Chicago school, can be clearly observed in his classic review of the field (Kuhn, 1964a). However, for the study of interaction processes, it must be concluded that the TST research inspired by Kuhn is of virtually no value. Even though critics of the Iowa school (Meltzer et al., 1975) have made several misleading inferences regarding both Kuhn’s interpretation of Mead and Kuhn’s philosophical stance, they are quite correct in charging him with ignoring process in his research endeavors. Nevertheless, the contribution of Kuhn’s legacy must not be underestimated.

To sum up, Kuhn and those who follow in his disciplinary footsteps are primarily attuned to the actions and consequences of Mead’s “me”. Several decades later, building on the legacy of the “old” Iowa tradition, the “new” Iowa school places great emphasis on the order or structure of human interaction, which are influenced by Kuhn apparently. Also evident is Kuhn’s insistence that a theory of social life can only be built upon a solid foundation of data which has been collected in a controlled, systematic fashion.

Symboliic Interactionism

My Related Posts

Meta Integral Theories: Integral Theory, Critical Realism, and Complex Thought

Truth, Beauty, and Goodness: Integral Theory of Ken Wilber

Aesthetics and Ethics

Aesthetics and Ethics: At the Intersection

Networks, Narratives, and Interaction

Truth, Beauty, and Goodness

The Good, the True, and the Beautiful

Human Rights and Human Development

Levels of Human Psychological Development in Integral Spiral Dynamics

The Social Significance of Drama and Narrative Arts

Systems and Organizational Cybernetics

Key Sources of Research

Symbolic Interactionism and Ethnomethodology 

Alex Dennis

University of Salford

Click to access Ethnomethodology%20and%20SI.pdf

Contemporary Social Theory: An introductory overview

Simone Pulver Associate Professor, Environmental Studies UC Santa Barbara

SESYNC Sociology Immersion January 11, 2016

intersubjectivity

https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803100008603

CHAPTER 9

PHENOMENOLOGY AND SOCIOLOGY: DIVERGENT INTERPRETATIONS OF A COMPLEX RELATIONSHIP 

Thomas S. Eberle

An introduction to phenomenological research 

Stan Lester

Stan Lester Developments, Taunton

The Phenomenology of Sociality: Discovering the “We”

De Gruyter | 2017DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jso-2017-0003

https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/jso-2017-0003/html

MODERN SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY

AUTHOR-SUBRATA SATHPATHY

The Phenomenological Understanding of Social Life

Asst. Prof. Kire Sharlamanov,

International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research, Volume 4, Issue 5, May-2013 1924 ISSN 2229-5518

What is Sociology?

Interactionism

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interactionism

Phenomenology (sociology)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phenomenology_(sociology)

Interpretative Research Paradigms: Points of Difference

Nevan Wright and Erwin Losekoot
Auckland University of Technology (AUT) Auckland, New Zealand

Symbolic interaction theory

Nilgun Aksana*, Buket Kısaca, Mufit Aydına, Sumeyra Demirbuken

Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences 1 (2009) 902–904

https://pdf.sciencedirectassets.com/277811/1-s2.0-S1877042809X00029/1-s2.0-S1877042809001633/main.pdf?X-Amz-Security-Token=IQoJb3JpZ2luX2VjEOr%2F%2F%2F%2F%2F%2F%2F%2F%2F%2FwEaCXVzLWVhc3QtMSJHMEUCIQDvUPrYJ%2Bifr%2F3zzUcHp5ZRKyC%2Baxhco%2FyoQnxA4gojIQIgCIsDsSWo40HsIuViIGZmHZmk6LNWehe1dwtNW7fHVvUqtAMIUhADGgwwNTkwMDM1NDY4NjUiDFubUrXGlnH0BEYxDCqRA7A54VEOLYiiss5nDLp2wnndbuISUMBpew3kpnX0wNlgVbFKhK3KGXIMLAYnc%2BbD3730d2S%2BbA8Zfv46saq01klK33yctc0cXAj0yeS8QOqf456jwmdDn74SZlVXnWQXoKD3CyPSVk1b2ZKSLAzRroQo5blte1bWnIvQMOQoVcpbcGtVkYoUX%2FvpRnElSw3xtiqknWG7rtQ91KrsYX1XivNIMC%2FQYiEuCqxtQTm9a3XmNL1WyqiBQRENTjlHRs0UF67yTFNbB1qDKg80mR7Trkue6n1G7RCUf%2Fz2cjWM5QSU803xrmDeIv%2BZC0SwU7T5NiRlZVLhAIy3EdGF2XkidMuORnPW2oE%2F4kvsDEZqFg2%2FFHiEgJqEZ6xNLyR9DifuWo%2Bia7Y1gafjctuJp7h2vt85CcSy6U%2Fhy64dH26JE1Z4fov2kNzEyx8IDZmbgCXvEejRokHtHTYpzo918n7YNkeJuymccXIFCgdJwgZu%2FLflAVWNAVZyzPhnIYlHnnCkPTvS%2FyziKBRxTkfQa8I79H3AMKSO7oMGOusBg8%2BYJCLRev8QYmmhZY30c09MBrX3fvQLUDmo4CEcrM1c%2Bo9sNmiMzhSvt8FhrMkFvjFusM3Xj7Hs0K9wJiit3WXPSHA1H1XwsWzBlI0jU19DpkG54XjXDId9TsDfMqK23n6Ium9Zaqpie8n%2BOD%2FkHKal7vUoV1Kcfod27Zg2JXfk7Jt9srMYLzBQtxguJQVxI9TGfYHWmj85NPu%2BgaqGH8dAp3vCmeP3QO%2BQNPXOHWhqSXfTlmWtB8WHW%2FE8AQw5EMbhVlLaF%2B0DDyHYz4syU0ZuZic0H%2BrfYXPgXDCax6hpKUtsPW7I%2FhBVwA%3D%3D&X-Amz-Algorithm=AWS4-HMAC-SHA256&X-Amz-Date=20210418T025530Z&X-Amz-SignedHeaders=host&X-Amz-Expires=299&X-Amz-Credential=ASIAQ3PHCVTY3R5HQX6U%2F20210418%2Fus-east-1%2Fs3%2Faws4_request&X-Amz-Signature=770d1586933cc0a74e47348366305b59c4a5ca319c7c572d0f09b9575df819f2&hash=3150a1a60eb66989c786834008d4fd76866c095eac627a725727cc9beb06611b&host=68042c943591013ac2b2430a89b270f6af2c76d8dfd086a07176afe7c76c2c61&pii=S1877042809001633&tid=spdf-614fb83f-3df0-46ee-8313-ee5270301110&sid=84b03a564f10d247c01ab4f3ba887aff47c1gxrqa&type=client

The phenomenology and development of social perspectives 

Thomas Fuchs

UNIT 6 SYMBOLIC INTERACTIONISM

Click to access Unit-6.pdf

The cyberself: the self-ing project goes online, symbolic interaction in the digital age

Laura Robinson

New Media Society 2007; 9; 93 DOI: 10.1177/1461444807072216

Click to access Robinson_Cyberself.pdf

Blumer’s symbolic interactionism: Methodological implications.

Jan Spurway Marks University of Windsor

1971

Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 6691.
https://scholar.uwindsor.ca/etd/6691

Symbolic Interactionism and Ethnomethodology 

Alex Dennis

University of Salford

Symbolic Interaction, Vol. 34, No. 3 (Summer 2011), pp. 349-356

Click to access Ethnomethodology%20and%20SI.pdf

Basic Concepts of Symbolic Interactionism

John Hewitt, Self & Society, 9th Edition, Allyn & Bacon, 2002.

Click to access Basic%20Tenets%20of%20Symbolic%20Interactionsim.pdf

Symbolic Interactionism in Sociology of Education Textbooks in Mainland China: Coverage, Perspective and Implications

Xuan Dong
College of Education Administration, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China Tel: 86-10-5880-1300 E-mail: xuandong@live.cn

Symbolic Interactionism 

Mark V. Redmond

Iowa State University, mredmond@iastate.edu

English Technical Reports and White Papers. 4.

http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/engl_reports/4

Symbolic interactionism

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symbolic_interactionism

Introducing Social Psychology and Symbolic Interactionism

George Herbert Mead

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/mead/

Phenomenological Sociology – The Subjectivity of Everyday Life

Søren Overgaard & Dan Zahavi

George Herbert Mead (1863—1931)

George Herbert Mead

https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/George_Herbert_Mead

George Herbert Mead

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Herbert_Mead

Networks, Narratives, and Interaction

Networks, Narratives, and Interaction

Bruner (1973: xi) described this duality as follows:“our knowledge of the world is not merely a mirroring or reflection of order and structure ‘out there,’ but consists rather of a construct or model that can, so to speak, be spun a bit ahead of things to predict how the world will be or might be”

Key Terms

  • Narratives
  • Culture
  • Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Meaning
  • Meaning making
  • Networks
  • Boundaries
  • Folk Culture
  • Communication
  • Sensemaking
  • Active Learning
  • Karl Weick
  • Dirk Baecker
  • Jerome Bruner
  • Erving Goffman
  • George Spencer Brown
  • Charles Sanders Peirce
  • Social Interactions
  • Strategic Interactions
  • Cultural Psychology
  • Systems
  • Social Systems
  • Individual and Collective
  • Symbolic Interactions
  • Face Work
  • Face to Face
  • Micro Sociology
  • Drama
  • Kenneth Burke
  • Chain of Events
  • Sequence of Events
  • Time Space
  • Choices, Conflicts, Dilemmas
  • Constraints, Limits, Boundaries
  • Networks, Connections, Interaction
  • Social Simulation
  • Discrete Events
  • Scenes, Scenarios
  • Games and Dramas
  • Harmony
  • Colors, Tones
  • Interaction Rituals
  • Interaction Order
  • Ethnomethodology
  • LL and LR Quadrants in AQAL Model of Ken Wilber
  • Many Faces of Man
  • Backstage and Frontstage
  • Russell Ackoff’s Interaction Planning
  • Faces, Masks, and Rituals
  • Frame Analysis
  • Self and Others
  • Social Constructivism
  • Agent Based Modeling
  • Cellular Automata
  • Computational Sociology
  • Micro Motives and Macro Behavior
  • Conversations
  • Strategic Conversations
  • Boundaries and Distinctions
  • Networks and Boundaries

Jerome Bruner ON Narratives

Source: Chapter 1 Narrative Inquiry: From Story to Method

… Narrative as a mode of knowing 

In 1984 at an address to the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, Jerome Bruner challenged the psychological community to consider the possibilities of narrative as one of two distinct and distinctive modes of thinking, namely the “paradigmatic” or logico-scientific mode and the narrative mode. For Bruner, each mode constituted a unique way of construing and constructing reality and of ordering experience. Importantly, neither of these modes was reducible to the other, as each was necessary in the development of human thought and action. Taking up these ideas in later writings, Bruner (1986) presents the narrative mode of meaning-making as one that “looks for particular conditions and is centred around the broader and more inclusive question of the meaning of experience” (p. 11), whilst the paradigmatic mode is characterised as one that is more concerned with establishing universal truth conditions.

Bruner has pursued the notion of “narrative” modes of thinking and explored the ways in which we draw on “narrative” modes of knowing as a learning process (1996a). For Bruner, we construct our understandings of the world “mainly in the form of narrative – stories, excuses, myths, reasons for doing and not doing, and so on” (2003, p. 44). In earlier writings, he points to the power and import of narrative as a meaning-making process, commenting that “our capacity to render experience in terms of narrative is not just child’s play, but an instrument for making meaning that dominates much of life in culture – from soliloquies at bedtime to the weighing of testimony in our legal system” (1990, p. 97). Importantly, Bruner suggests that our “sensitivity” to narrative constitutes a major link between our “sense of self and our sense of others in the social world around us” (1986, p. 69) and is the mode through which we “create a version of the world” with which we can live (1996a, p. 39).

Bruner’s work in the field of cognitive psychology constitutes one way in which narrative has been conceptualised within scholarship and has led to the establishment of the field of narrative psychology. It is perhaps serendipitous that Bruner’s account of the narrative mode of thinking occurred at a time of growing interest in the ways in which narrative might be drawn upon for research and inquiry purposes. As educators and scholars took up the “call of stories” (Coles, 1989) to provide alternative means to explore, interrogate, interpret, and record experience, “it helped that the messenger was Bruner, an enormously powerful scholar with unusual cross-disciplinary knowledge, stature, and impact, who ventured to articulate what narrative could mean to the social sciences at large” (Bresler, 2006, p. 23). Crucially, Bruner’s work leads us to consider narrative as more than a means of presenting meaning and to consider the role of narrative and narrative forms in “re-presenting,” in the sense of constructing meaning, both individually and collectively. For Bruner, narrative operates simultaneously in both thought and action, shaping the ways in which we conceive and respond to our worlds. In short, all cognition, whatever its nature, relies upon representation, how we lay down our knowledge in a way to represent our experience of the world . . . representation is a process of construction, as it were, rather than of mere reflection of the world (Bruner, 1996b, p. 95).

Here, a narrative might become a “template for experience” (Bruner, 2002, p. 34) that works on the mind, modelling “not only its world but the minds seeking to give it its meanings” (p. 27). This move from narrative as “story presented” to narrative as a “form of meaning-making,” indeed, a form of “mind-making,” has played an important role in the development of narrative as a method of inquiry in the social sciences.

Source: INTRODUCTION: BRUNER’S WAY/ David Bakhurst and Stuart G. Shanker

Another reason why Bruner is an ideal focus is his role in two crucial paradigm shifts in twentieth-century psychology. In the 1950s, he was an instrumental figure in the cognitive revolution, which restored to psychology the inner life of the mind after decades of arid behaviourist objectivism. Cognitive psychology prospered and, in league with other fields, evolved into ‘cognitive science’, conceived as a systematic inter- disciplinary approach to the study of mind (see Gardner, 1985). Bruner, however, gradually grew more and more dissatisfied with what cognitivism had become. In 1990, he published Acts of Meaning, in which he argued that the cognitive revolution had betrayed the impulse that had brought it into being. The revolution’s principal concern, Bruner argued, had been to return the concept of meaning to the forefront of psychological theorizing. But cognitivism had become so enamoured of computational models of the mind that it had replaced behaviourism’s impoverished view of the person with one no better: human beings as information processors. In response, Bruner argued forcefully that meaning is not a given, but something made by human beings as they negotiate the world. Meaning is a cultural, not computational, phenomenon. And since meaning is the medium of the mental, culture is constitutive of mind.

In many ways, Bruner’s objection was familiar. It had often been lamented that mainstream psychology was individualistic and scientistic, representing minds as self-contained mental atoms and ignoring the social and cultural influences upon them. In the last decade, however, this well-known critique has really been gaining momentum. Besides Bruner, both Richard Shweder (1990) and Michael Cole (1996) have sounded the call for a new ‘cultural psychology’. Assorted versions of ‘constructionist’ and ‘discursive’ psychology have appeared on the scene, joining a veritable chorus of diverse voices urging that psychology treat the mind as a sociocultural phenomenon (e.g., Edwards and Potter, 1992; Harré and Gillett, 1994; Gergen, 1999). It is particularly striking that these voices no longer come exclusively from the margins. Just as the left/right divide is collapsing in political theory, so the dichotomy between mainstream ‘individualistic/scientistic/Cartesian’ psychology and radical ‘communitarian/interpretative/post-Cartesian’ psychology has become outmoded. Cognitive scientists and philosophers of mind now commonly acknowledge that no plausible account of the mind can be indifferent to the context in which we think and act, and some significant works have appeared devoted to the cultural origins, and social realization, of human mentality (e.g., Donald, 1991). A psychologist interested in culture is no longer a counter-cultural figure.

Source: The narrative constitution of identity: A relational and network approach

From diverse sources it is possible to identify four features of a reframed narrativity particularly relevant for the social sciences:1) relationality of parts, 2) causal emplotment, 3) selective appropriation, and 4) temporality, sequence and place.43 Together, these dimensions suggest narratives are constellations of relationships (connected parts) embedded in time and space, constituted by causal emplotment. Unlike the attempt to produce meaning by placing an event in a specified category, narrativity precludes sense making of a singular isolated phenomenon. Narrativity demands that we discern the meaning of any single event only in temporal and spatial relationship to other events. Indeed, the chief characteristic of narrative is that it renders understanding only by connecting (however unstably) parts to a constructed configuration or a social network of relationships (however incoherent or unrealizable) composed of symbolic, institutional, and material practices 4.4

Source: CHAPTER 2 SELF-MAKING AND WORLD-MAKING

Narrative accounts must have at least two characteristics. They should center upon people and their intentional states: their desires, beliefs, and so on; and they should focus on how these intentional states led to certain kinds of activities. Such an account should also be or appear to be order preserving, in the sense of preserving or appearing to preserve sequence — the sequential properties of which life itself consists or is supposed to consist. Now, in the nature of things, if these points are correct, autobiographies should be about the past, should be par excellence the genre (or set of genres) composed in the past tense. So just for fun, we decided to find out whether in fact autobiographies were all in the past tense — both the spontaneous ones we had collected and a sample of literary autobiographies.

We have never found a single one where past-tense verbs constituted more than 70 percent of the verbs used. Autobiographies are, to be sure, about the past; but what of the 30 percent or more of their sentences that are not in the past tense? I’m sure it will be apparent without all these statistics that autobiography is not only about the past, but is busily about the present as well. If it is to bring the protagonist up to the present, it must deal with the present as well as the past — and not just at the end of the account, as it were. That is one part of it. But there is another part that is more interesting. Most of the “present-tense” aspect of autobiography has to do with what students of narrative structure call “evaluation” — the task of placing those sequential events in terms of a meaningful context. Narrative, whether looked at from the more formalistic perspective of William Labov (1982) or the more literary, historical one of Barbara Herrnstein-Smith (1986), necessarily comprises two features: one of them is telling what happened to a cast of human beings with a view to the order in which things happened. That part is greatly aided by the devices of flashback, flashforward, and the rest. But a narrative must also answer the question “Why”, “Why is this worth telling, what is interesting about it?” Not everything that happened is worth telling about, and it is not always clear why what one tells merits telling. We are bored and offended by such accounts as“I got up in the morning, got out of bed, dressed and tied my shoes, shaved, had breakfast, went off to the office and saw a graduate student who had an idea for a thesis…”

The “why tell” function imposes something of great (and hidden) significance on narrative. Not only must a narrative be about a sequence of events over time, structured comprehensibly in terms of cultural canonicality, it must also contain something that endows it with exceptionality. We had better pause for a moment and explore what this criterion of exceptionality means for autobiography and, incidentally, why it creates such a spate of present-tense clauses in the writing of autobiography.

Source: CHAPTER 2 SELF-MAKING AND WORLD-MAKING

The object of narrative, then, is to demystify deviations. Narrative solves no problems. It simply locates them in such a way as to make them comprehensible. It does so by invoking the play of psychological states and of actions that transpire when human beings interact with each other and relates these to what can usually be expected to happen. I think that Kenneth Burke has a good deal to say about this “play of psychological states” in narrative, and I think it would help to examine his ideas. In his The Grammar of Motives, he introduces the idea of “dramatism” (Burke 1945). Burke noted that dramatism was created by the interplay of five elements (he refers to them as the Pentad). These comprise an Actor who commits an Action toward a Goal with the use of some Instrument in a particular Scene. Dramatism is created, he argues, when elements of the Pentad are out of balance, lose their appropriate “ratio”. This creates Trouble, an emergent sixth element. He has much to say about what leads to the breakdown in the ratios between the elements of the dramatistic pentad. For example, the Actor and the Scene don’t fit. Nora, for example: what in the world is the rebellious Nora in A Doll’s House doing in this banal doctor’s household? Or Oedipus taking his mother Jocasta unknowingly to wife. The “appropriate ratios”, of course, are given by the canonical stances of folk psychology toward the human condition. Dramatism constitutes their patterned violation. In a classically oral culture, the great myths that circulate are the archetypal forms of violation, and these become increasingly “smoothed” and formalized — even frozen — over time, as we know from the classic studies of Russian folktales published by Vladimir Propp (1986). In more mobile literary cultures, of course, the range and variation in such tales and stories greatly increases, matching the greater complexity and widened opportunities that accompany literacy. Genres develop, new forms emerge, variety increase — at least at first. It may well be that with the emergence of mass cultures and the new massifying media, new constraints on this variation occur, but that is a topic that would take us beyond the scope of this essay (see Feldman, in this volume).

Erving Goffman On Interactionism

Source: Wikipedia

Goffman was influenced by Herbert BlumerÉmile DurkheimSigmund FreudEverett HughesAlfred Radcliffe-BrownTalcott ParsonsAlfred SchützGeorg Simmel and W. Lloyd Warner. Hughes was the “most influential of his teachers”, according to Tom Burns.[1][3][22] Gary Alan Fine and Philip Manning have said that Goffman never engaged in serious dialogue with other theorists,[1] but his work has influenced and been discussed by numerous contemporary sociologists, including Anthony GiddensJürgen Habermas and Pierre Bourdieu.[23]

Though Goffman is often associated with the symbolic interaction school of sociological thought, he did not see himself as a representative of it, and so Fine and Manning conclude that he “does not easily fit within a specific school of sociological thought”.[1] His ideas are also “difficult to reduce to a number of key themes”; his work can be broadly described as developing “a comparative, qualitative sociology that aimed to produce generalizations about human behavior”.[23][24]

Goffman made substantial advances in the study of face-to-face interaction, elaborated the “dramaturgical approach” to human interaction, and developed numerous concepts that have had a massive influence, particularly in the field of the micro-sociology of everyday life.[23][25] Much of his work was about the organization of everyday behavior, a concept he termed “interaction order”.[23][26][27] He contributed to the sociological concept of framing (frame analysis),[28] to game theory (the concept of strategic interaction), and to the study of interactions and linguistics.[23] With regard to the latter, he argued that the activity of speaking must be seen as a social rather than a linguistic construct.[29] From a methodological perspective, Goffman often employed qualitative approaches, specifically ethnography, most famously in his study of social aspects of mental illness, in particular the functioning of total institutions.[23] Overall, his contributions are valued as an attempt to create a theory that bridges the agency-and-structuredivide—for popularizing social constructionismsymbolic interactionconversation analysis, ethnographic studies, and the study and importance of individual interactions.[30][31] His influence extended far beyond sociology: for example, his work provided the assumptions of much current research in language and social interaction within the discipline of communication.[32]

Goffman defined “impression management” as a person’s attempts to present an acceptable image to those around them, verbally or nonverbally.[33] This definition is based on Goffman’s idea that people see themselves as others view them, so they attempt to see themselves as if they are outside looking in.[33] Goffman was also dedicated to discovering the subtle ways humans present acceptable images by concealing information that may conflict with the images for a particular situation, such as concealing tattoos when applying for a job in which tattoos would be inappropriate, or hiding a bizarre obsession such as collecting/interacting with dolls, which society may see as abnormal.

Goffman broke from George Herbert Mead and Herbert Blumer in that while he did not reject the way people perceive themselves, he was more interested in the actual physical proximity or the “interaction order” that molds the self.[33] In other words, Goffman believed that impression management can be achieved only if the audience is in sync with a person’s self-perception. If the audience disagrees with the image someone is presenting then their self-presentation is interrupted. People present images of themselves based on how society thinks they should act in a particular situation. This decision how to act is based on the concept of definition of the situation. Definitions are all predetermined and people choose how they will act by choosing the proper behavior for the situation they are in. Goffman also draws from William Thomas for this concept. Thomas believed that people are born into a particular social class and that the definitions of the situations they will encounter have already been defined for them.[33] For instance. when an individual from an upper-class background goes to a black-tie affair, the definition of the situation is that they must mind their manners and act according to their class.

In 2007 by The Times Higher Education Guide listed Goffman as the sixth most-cited author in the humanities and social sciences, behind Anthony Giddens and ahead of Habermas.[2] His popularity with the general public has been attributed to his writing style, described as “sardonic, satiric, jokey”,[31] and as “ironic and self-consciously literary”,[34] and to its being more accessible than that of most academics.[35] His style has also been influential in academia, and is credited with popularizing a less formal style in academic publications.[31] Interestingly, if he is rightly so credited, he may by this means have contributed to a remodelling of the norms of academic behaviour, particularly of communicative action, arguably liberating intellectuals from social restraints unnatural to some of them.

His students included Carol Brooks Gardner, Charles Goodwin, Marjorie Goodwin, John Lofland, Gary Marx, Harvey SacksEmanuel Schegloff, David Sudnow and Eviatar Zerubavel.[1]

Despite his influence, according to Fine and Manning there are “remarkably few scholars who are continuing his work”, nor has there been a “Goffman school”; thus his impact on social theory has been simultaneously “great and modest”.[30] Fine and Manning attribute the lack of subsequent Goffman-style research and writing to the nature of his style, which they consider very difficult to duplicate (even “mimic-proof”), and also to his subjects’ not being widely valued in the social sciences.[3][30] Of his style, Fine and Manning remark that he tends to be seen either as a scholar whose style is difficult to reproduce, and therefore daunting to those who might wish to emulate it, or as a scholar whose work was transitional, bridging the work of the Chicago school and that of contemporary sociologists, and thus of less interest to sociologists than the classics of either of those groups.[24][30] Of his subjects, Fine and Manning observe that the topic of behavior in public places is often stigmatized as trivial and unworthy of serious scholarly attention.[30]

Nonetheless, Fine and Manning note that Goffman is “the most influential American sociologist of the twentieth century”.[36] Elliott and Turner see him as “a revered figure—an outlaw theorist who came to exemplify the best of the sociological imagination”, and “perhaps the first postmodern sociological theorist”.[14]

Source: Looking back on Goffman: The excavation continues

The “descent of the ego,” then, was witnessed by both Durkheim and Goffman in terms of the mechanisms at work in modem Western society whereby the tendencies toward an unbridled egoistic individualism are continually rebuffed (Chriss, 1993). MacCannell successfully makes the case for such a Durkheim-Goffman link through a semiotic sociology which resists the temptation of explaining in solely positivistic terms why it is that in modem Western society, imbued as it is with a strong ethic of individualism, we nevertheless see persons orienting their actions toward a perceived moral universe and the accommodation of the other. Like Durkheim and many of the great students of society from Plato to Hobbes, from Kant to Parsons, Goffman was ultimately concerned with the question, how is social order possible (Berger, 1973: 356; Collins, 1980: 173)?

Burns recognizes the Durkheim-Goffman link as well, but carries the analysis even further by comparing and contrasting Durkheim’s notion of social order with Goffman’s interaction order. Durkheim’s sui generis reality was society; Goffman’s is the encounters between individuals, or the social act itself. The moral order which pervades society and sustains individual conduct constitutes a “social fact” in both Durkheim’s and Goffman’s eyes. But Burns (1992) notes also that for Durkheim this order was·seen as durable and all-sustaining, whereas for Goffman “it was fragile, impermanent, full of unexpected holes, and in constant need of repair” (p.26).

my Related Posts

Boundaries and Relational Sociology

Boundaries and Distinctions

Boundaries and Networks

Society as Communication: Social Systems Theory of Niklas Luhmann

Third and Higher Order Cybernetics

Autocatalysis, Autopoiesis and Relational Biology

Relational Turn in Economic Geography

Cybernetics, Autopoiesis, and Social Systems Theory

Truth, Beauty, and Goodness: Integral Theory of Ken Wilber

Systems and Organizational Cybernetics

A Unifying Model of Arts

Ratio Club: A Brief History of British Cyberneticians

Micro Motives, Macro Behavior: Agent Based Modeling in Economics

On Holons and Holarchy

Reflexivity, Recursion, and Self Reference

The Social Significance of Drama and Narrative Arts

Socio-Cybernetics and Constructivist Approaches

Drama Therapy: Self in Performance

Narrative Psychology: Language, Meaning, and Self

Psychology of Happiness: Value of Storytelling and Narrative Plays

Drama Theory: Choices, Conflicts and Dilemmas

Drama Theory: Acting Strategically

Key Sources of Research

The Oxford Handbook of Culture and Psychology

edited by Jaan Valsiner

Culture in Mind: Cognition, Culture, and the Problem of Meaning

By Bradd Shore

Erving Goffman on Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erving_Goffman

On Face-Work
An Analysis of Ritual Elements in Social Interaction

Erving Goffman
Pages 213-231 | Published online: 08 Nov 2016
https://doi.org/10.1080/00332747.1955.11023008

Chapter in Book Interaction Ritual: Essays on Face to Face Behavior

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00332747.1955.11023008

Click to access Goffman,%20Erving%20%27On%20Face-work%27.pdf

Interaction Ritual: Essays on Face-To-Face Behavior

E. Goffman

Published 1967

https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Interaction-Ritual%3A-Essays-on-Face-To-Face-Behavior-Goffman/976f5fcc01b26ec011790d419eb471eb7beb13f8

 

Encounters: Two Studies in the Sociology of Interaction.

Goffman, Erving. 1961

Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill.

The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. 

Goffman, Erving. 1959. 

New York: Doubleday Anchor.

Strategic interaction.

Goffman, Erving (1969), 

Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania.

Frame analysis: An essay on the organization of experience.

Goffman, E. (1974). 

New York: Harper & Row.

Sociology. Narrative psychology: Internet and resource guide. 

Hevern, V. W. (2004, Apr). 

Retrieved [3/15/2021] from the Le Moyne College Web site: http://web.lemoyne.edu/~hevern/nr-soc.html

http://web.lemoyne.edu/~hevern/narpsych/nr-soc.html

Narrative scenarios: Toward a culturally thick notion of narrative. 

Brockmeier, J. (2012). 

In J. Valsiner (Ed.), Oxford library of psychology. The Oxford handbook of culture and psychology (p. 439–467). Oxford University Press.

https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2012-04461-020

Erving Goffman

https://monoskop.org/Erving_Goffman

Looking back on Goffman: The excavation continues

James J. Chriss 

Cleveland State University

1993

Sociology & Criminology Faculty Publications. 98.
https://engagedscholarship.csuohio.edu/clsoc_crim_facpub/98

Beyond Goffman: Studies on Communication, Institution, and Social Interaction

1990

Erving Goffman: Exploring,the interaction order 

(1988)

Tom Burns’s Erving Goffman

(1992)

Chapter 1
Narrative Inquiry: From Story to Method

Troubling Certainty

Margaret S. Barrett and Sandra L. Stauffer

In Narrative Inquiry in Music Education

DOI 10.1007/978-1-4020-9862-8  

Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

INTRODUCTION: BRUNER’S WAY

David Bakhurst and Stuart G. Shanker

In Jerome Bruner: Language, Culture, Self

Edited by
David Bakhurst and Stuart G. Shanker

Sage Publications, 2001

Analyzing Narratives and Story-Telling

Matti Hyvärinen

THE SAGE HANDBOOK OF SOCIAL RESEARCH METHODS

The narrative constitution of identity: A relational and network approach

MARGARET R. SOMERS

Universityof Michigan

TheoryandSociety23: 605-649, 1994

https://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/43649/11186_2004_Article_BF00992905.pdf?sequence=1

Cognitive–Linguistic and Constructivist Mnemonic Triggers in Teaching Based on Jerome Bruner’s Thinking

Jari Metsämuuronen1* and Pekka Räsänen2

  • 1Department of Pedagogy, NLA University College, Bergen, Norway
  • 2Niilo Mäki Institute, Jyväskylä, Finland

Front. Psychol., 12 December 2018 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02543

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02543/full

Storytelling and the Construction of Realities

Paul Stoller

Etnofoor Vol. 30, No. 2, Race-ism (2018), pp. 107-112 

The Construction of Identity in the Narratives of Romance and Comedy

Kevin Murray 

Texts of Identity In J.Shotter & K.Gergen (eds.)  London: Sage (1988)

The Construction of Identity in the Narratives of Romance and Comedy

Actual Minds, Possible Worlds

By Jerome S. BRUNER

The Narrative Construction of Reality

Jerome Bruner

Jerome Bruner Life as a Narrative

Polarising narrative and paradigmatic ways of knowing: exploring the spaces through narrative, stories and reflections of personal transition

CLEO91571

David Cleaver

cleaver@usq.edu.au University of Southern Queensland

Possibilities for Action: Narrative Understanding

Donald Polkinghorne

Fielding Graduate University

https://journals.lib.unb.ca/index.php/NW/article/view/23789/27568

Two Modes of Thought

Jerome Bruner

Narrating the Self

http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/anthro/faculty/ochs/articles/96narr_self.pdf?q=narrating-the-self

THE USES OF NARRATIVE IN ORGANIZATION RESEARCH

Barbara Czarniawska

Acts of meaning. 

Bruner, J. (1990). 

Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Language learner stories and imagined identities

Margaret Early and Bonny Norton
Department of Language and Literacy Education, University of British Columbia

Narrative Rhetorics in Scenario Work: Sensemaking and Translation

Zhan Li
University of Southern California USA

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.431.411&rep=rep1&type=pdf

Chapter 2
Self-making and world-making

Jerome Bruner

In Narrative and Identity

Studies in Autobiography, Self and Culture

Jens Brockmeier
University of Toronto & Freie Universität Berlin

Donal Carbaugh
University of Massachusetts at Amherst

John Benjamins Publishing Company

A Grammar of Motives

By Kenneth Burke

Essays Toward a Symbolic of Motives, 1950–1955

By Kenneth Burke

A RHETORIC OF MOTIVES

Kenneth Burke

Click to access CaricatureofCourtshipKafkaCastleKennethBurke.pdf

A Calculus of Negation in Communication

Cybernetics & Human Knowing 24, 3–4 (2017), 17–27

Posted: 23 Jan 2018

Dirk Baecker

Witten/Herdecke University

Date Written: September 1, 2017

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3102888

Working the Form: George Spencer-Brown and the Mark of Distinction*

Dirk Baecker

Universität Witten/Herdecke

dirk.baecker@uni-wh.de

Shape of things to come: From the ‘laws of form’ to management in the post-growth economy

André Reichel

http://www.ephemerajournal.org volume 17(1): 89-118

Click to access 17-1reichel.pdf

Systems, Network, and Culture

Dirk Baecker Zeppelin University Friedrichshafen, Germany baecker@mac.com

Presented at the International Symposium “Relational Sociology: Transatlantic Impulses for the Social Sciences”, Berlin, September 25-26, 2008

Click to access baecker2.pdf

Organisations as distinction generating and processing systems: Niklas Luhmann’s contribution to organisation studies

David Seidl and Kai Helge Becker

SOCIAL SYSTEMS

Niklas Luhmann
TRANSLATED BY John Bednarz, Jr., with Dirk Baecker FOREWORD BY Eva M. Knodt
STANFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
STANFORD, CALIFORNIA

Introduction to Systems Theory

Niklas Luhmann

Click to access Niklas_Luhmann_Introduction_to_System_Theory.pdf

Mysteries of cognition. Review of neocybernetics and narrative by bruce clarke.

Baecker D. (2015)

Constructivist Foundations 10(2): 261–263. http://constructivist.info/10/2/261

https://constructivist.info/10/2/261.baecker

The Communication of Meaning in Anticipatory Systems: A Simulation Study of the Dynamics of Intentionality in Social Interactions

Loet Leydesdorff

In: Daniel M. Dubois (Ed.) Proceedings of the 8th Intern. Conf. on Computing Anticipatory Systems CASYS’07, Liège, Belgium, 6-11 August 2007. Melville, NY: American Institute of Physics Conference Proceedings, Vol. 1051 (2008) pp. 33-49.

Why Systems?

Dirk Baecker

Universität Witten/Herdecke http://www.uni-wh.de/baecker

Theory Culture & Society 18 (2001), pp. 59-74

LAWS OF
FORM by GEORGE SPENCER-BROWN

In collaboration with the Liverpool University
and the Laws of Form 50th Anniversary Conference.
Alphabetum III
September 28 — December 31, 2019 West Den Haag, The Netherlands

Click to access Alphabetum_III_V8_ONLINE.pdf

Systems in Context
On the outcome of the Habermas/Luhmann
debate

Poul Kjaer

Niklas Luhmann and Organization Studies

Edited by
David Seidl and Kai Helge Becker

Click to access 9788763003049.pdf

A Note on Max Weber’s Unfinished Theory of Economy and Society

Dirk Baecker
Witten/Herdecke University, Germany dbaecker@uni-wh.de

The fractal geometry of Luhmann’s sociological theory or debugging systems theory

José Javier Blanco Rivero

CONICET/Centro de Historia Intelectual, National University of Quilmes, Roque Sáenz Peña 352, Bernal, Argentina

Technological Forecasting & Social Change 146 (2019) 31–40


Diamond Calculus of Formation of Forms

A calculus of dynamic complexions of distinctions as an interplay of worlds and distinctions

Archive-Number / Categories 3_01 / K06, K03
Publication Date 2011

Rudolf Kaehr (1942-2016)

Click to access rk_Diamond-Calculus-of-Formation-of-Forms_2011.pdf

ART AS A SOCIAL SYSTEM

Niklas Luhmann

TRANSLATED BY EVA M. KNODT

Snakes all the Way Down: Varela’s Calculus for Self-Reference and the Praxis of Paradise

André Reichel*

European Center for Sustainability Research, Zeppelin University, Friedrichshafen, Germany

Systems Research and Behavioral Science Syst. Res. (2011)
Published online in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com) DOI: 10.1002/sres.1105

Who Conceives of Society?

Ernst von Glasersfeld

University of Massachusetts evonglas@hughes.net

Constructivist Foundations 2008, vol. 3, no. 2 http://www.univie.ac.at/constructivism/journal/

Click to access glasersfeld.pdf

Dramaturgy (sociology)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dramaturgy_(sociology)

Dramaturgy

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dramaturgy

Beyond Bourdieu:
The Interactionist Foundations of Media Practice Theory

PETER LUNT University of Leicester, UK

International Journal of Communication 14(2020), 2946–2963

https://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/viewFile/11204/3104

Drama as Life: The Significance of Goffman’s Changing Use of the Theatrical Metaphor

Phil Manning

Sociological Theory Vol. 9, No. 1 (Spring, 1991), pp. 70-86 (17 pages) 

Published By: American Sociological Association 

https://doi.org/10.2307/201874https://www.jstor.org/stable/201874

RECONSTRUCTING THE SELF: A GOFFMANIAN PERSPECTIVE

Simon Susen

In: H. F. Dahms & E. R. Lybeck (Eds.), Reconstructing Social Theory, History and Practice. Current Perspectives in Social Theory. (pp. 111-143). Bingley, UK: Emerald. ISBN 9781786354709

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/b8ca/9e1bb2a4bdf97330c932fc75ea7f60253551.pdf?_ga=2.252111627.386639570.1616097397-89425557.1612485585

Mainstreaming Relational Sociology – Relational Analysis of Culture in Digithum

P. Baert. Published 2016

The Foundations of the Social: Between Critical Theory and Reflexive Sociology

S. Susen. Published 2007

Language, self, and social order: A reformulation of Goffman and Sacks

A. RawlsPublished 1989SociologyHuman Studies

The Interaction Order: American Sociological Association, 1982 Presidential Address

Author(s): Erving Goffman

Reviewed work(s):
Source: American Sociological Review, Vol. 48, No. 1 (Feb., 1983), pp. 1-17 Published by: American Sociological Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2095141 .

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/cc41/6add65c01434e70c1eff295ccf2c4d45ad49.pdf?_ga=2.51373867.386639570.1616097397-89425557.1612485585

Face and interaction

Michael Haugh

(2009): In Francesca Bargiela-Chiappini and Michael Haugh (eds.), Face, Communication and Social Interaction, Equinox, London, pp.1-30.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/313098378_Face_and_Interaction

Public and private faces in web spaces – How Goffman’s work can be used to think about purchasing medicine online. 

Lisa Sugiura

Organizational Analysis: Goffman and Dramaturgy  

Peter K. Manning

The Oxford Handbook of Sociology, Social Theory, and Organization Studies: Contemporary Currents

Edited by Paul Adler, Paul du Gay, Glenn Morgan, and Mike Reed

Print Publication Date: Oct 2014

https://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199671083.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780199671083-e-012

Complete bibliography: Erving Goffman ́s writings

Persson, Anders

http://lup.lub.lu.se/search/ws/files/5499425/2438065

Chapter 1 THE PROGRAM OF INTERACTION RITUAL THEORY

Click to access s7769.pdf

A review of Jerome Bruner’s educational theory:

Its implications for studies in teaching and learning and active learning (secondary publication)

Koji MATSUMOTO

Faculty of Economics Nagoya Gakuin University

Click to access syakai_vol5401_11.pdf

The Use of Stories in Moral Development: New Psychological Reasons for an Old Education Method

DOI: 10.1037/0003-066X.45.6.709

Narrative Understanding and Understanding Narrative

Sarah E. Worth

Contemporary Aesthetics (Journal Archive): Vol. 2 , Article 9.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.risd.edu/liberalarts_contempaesthetics/vol2/iss1/9

How do Birds Communicate?

How do Birds Communicate?

This post is dedicated to Twitter where people tweet.

Listen to birds songs here:

How and Why Birds Sing

 

 

From https://www.wildernesscollege.com/bird-communication.html

Bird Communication: An Introduction

By Filip Tkaczyk

Just what is this idea of bird communication?

Imagine for a moment that you are strolling down a boardwalk through a cattail marsh in your local wetland. It is springtime and many bird voices fill the warming air and reach your ears. You hear the loud, carrying voices of some birds in the cattails who’s song sounds like konk-la-ree-er! or poke-your-neigh-bor! Then you see them, black birds clinging here and there to the upperparts of the cattails and belting out their songs.

You continue walking along the path and the birds nearest to you quietly slink down into the inner depths of the cattails. The singing of all these birds is almost overwhelming! As they sing out using their own personal form of bird communication, they fluff up their wings and gesture to each other. Red and yellow patches of feathers on their shoulders grow out like fiery flowers with each of their outbursts. Occasionally, one lifts off from the cattails and flies towards another bird perched nearby. Wings pumping in exaggerated slow motion, red and yellow patches bursting from the wings, they call out as they fly.

What is going on here?!

bird communication blackbird

How do birds communicate?

What you just witnessed was the loud and exciting displays of the male red-wing blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus).

Also, you just witnessed bird communication on several levels.

The first thing you might have noticed was the sounds the birds were making. The voice is often the most noticeable form of bird communication. Bird communication using sound includes singing, calls, squeaks, squawks, gurgles, warbles, trills, rattles, gulps, pops, whines, clicks, croaks, drums, whistles, howls, tremolos, thumps, honks and many other sorts of sounds.

Not all birds use their voice as their main method of communication. Some birds, such as the ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus), make non-vocal sound by beating the air with their wings. This is done in a way where the wings create a vacuum and the sound is caused by the air rushing in to fill up that space, essentially creating a mini-sonic boom. This sound is used to establish and hold a territory. Another example, the Wilson’s snipe (Gallinago delicata) uses special tail feathers which its spreads during an earthward dive. As it plummets down, it beats its wings in a way that guides air through the feathers creating a winnowing sound. The snipe uses this during courtship.

Bird communication also happens through visual displays. These are often a combination of behaviors and the feathers on the bird’s body. In the case of the blackbirds, the males puff up their feathers, lean forward, shrug their shoulders showing off their colorful shoulders, and exaggerates them with bold postures. They also sing out as they do this making their statement loud and clear. So it is with many species of birds, both the visual and sound-based behaviors are used to communicate.

blue grouse display

Why do birds communicate?

Birds use their voices to make sounds for all sorts of reasons, such as: claiming territory, seeking mates, begging for food, calling their chicks or mate, staying in touch with flock mates, scolding an intruder of the same species or different species, announcing the presence of a predator, singing a duet with a mate and many other reasons.

Sound is a great form of bird communication because it can carry beyond where birds can see. In some cases, sounds can travel over a mile or several miles under the right conditions. Also, if you are a bird that lives in a thicket, it helps to use your voice to stay in touch with your mate or with the members of your flock.

Birds also tend to have very keen eyes so it is no surprise that visual displays are included in bird communication. Consider the male red-winged blackbirds. They have deep, black colored bodies, black wings, black heads and eyes, black tails and those brilliant red and yellow wing patches. The red and yellow colors contrast starkly with the black, making these birds stunning to look at in full display. The way in which the males flash their brilliant wing patches as they sing adds to their messages. Both gestures together are used by the birds to try and communicate that they are claiming this patch of the cattail marsh as their territory.

The displays don’t go unnoticed by the females either. Females of most bird species are generally duller looking in color compared to the males. Females are also very critical of the appearance of males, and when choosing a mate they don’t just listen to his song, but also closely scrutinize his appearance.

Why, you might ask? The healthier and more impressive a male birds feathers are, the healthier are his genes. Females want to mate with only the best males. If he sings well and has great plumage, she will want him to father her chicks.

Visual displays are not about a bird’s feathers, but also includes how a bird uses them. Consider a male peacock’s beautiful tail. It is not enough for him to just have a beautiful tail, he also has to flaunt it many times everyday to get the attention of the females. Same is true of the blue grouse in the photo above.

Though some birds communicate largely through visual displays or sound, most birds use some combination of both.

Can we understand bird communication?

Yes, it is possible for us to learn to understand bird communication. For example, the beautiful visual displays of a peacock or red-winged blackbird, or the enchanting song of a wood thrush or Swainson’s thrush communicates to all of us on a personal level. That personal experience and the meaning we gain from it is different for each of us. It is also possible to understand bird communication in the context of how the birds themselves might understand it.

For starters, nothing birds do is without purpose. There are many levels of meaning in bird communication. On one level we can observe the colors and patterns on a bird, and recognize that it is sending a signal to other birds. One signal that it is sending is, “I belong to this species.” Each species of bird looks and sounds different, this helps to distinguish whether a bird is a possible mate or not.

On another level, we might pay attention to the physical behaviors of a bird. For instance, is the bird feeding calmly or is it flying away and hiding in cover from a potential threat? Since birds can puff out or flatten down their feathers at will, how the feathers look might help understand how a bird is feeling or what it is trying to communicate. A bird that suddenly puffs itself up might be expressing the intensity of its current feelings. The raising of a birds crest might mean it is feeling aggressive, excitement or curious. A rigid, jumpy posture might mean it is frightened and ready to flee. Slower, more deliberate movements might show you that a bird is feeling relatively relaxed and calm.

A wealth of information on a bird’s state of mind is to be found in the nuances of their behaviors and the intonations of their calls and songs.

There is also a way of studying bird communication that allows you to use the sounds and behaviors of birds to tell you about other, more elusive animals in the forest. This is described as the study of “bird language.” For more information on this, check out another one of our articles here: Using Bird sounds to Locate Animals.

Bird communication changes with the seasons and times of year in any given location. In the United States, birds are strongly affected by the four seasons. Winter, for instance, is often the quieter time of the year as far as bird vocalizations in the northern parts of the USA. Spring is when the bird song returns and singing begins again in earnest for many species. Birds of many migrant species are returning to their seasonal nesting areas, are busy establishing territories, finding mates, making nests, finding food and many other tasks.

Summer time is often when birds are busy keeping their growing chicks fed and helping them reach independence. Singing slows down for those species which are raising chicks because now practically all of their time is consumed in taking care of their family. Fall is a time when the migrant birds start to move south again. And the cycle continues, onward.

Where can you go to start learning more?

The best place to start learning more about bird communication is right in your own backyard. Try getting to know the birds that frequent your neighborhood by setting up a feeder in your yard. Watching birds at feeders can provide many hours of close-up viewing of bird behavior and allows you to observe birds over a period of time. Take note of how the birds communicate between members of their own flock or species, as well as with other birds and wildlife. With time, you will gain a deeper understanding of the intricacies of bird communication.

Go outside and enjoying watching birds today!

Additional Resources

Songs and Sounds – All About Birds

Related Courses:

Wildlife Tracking Courses

Language of the Birds Class


About the Author: Filip Tkaczyk is a periodic guest teacher at Alderleaf. He also wrote the field guide Tracks & Sign of Reptiles & Amphibians. Learn more about Filip Tkaczyk.

From https://sciencing.com/birds-communicate-4567063.html

How Do Birds Communicate?

Not all birds sing, but those that do are in a class of birds known as passerines, or perching birds. (The term “passerine” is sometimes incorrectly used as a synonym for “songbird,” but this is inaccurate, since passerine status is defined by the structure of the bird’s feet. All songbirds are passerines, but not all passerines are songbirds.) Many familiar backyard birds are songbirds, including sparrows, wrens, warblers and thrushes. The males of the species often sing more than the females. The males sing to announce their presence and to let females know that they are available for mating. They also sing to defend the territory in which they mate, nest or feed. Females do not sing as frequently as the males. A song is often a multi-noted phrase that is repeated over and over. Some species only have one song in their repertoire, while other species may have several. Some birds, such as starlings, will mimic the songs of other species of birds, and they may be able to produce dozens of different songs.

A more common form of communication among birds are call notes. Most birds communicate aurally, although some are more vocal than others, and each species of bird has a variety of call notes to convey different messages. Birds use call notes to alert other birds of danger, and some species may have different call notes for different threats (for example, they may have one note to sound the alarm for an airborne predator like a hawk or owl and another note for a land predator like a cat). Birds also use call notes to locate their mate or offspring or to communicate with other birds in their flock while they are flying. In smaller birds, call notes often sound like a chip, chirp or peep, and in larger birds the call notes may sound like a screech, caw or click.


What is Code Biology?

What is Code Biology?

 

 

 

Key Terms

  • Code Biology
  • Biosemiotics
  • Charles Sanders Peirce
  • Genetic Code
  • Musical Harmony
  • Symmetry
  • Jay Kappraff
  • Gary Adamson
  • Pythagorean Triples
  • Harmonic Laws
  • Numbers
  • Geometry
  • Matrices
  • Self, Culture, Nature
  • I, We, It, Its
  • Sergey V. Petoukhov
  • Codes
  • Meaning
  • Value
  • Marcello Barbieri
  • RNA, DNA, Proteins, Cells
  • Code Semiotics
  • Ferdinand D Saussure

 

What is Code Biology?

Codes and conventions are the basis of our social life and from time immemorial have divided the world of culture from the world of nature. The rules of grammar, the laws of government, the precepts of religion, the value of money, the rules of chess etc., are all human conventions that are profoundly different from the laws of physics and chemistry, and this has led to the conclusion that there is an unbridgeable gap between nature and culture. Nature is governed by objective immutable laws, whereas culture is produced by the mutable conventions of the human mind.

In this millennia-old framework, the discovery of the genetic code, in the early 1960s, came as a bolt from the blue, but strangely enough it did not bring down the barrier between nature and culture. On the contrary, a protective belt was quickly built around the old divide with an argument that effectively emptied the discovery of all its revolutionary potential. The argument that the genetic code is not a real code because its rules are the result of chemical affinities between codons and amino acids and are therefore determined by chemistry. This is the ‘Stereochemical theory’, an idea first proposed by George Gamow in 1954, and re-proposed ever since in many different forms (Pelc and Welton 1966; Dunnil 1966; Melcher 1974; Shimizu 1982; Yarus 1988, 1998; Yarus, Caporaso and Knight 2005). More than fifty years of research have not produced any evidence in favour of this theory and yet the idea is still circulating, apparently because of the possibility that stereochemical interactions might have been important at some early stages of evolution (Koonin and Novozhilov 2009). The deep reason is probably the persistent belief that the genetic code must have been a product of chemistry and cannot possibly be a real code. But what is a real code?

The starting point is the idea that a code is a set of rules that establish a correspondence, or a mapping, between the objects of two independent worlds (Barbieri 2003). The Morse code, for example, is a mapping between the letters of the alphabet and groups of dots and dashes. The highway code is a correspondence between street signals and driving behaviours (a red light means ‘stop’, a green light means ‘go’, and so on).

What is essential in all codes is that the coding rules, although completely compatible with the laws of physics and chemistry, are not dictated by these laws. In this sense they are arbitrary, and the number of arbitrary relationships between two independent worlds is potentially unlimited. In the Morse code, for example, any letter of the alphabet could be associated with countless combinations of dots and dashes, which means that a specific link between them can be realized only by selecting a small number of rules. And this is precisely what a code is: a small set of arbitrary rules selected from a potentially unlimited number in order to ensure a specific correspondence between two independent worlds.

This definition allows us to make experimental tests because organic codes are relationships between two worlds of organic molecules and are necessarily implemented by a third type of molecules, called adaptors, that build a bridge between them. The adaptors are required because there is no necessary link between the two worlds, and a fixed set of adaptors is required in order to guarantee the specificity of the correspondence. The adaptors, in short, are the molecular fingerprints of the codes, and their presence in a biological process is a sure sign that that process is based on a code.

This gives us an objective criterion for discovering organic codes and their existence is no longer a matter of speculation. It is, first and foremost, an experimental problem. More precisely, we can prove that an organic code exists, if we find three things: (1) two independents worlds of molecules, (2) a set of adaptors that create a mapping between them, and (3) the demonstration that the mapping is arbitrary because its rules can be changed, at least in principle, in countless different ways.

 

Two outstanding examples

The genetic code

In protein synthesis, a sequence of nucleotides is translated into a sequence of amino acids, and the bridge between them is realized by a third type of molecules, called transfer-RNAs, that act as adaptors and perform two distinct operations: at one site they recognize groups of three nucleotides, called codons, and at another site they receive amino acids from enzymes called aminoacyl-tRNA-synthetases. The key point is that there is no deterministic link between codons and amino acids since it has been shown that any codon can be associated with any amino acid (Schimmel 1987; Schimmel et al. 1993). Hou and Schimmel (1988), for example, introduced two extra nucleotides in a tRNA and found that that the resulting tRNA was carrying a different amino acid. This proved that the number of possible connections between codons and amino acids is potentially unlimited, and only the selection of a small set of adaptors can ensure a specific mapping. This is the genetic code: a fixed set of rules between nucleic acids and amino acids that are implemented by adaptors. In protein synthesis, in conclusion, we find all the three essential components of a code: (1) two independents worlds of molecules (nucleotides and amino acids), (2) a set of adaptors that create a mapping between them, and (3) the proof that the mapping is arbitrary because its rules can be changed.

 

The signal transduction codes

Signal transduction is the process by which cells transform the signals from the environment, called first messengers, into internal signals, called second messengers. First and second messengers belong to two independent worlds because there are literally hundreds of first messengers (hormones, growth factors, neurotransmitters, etc.) but only four great families of second messengers (cyclic AMP, calcium ions, diacylglycerol and inositol trisphosphate) (Alberts et al. 2007). The crucial point is that the molecules that perform signal transduction are true adaptors. They consists of three subunits: a receptor for the first messengers, an amplifier for the second messengers, and a mediator in between (Berridge 1985). This allows the transduction complex to perform two independent recognition processes, one for the first messenger and the other for the second messenger. Laboratory experiments have proved that any first messenger can be associated with any second messenger, which means that there is a potentially unlimited number of arbitrary connections between them. In signal transduction, in short, we find all the three essential components of a code: (1) two independents worlds of molecules (first messengers and second messengers), (2) a set of adaptors that create a mapping between them, and (3) the proof that the mapping is arbitrary because its rules can be changed (Barbieri 2003).

 

A world of organic codes

In addition to the genetic code and the signal transduction codes, a wide variety of new organic codes have come to light in recent years. Among them: the sequence codes (Trifonov 1987, 1989, 1999), the Hox code (Paul Hunt et al. 1991; Kessel and Gruss 1991), the adhesive code (Redies and Takeichi 1996; Shapiro and Colman 1999), the splicing codes (Barbieri 2003; Fu 2004; Matlin et al. 2005; Pertea et al. 2007; Wang and Burge 2008; Barash et al. 2010; Dhir et al. 2010), the signal transduction codes (Barbieri 2003), the histone code (Strahl and Allis 2000; Jenuwein and Allis 2001; Turner 2000, 2002, 2007; Kühn and Hofmeyr 2014), the sugar code (Gabius 2000, 2009), the compartment codes (Barbieri 2003), the cytoskeleton codes (Barbieri 2003; Gimona 2008), the transcriptional code (Jessell 2000; Marquard and Pfaff 2001; Ruiz i Altaba et al. 2003; Flames et al. 2007), the neural code (Nicolelis and Ribeiro 2006; Nicolelis 2011), a neural code for taste (Di Lorenzo 2000; Hallock and Di Lorenzo 2006), an odorant receptor code(Dudai 1999; Ray et al. 2006), a space code in the hippocampus (O’Keefe and Burgess 1996, 2005; Hafting et al. 2005; Brandon and Hasselmo 2009; Papoutsi et al. 2009), the apoptosis code (Basañez and Hardwick 2008; Füllgrabe et al. 2010), the tubulin code (Verhey and Gaertig 2007), the nuclear signalling code (Maraldi 2008), the injective organic codes (De Beule et al. 2011), the molecular codes (Görlich et al. 2011; Görlich and Dittrich 2013), the ubiquitin code (Komander and Rape 2012), the bioelectric code (Tseng and Levin 2013; Levin 2014), the acoustic codes (Farina and Pieretti 2014), the glycomic code (Buckeridge and De Souza 2014; Tavares and Buckeridge 2015) and the Redox code (Jones and Sies 2015).

The living world, in short, is literally teeming with organic codes, and yet so far their discoveries have only circulated in small circles and have not attracted the attention of the scientific community at large.

 

Code Biology

Code Biology is the study of all codes of life with the standard methods of science. The genetic code and the codes of culture have been known for a long time and represent the historical foundation of Code Biology. What is really new in this field is the study of all codes that came after the genetic code and before the codes of culture. The existence of these codes is an experimental fact – let us never forget this – but also more than that. It is one of those facts that have extraordinary theoretical implications.

The first is the role that the organic codes had in the history of life. The genetic code was a precondition for the origin of the first cells, the signal transduction codes divided the descendants of the common ancestor into the primary kingdoms of Archaea, Bacteria and Eukarya, the splicing codes were instrumental to the origin of the nucleus, the histone code provided the rules of chromatin, and the cytoskeleton codes allowed the Eukarya to perform internal movements, including those of mitosis and meiosis (Barbieri 2003, 2015). The greatest events of macroevolution, in other words, were associated with the appearance of new organic codes, and this gives us a completely new understanding of the history of life.

The second great implication is the fact that the organic codes have been highly conserved in evolution, which means that they are the great invariants of life, the sole entities that have been perpetuated while everything else has been changed. Code Biology, in short, is uncovering a new history of life and bringing to light new fundamental concepts. It truly is a new science, the exploration of a vast and still largely unexplored dimension of the living world, the real new frontier of biology.

 

References

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Barash Y, Calarco JA, Gao W, Pan Q, Wang X, Shai O, Blencow BJ and Frey BJ (2010). Deciphering the splicing code. Nature, Vol 465, 53-59.

Barbieri M (2003) The Organic Codes. An Introduction to Semantic Biology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Barbieri M (2015) Code Biology. A New Science of Life. Springer, Dordrecht.

Basañez G and Hardwick JM (2008) Unravelling the Bcl-2 Apoptosis Code with a Simple Model System. PLoS Biol 6(6): e154. Doi: 10.137/journal.pbio.0060154.

Berridge M (1985) The molecular basis of communication within the cell. Scientific American, 253, 142-152.

Brandon MP and Hasselmo ME (2009) Sources of the spatial code within the hippocampus. Biology Reports, 1, 3-7.

Buckeridge MS and De Souza AP (2014) Breaking the “Glycomic Code” of cell wall polysaccharides may improve second-generation bioenergy production from biomass. BioEnergy Research, 7, 1065-1073.

De Beule J, Hovig E and Benson M (2011) Introducing Dynamics into the Field of Biosemiotics. Biosemiotics, 4(1), 5-24.

Dhir A, Buratti E, van Santen MA, Lührmann R and Baralle FE, (2010). The intronic splicing code: multiple factors involved in ATM pseudoexon definition. The EMBO Journal, 29, 749–760.

Di Lorenzo PM (2000) The neural code for taste in the brain stem: Response profiles. Physiology and Behaviour, 69, 87-96.

Dudai Y (1999) The Smell of Representations. Neuron 23: 633-635.

Dunnill P (1966) Triplet nucleotide-amino-acid pairing; a stereochemical basis for the division between protein and non-protein amino-acids. Nature, 210, 1267-1268.

Farina A and Pieretti N (2014) Acoustic Codes in Action in a Soundscape Context. Biosemiotics, 7(2), 321–328.

Flames N, Pla R, Gelman DM, Rubenstein JLR, Puelles L and Marìn O (2007) Delineation of Multiple Subpallial Progenitor Domains by the Combinatorial Expression of Transcriptional Codes. The Journal of Neuroscience, 27, 9682–9695.

Fu XD (2004) Towards a splicing code. Cell, 119, 736–738.

Füllgrabe J, Hajji N and Joseph B (2010) Cracking the death code: apoptosis-related histone modifications. Cell Death and Differentiation, 17, 1238-1243.

Gabius H-J (2000) Biological Information Transfer Beyond the Genetic Code: The Sugar Code. Naturwissenschaften, 87, 108-121.

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Gimona M (2008) Protein linguistics and the modular code of the cytoskeleton. In: Barbieri M (ed) The Codes of Life: The Rules of Macroevolution. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 189-206.

Görlich D, Artmann S, Dittrich P (2011) Cells as semantic systems. Biochim Biophys Acta, 1810 (10), 914-923.

Görlich D and Dittrich P (2013) Molecular codes in biological and chemical reaction networks. PLoS ONE 8(1):e54,694, DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0054694.

Hafting T, Fyhn M, Molden S, Moser MB, Moser EI (2005) Microstructure of a spatial map in the entorhinal cortex. Nature, 436, 801-806.

Hallock RM and Di Lorenzo PM (2006) Temporal coding in the gustatory system. Neuroscience and Behavioral Reviews, 30, 1145-1160.

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Jessell TM (2000) Neuronal Specification in the Spinal Cord: Inductive Signals and Transcriptional Codes. Nature Genetics, 1, 20-29.

Jones DP and Sies H (2015) The Redox Code. Antioxidants and Redox Signaling, 23 (9), 734-746.

Kessel M and Gruss P (1991) Homeotic Tansformation of Murine Vertebrae and Concomitant Alteration of Hox Codes induced by Retinoic Acid. Cell, 67, 89-104.

Komander D and Rape M (2012), The Ubiquitin Code. Annu. Rev. Biochem. 81, 203–29.

Koonin EV and Novozhilov AS (2009) Origin and evolution of the genetic code: the universal enigma. IUBMB Life. 61(2), 99-111.

Kühn S and Hofmeyr J-H S (2014) Is the “Histone Code” an organic code? Biosemiotics, 7(2), 203–222.

Levin M (2014) Endogenous bioelectrical networks store non-genetic patterning information during development and regeneration. Journal of Physiology, 592.11, 2295–2305.

Maraldi NM (2008) A Lipid-based Code in Nuclear Signalling. In: Barbieri M (ed) The Codes of Life: The Rules of Macroevolution. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 207-221.

Marquard T and Pfaff SL (2001) Cracking the Transcriptional Code for Cell Specification in the Neural Tube. Cell, 106, 651–654.

Matlin A, Clark F and Smith C (2005) Understanding alternative splicing: towards a cellular code. Nat. Rev. Mol. Cell Biol., 6, 386-398.

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Nicolelis M (2011) Beyond Boundaries: The New Neuroscience of Connecting Brains with Machines and How It Will Change Our Lives.Times Books, New York.

Nicolelis M and Ribeiro S (2006) Seeking the Neural Code. Scientific American, 295, 70-77.

O’Keefe J, Burgess N (1996) Geometric determinants of the place fields of hippocampal neurons. Nature, 381, 425-428.

O’Keefe J, Burgess N (2005) Dual phase and rate coding in hippocampal place cells: theoretical significance and relationship to entorhinal grid cells. Hippocampus, 15, 853-866.

Papoutsi M, de Zwart JA, Jansma JM, Pickering MJ, Bednar JA and Horwitz B (2009) From Phonemes to Articulatory Codes: An fMRI Study of the Role of Broca’s Area in Speech Production. Cerebral Cortex,19, 2156 – 2165.

Pelc SR and Weldon MGE (1966) Stereochemical relationship between coding triplets and amino-acids. Nature, 209, 868-870.

Pertea M, Mount SM, Salzberg SL (2007) A computational survey of candidate exonic splicing enhancer motifs in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. BMC Bioinformatics, 8, 159.

Ray A, van der Goes van Naters W, Shiraiwa T and Carlson JR (2006) Mechanisms of Odor Receptor Gene Choice in Drosophila. Neuron, 53, 353-369.

Redies C and Takeichi M (1996) Cadherine in the developing central nervous system: an adhesive code for segmental and functional subdivisions. Developmental Biology, 180, 413-423.

Ruiz i Altaba A, Nguien V and Palma V (2003) The emergent design of the neural tube: prepattern, SHH morphogen and GLI code.Current Opinion in Genetics & Development, 13, 513–521.

Schimmel P (1987) Aminoacyl tRNA synthetases: General scheme of structure-function relationship in the polypeptides and recognition of tRNAs. Ann. Rev. Biochem., 56, 125-158.

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Shapiro L and Colman DR (1999) The Diversity of Cadherins and Implications for a Synaptic Adhesive Code in the CNS. Neuron, 23, 427-430.

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Strahl BD and Allis D (2000) The language of covalent histone modifications. Nature, 403, 41-45.

Tavares EQP and Buckeridge MS (2015) Do plant cells have a code? Plant Science, 241, 286-294.

Trifonov EN (1987) Translation framing code and frame-monitoring mechanism as suggested by the analysis of mRNA and 16s rRNA nucleotide sequence. Journal of Molecular Biology, 194, 643-652.

Trifonov EN (1989) The multiple codes of nucleotide sequences. Bulletin of Mathematical Biology, 51: 417-432.

Trifonov EN (1999) Elucidating Sequence Codes: Three Codes for Evolution. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 870, 330-338.

Tseng AS and Levin M (2013) Cracking the bioelectric code. Probing endogenous ionic controls of pattern formation. Communicative & Integrative Biology, 6(1), 1–8.

Turner BM (2000) Histone acetylation and an epigenetic code. BioEssays, 22, 836–845.

Turner BM (2002) Cellular memory and the Histone Code. Cell, 111, 285-291.

Turner BM (2007) Defining an epigenetic code. Nature Cell Biology, 9, 2-6.

Verhey KJ and Gaertig J (2007) The Tubulin Code. Cell Cycle, 6 (17), 2152-2160.

Wang Z and Burge C (2008) Splicing regulation: from a part list of regulatory elements to an integrated splicing code. RNA, 14, 802-813.

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CODE BIOLOGY, PEIRCEAN BIOSEMIOTICS, AND ROSEN’S RELATIONAL BIOLOGY

The classical theories of the genetic code claimed that its coding rules were determined by chemistry—either by stereochemical affinities or by metabolic reactions—but the experimental evidence has revealed a totally different reality: it has shown that any codon can be associated with any amino acid, thus proving that there is no necessary link between them. The rules of the genetic code, in other words, obey the laws of physics and chemistry but are not determined by them. They are arbitrary, or conventional, rules. The result is that the genetic code is not a metaphorical entity, as implied by the classical theories, but a real code, because it is precisely the presence of arbitrary rules that divides a code from all other natural processes. In the past 20 years, furthermore, various independent discoveries have shown that many other organic codes exist in living systems, which means that the genetic code has not been an isolated case in the history of life. These experimental facts have one outstanding theoretical implication: they imply that in addition to the concept of information we must introduce in biology the concept of meaning, because we cannot have codes without meaning or meaning without codes. The problem is that at present we have two different theoretical frameworks for that purpose: one is Code Biology, where meaning is the result of coding, and the other is Peircean biosemiotics, where meaning is the result of interpretation. Recently, however, a third party has entered the scene, and it has been proposed that Robert Rosen’s relational biology can provide a bridge between Code Biology and Peircean biosemiotics.

 

 

Please see my related posts

Semiotics, Bio-Semiotics and Cyber Semiotics

Autocatalysis, Autopoiesis and Relational Biology

Geometry of Consciousness

Mind, Consciousness and Quantum Entanglement

 

 

Key Sources of Research:

 

Code Biology

http://www.codebiology.org

 

What is Code Biology?

Marcello Barbieri

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/320332986_What_is_Code_Biology

Code Biology, Peircean Biosemiotics, and Rosen’s Relational Biology

Marcello Barbieri

 

 

 

Why Biosemiotics? An Introduction to Our View on the Biology of Life Itself

Kalevi Kull, Claus Emmeche and Jesper Hoffmeyer

 

 

 

BIOSEMIOTICS AND SELF-REFERENCE FROM PEIRCE TO ROSEN

Eliseo Fernández

Click to access PRfinal.pdf

 

 

 

What Does it Take to Produce Interpretation? Informational, Peircean and Code-Semiotic Views on Biosemiotics

Søren Brier & Cliff Joslyn

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/255813854_What_Does_It_Take_to_Produce_Interpretation_Informational_Peircean_and_Code-Semiotic_Views_on_Biosemiotics

Naturalizing semiotics: The triadic sign of Charles Sanders Peirce as a systems property

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26276466

 

 

 

BIOSEMIOSIS AND CAUSATION: DEFENDING BIOSEMIOTICS THROUGH ROSEN’S THEORETICAL BIOLOGY OR INTEGRATING BIOSEMIOTICS AND ANTICIPATORY SYSTEMS THEORY1

Arran Gare

http://cosmosandhistory.org/index.php/journal/article/viewFile/806/1396

 

 

 

GENERALIZED GENOMIC MATRICES, SILVER MEANS, AND PYTHAGOREAN TRIPLES

Jay Kappraff

Gary W. Adamson

 

Click to access report0809-12.pdf

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/f641/6a1d093e77df80173ed76add159b452924b1.pdf?_ga=2.121727499.1841123216.1571671914-1769689123.1571671914

 

 

The genetic code, 8-dimensional hypercomplex numbers and dyadic shifts

 

Sergey V. Petoukhov

 

Click to access 1102.3596.pdf

 

 

 

A Fresh Look at Number

Jay Kappraff

Gary Adomson

Click to access bridges2000-255.pdf

 

 

 

SYMMETRIES IN MOLECULAR-GENETIC SYSTEMS AND MUSICAL HARMONY

G. Darvas, A.A. Koblyakov, S.V.Petoukhov, I.V.Stepanian

 

Click to access GENETIC_CODE_AND_MUSICAL_HARMONY_2012_PETOUKHOV.pdf

 

 

 

On the Semio-Mathematical Nature of Codes

Yair Neuman & Ophir Nave

Click to access On-the-Semio-Mathematical-Nature-of-Codes.pdf

 

 

GENETIC CODE AS A HARMONIC SYSTEM

Miloje M. Rakočević

 

Click to access 0610044.pdf

 

 

 

Genetic Code Table: A note on the three splittings into amino acid classes

Miloje M. Rakočević

 

Click to access 0903.4110.pdf

 

 

 

GENETIC CODE AS A HARMONIC SYSTEM: THREE SUPPLEMENTS

Miloje M. Rakočević

 

Click to access 0703011.pdf

 

 

THE GENETIC CODE INVARIANCE: WHEN EULER AND FIBONACCI MEET

Tidjani Négadi

 

Click to access 1305.5103.pdf

 

 

 

Genetic Code as a Coherent System

Miloje Rakočević

 

Click to access Genetic-Code-as-a-Coherent-System.pdf

 

 

 

A NEW GENETIC CODE TABLE

Miloje M. Rakočević

 

Click to access A-New-Genetic-Code-Table.pdf

 

 

 

Harmonically Guided Evolution

Richard Merrick

 

Click to access a084ad5ca081cf5ac00c82c77d5857795745.pdf

 

 

 

Golden and Harmonic Mean in the Genetic Code

Miloje M. Rakočević

Click to access 35c07d4f0e09a12acc2d6822a16407a14ccd.pdf

 

Narrative Psychology: Language, Meaning, and Self

Narrative Psychology: Language, Meaning, and Self

 

Key Terms

  • Connections
  • Relationships
  • Meaning
  • Language
  • Social Psychology
  • Social Constructivism
  • Ethnomethodology
  • Phenomenology
  • Postmodernism
  • Post Postmodernism
  • Humanistic Psychology
  • Self as Interactional Process
  • Hermenutics
  • Self and Social Structures
  • I and We
  • AQAL model of Ken Wilber
  • Integral Theory
  • Meta Integral Theories
  • Cyber Semiotics

 

 

Introducing Narrative Psychology

MICHELE L. CROSSLEY

Narrative Psychology and the Study of Self/Identity

Much of what is said in this article derives from my recent book, Introducing Narrative Psychology: Self, Trauma and the Construction of Meaning (Crossley, 2000a). In that book, I began with the age-old, perennial question. What is a self? Who am I? C.S. Lewis once commented: ‘There is one thing, and only one in the whole universe which we know more about than that we could learn from external observation. That one thing is ourselves. We have, so to speak, inside information, we are in the know’ (Lewis, 1952). But how true is this? Are we ‘in the know’ about ourselves?

It may seem obvious to turn towards psychology in order to throw light on these complex questions regarding self and identity. After all, most people are drawn towards the study of psychology because they are interested in the ‘human condition’, what makes us human, our loves, passions, hates and desires. But most of us find ourselves only a few months into a psychology degree when we realise that we are dealing with very little of this. Instead, you are enmeshed in statistics, principles of learning, cognition, abstract theories and theoretical models, all of which bear very little resemblance to anything you were originally interested in studying. Somewhat ironically, a great deal of contemporary psychology, supposedly an area devoted to the study of human beings, has become a totally ‘lifeless’ discipline. So where do we look, in the discipline of psychology, if we want to examine these questions of self and identity?

In Introducing Narrative Psychology, I suggested four main areas of psychology which address these issues. These included: i) experimentally based social psychology; ii)humanistic psychology; iii) psychoanalytic/ psychodynamic psychology; and iv) social constructivist approaches. Highlighting the limitations associated with each of these four areas, I opened the way for a new narrative psychology approach which, although influenced by these approaches (especially humanistic and social constructivist), had the potential to avoid the pitfalls endemic within them.

The Central Role of Language and Stories

Of particular importance to the formulation of a narrative psychology approach is recognition, derived from social constructivist approaches, of the central role played by language and stories in the process of self construction. As Crites (1986), wrote: ‘A self without a story contracts into the thinness of its personal pronoun.’ And Mair:

Stories are the womb of personhood. Stories make and break us. Stories sustain us in times of trouble and encourage us towards ends we would not otherwise envision. The more we shrink and harden our ways of telling, the more starved and constipated we become (Mair, 1989: 2)

‘Always in emergencies’, argued Broyard (1992: 21), ‘we invent narratives’:

We describe what is happening as if to confine the catastrophe. When people heard that I was ill, they inundated me with stories of their own illnesses, as well as the cases of friends. Storytelling seems to be a natural reaction to illness. People bleed stories and I’ve become a bloodbank of them (Broyard, 1992: 21)

Narrative as an ‘Organising Principle’ for Human Life

But it is not just the fact that people tell stories in making sense of themselves and others. A narrative psychological approach goes far deeper than that. For, central to this approach, is the development of a phenomenological understanding of the unique ‘order of meaning’ constitutive of human consciousness (see Crossley, 2000a; Polkinghorne, 1988). One of the main features of this ‘order of meaning’ is the experience of time and temporality. An understanding of temporality associated with the human realm of meaning is entirely different to that encountered in the natural sciences. This is because the human realm of meaning it is not related to a ‘thing’ or a ‘substance’ but to an ‘activity’ (Polkinghorne, 1988: 4). Everything experienced by human beings is made meaningful, understood and interpreted in relation to the primary dimension of ‘activity’ which incorporates both ‘time’ and ‘sequence’. In order to define and interpret ‘what’ exactly has happened on any particular occasion, the sequence of events is of extreme importance. Hence, a valid portrayal of the experience of selfhood necessitates an understanding of the inextricable connection between temporality and identity.

It is in accordance with these basic principles of temporality and connection that numerous authors such as MacIntyre (1981), Carr (1986) and Sarbin (1986) have put forward the idea that human psychology has an essentially narrative structure. Sarbin, for instance, proposes what he calls the ‘narratory principle’; this is the idea that human beings think, perceive, imagine, interact and make moral choices according to narrative structures. Sarbin uses the word narrative as coterminous with ‘story’:

A story is a symbolised account of actions of human beings that has a temporal dimension. The story has a beginning, middle, and an ending (or as Kermode (1967) suggests, the sense of an ending). The story is held together by recognisable patterns of events called plots. Central to the plot structure are human predicaments and attempted resolutions. (Sarbin, 1986: 3)

Sarbin treats narrative as the ‘organising principle for human action’. By this, he means that the concept of narrative can be used to help account for the observation that human beings always seek to impose structure on the flow of experience. Such a narrative principle invokes a humanisitic image of the self as a teller of stories, of heroes and villains, plots, and images of actors performing and engaging in dialogue with other actors.

Charles Taylor’s (1989) work is particularly important to the development of an understanding of self as intrinsically connected to temporality, interactions with others, and ultimately, morality. It is Taylor’s main contention that concepts of self and morality are inextricably intertwined – we are selves only in that certain issues matter for us. What I am as a self, my identity, is essentially defined by the way things have significance for me. To ask what I am in abstraction from self-interpretation makes no sense (Taylor, 1989: 34). Moreover, my self-interpretation can only be defined in relation to other people, an ‘interchange of speakers’. I cannot be a self on my own but only in relation to certain ‘interlocutors’ who are crucial to my language of self-understanding. In this sense, the self is constituted through ‘webs of interlocution’ in a ‘defining community’ (Taylor ibid, 39; see also Crossley, N., 1996). This connection between our sense of morality and sense of self, according to Taylor, means that one of our basic aspirations is the need to feel connected with what we see as ‘good’ or of crucial importance to us and our community. We have certain fundamental values which lead us to basic questions such as ‘what kind of life is worth living?’; ‘What constitutes a rich, meaningful life, as against an empty, meaningless one’? (Taylor ibid, 42).

A vision of ‘the good’ becomes available for people in any given culture by being given expression or articulation in some form or another. This articulation most often occurs through language and symbolic systems such as custom and ritual which reverberate with knowledge of connections and relationships across the generations. (Taylor ibid, 91). Such articulation brings us closer to the good as a moral source and gives it further power and potency. Stories have a tremendous force in this process insofar as they have the capacity to confer meaning and substance on peoples’ lives, to subtly influence their progression and orientation towards a particular ‘good’ (ibid, 97).

For example, cultures transmit to children knowledge of typical patterns of relationships, meanings and moralities in their myths, fairytales, histories and stories (see Bettelheim, 1976; Howard, 1991; Polkinghorne, 1988). And we are inculcated from a very early age to seeing connections between events, people and the world in a certain way through the stories and narratives told within our families (Langellier and Peterson, 1993; McAdams, 1993). Moreover, this process does not stop during childhood. As adolescents and adults we are exposed on a daily basis to TV dramas, soap operas, movie blockbusters and talk-shows, all of which play out, in the same way as the fairytale does for the child, eternal moral conflicts (see McLeod, 1997; Priest, 1996).

 

One of the central premises of a narrative psychological approach then, is of the essential and fundamental link between experiences of self, temporality, relationships with others and morality. We have a sense of who we are through a sense of where we stand in relation to ‘the good’. Hence, connections between notions of ‘the good’, understandings of the self, the kinds of stories and narratives through which we make sense of our lives, and conceptions of society, evolve together in ‘loose packages’ (Taylor ibid, 105).

Human Experience and Narrative Structure

Carr (1986) argues that the reality of human experience can be characterised as one which has a narrative or story-telling character (ibid, p.18). What would it be, he asks, to experience life as a ‘mere’ or ‘pure’ sequence of isolated events, one thing after another? In order to illustrate his thesis Carr draws upon phenomenological approaches such as Husserl’s theory of time consciousness which depicts the way in which humans ordinarily experience time. He basically makes a distinction between three levels of human experience: passive experience, active experience and experience of self/life. At each of these levels, human experience can be characterised by a complex temporal structure akin to the configuration of the storied form (see also Bruner, 1990; 1991). In the following exploration of human time consciousness, we will look at each of these experiential levels in turn.

According to Husserl, even as we encounter events at the most passive level (that is, when we are not consciously aware that we are encountering them), they are charged with the significance they derive from our anticipation of the future (‘protention’) and our memory of things past (‘retention’). His point is not that we have the capacity to project and remember but that we cannot even experience anything as happening, as present, except against the background of what it succeeds and what we anticipate will succeed it. Hence, when we experience time, we have no option but to experience it as an interrelated ‘configuration’ of past-present-future. Our experience automatically assumes temporally extended forms in which future, present and past mutually determine one another as parts of a whole. Husserl gives the example of a note in a melody. When we are listening to a melody we do not encounter notes in that melody as isolated elements or components. Rather, the note is encountered and ‘understood’ as part of a sequence as a whole. It only takes on ‘meaning’ in relation to the note that has preceded it and in anticipation of that which will succeed it. Hence the ‘presence’ of the note can only be encountered in relation to a mutually determined retentional- protentional structure. This kind of temporal experience is analogous to the Gestalt phenomena often discussed in relation to spatial perception.

 

Carr proceeds to argue that if this ‘configurational’ dimension is true of our most passive experiences, it is even more so true of our active lives in which we ‘explicitly consult past experience, envisage the future and view the present as a passage between the two’. Carr argues that the ‘means-end’ structure of action that we experience in everyday life is akin to the beginning-middle-end plot structure of narrative and thus, ‘the structure of action … is common to art and life’. This idea is also central to literary theorist Paul Ricouer’s notion that ‘time becomes human to the extent that it is articulated through a narrative mode’ (Ricoeur, 1984: 85). According to Ricoeur there are two sorts of time in every story told: on the one hand a discrete succession that is open and theoretically indefinite, for example, a series of incidents for which we can always pose the question, ‘and then? and then?’, much like a chronicle of events. The other sort of time is characterised by integration, culmination and closure owing to which the story receives a particular configuration. In this sense, composing a story involves drawing together a series of events in order that they make sense in relation to one another (Ricoeur, 1991: 121). We tend to experience activities, both short and long term, in relation to this latter mode, sometimes referred to by Ricoeur as the process of emplotment. The point is, our present activity only makes sense, and is framed in terms of, a vast array of interrelated memories from times past and anticipations of and for the future. Hence, the temporal configuration characteristic of narrative structure is akin not only to passive but also to active human experience.

If we can talk of narrative structure in connection with individual passive and active experiences, then the notion of a ‘life-story’ requires yet a further, more comprehensive grasp which brings separate ‘stories’ together, takes them all as ‘mine’ and establishes connections among them (Carr, 1986: 75). Although we have argued that there is a past-present-future temporal configuration (a narrative structure) at the level of passive and active experience, it is not difficult too see that at this more complex level (life as a whole), something special is required in the way of a reflexive (looking back) temporal grasp, to hold together the phases of these longer-term phenomena and preserve their coherence. This, of course, is the classic process of autobiography in which there is an attempt to envisage the coherence of a life through selection, organisation and presentation of its component parts. Some authors such as Kierkegaard (1987) have argued that it is through this process of autobiographical selection that we become ethical beings; in the telling of our life stories, we become responsible for our lives. Literary theorist Paul Ricoeur makes such responsibility central to his concept of ‘narrative identity’, arguing that the self only comes into being in the process of telling a life story (Ricoeur, 1986: 132).

 

It is important to point out here that we may be in danger of suggesting that in order to help us understand ourselves and our lives we actually need literary creations such as works of fiction, biography and autobiography. Indeed, Ricoeur, has been accused of placing too much emphasis on the role of ‘story’ as the instance where meaning is created, at the expense of ‘human life’ (Widdershoven, 1993). However, if we bring forth the conception of the narrative structure of human experience and action developed by Carr, we can see that the meaning created in the autobiographical act of reflection and that found within everyday experience and action, actually exist on a continuum rather than being radically discontinuous. In Carr’s terms ‘lives are told in being lived and lived in being told’ (ibid, p.61). The actions and sufferings of life can be viewed as a process of telling ourselves stories, listening to those stories and acting them out or living through them. Hence:

It is not the case that we first live and act and then afterward, seated around the fire as it were, tell about what we have done … The retrospective view of the narrator, with its capacity for seeing the whole in all its irony, is not an irreconcilable opposition to the agent’s view but is an extension and refinement of a viewpoint inherent in action itself … narration, intertwined as it is with action, (creates meaning) in the course of life itself, not merely after the fact, at the hands of authors, in the pages of books. (ibid, p.61)

When Carr refers to narration here, he is not just referring to the fact that a great deal of our everyday conversations are devoted to telling stories (although this is true). His point about narrative is more to do with its role in constituting the sense of the actions we engage in and the events we live through, its role in organising temporally and giving shape and coherence to the sequence of experiences we have as we are in the process of having them (ibid, p.62). Hence, the notion of narrative structure or the act of narrative structuring does not necessarily take on the form of explicit verbalisation. It refers more to the fact that, as the agent or subject of experience, I am constantly attempting to:

surmount time in exactly the way the storyteller does’. I constantly ‘attempt to dominate the flow of events by gathering them together in the forward-backward grasp of the narrative act … (ibid, p.62)

Carr further argues that our constant attempt to achieve a sense of structure and order in the course of our everyday activities and lives is firmly based on our practical orientation within the world. In order to get on in everyday life we need things to hang together, to make sense, to have some sense of connection. If, for instance, I found myself writing this paper and it bore very little resemblance to anything I had ever done before, I would have great difficulty pursuing it because I would be unable to see the point – why am I doing this? Where will it take me? Where do I go from here? And for the most part it is ‘normal’ for us to experience such narrative coherence in the sense that for most of us, for most of the time ‘things do, after all, make sense, hang together’ (ibid, p.90).

 

It is in this sense that Carr insists that everyday reality is permeated with narrative and that the human experience of time is one of configured time. ‘The narrative grasp of the story-teller’, he claims, ‘is not a leap beyond time but a way of being in time. It is no more alien to time than the curving banks are alien to the river or the potter’s hands to the clay’ (ibid, p.89). According to this perspective, literary stories such as fiction and autobiography do not in any sense ‘impose’ a structure and order on human action and life. Instead, they tend to reinforce and make more explicit the symbolisation that is already at work within a culture at the level of practical human action. The function of narratives such as autobiographies then, is simply to reveal structures or meanings that previously remained implicit or unrecognised, and thus to transform life and elevate it to another level.

But is Human Life Narratively Configured?

In characterising psychological life through the concept of narrative, however, are we not overplaying the significance played by the storied form in human experience? At the level of ‘personal’ experience, some researchers have argued that although human experience may bear some resemblance to the story, the idea that it takes on a narrative structure is mistaken. The core of this argument is that the coherent temporal unity lying at the heart of stories (the connection between beginning, middle and end) is something that is not at all intrinsic to real human events, real selves and real life. As literary theorist Frank Kermode argues, such ‘narrative properties cannot be ascribed to the real’ (cited in Wood, 1991: 160). The historian Louis Mink argues a similar point: ‘Stories are not lived but told … Life has no beginnings, middles and ends…Narrative qualities are transferred from art to life’ (cited in Wood, 1991: 161).

A related point is made by literary theorist Roland Barthes with regard to the selective capacity of the author of the story and his/her ability to create and determine coherence and order within the text. The literary text has a sense of structure and order because the elements and events making up the story have been ‘put there’ by the author. Disruptive elements have been ‘eliminated’. Life, in contrast to the careful manipulation of the story, cannot possibly have such a structure. Thus, it has been argued, whereas the story has an ‘implicit contract’ towards order, life has no such contract. (Bell, 1990: 174). In this sense, it is claimed, the story differs radically from ‘life’ insofar as in the latter, everything is ‘scrambled messages’, ‘chaos rather than order’ (see Carr cited in Wood, 1991: 161).

 

There is some truth to this argument. However, is it the case that life admits of no selection, that everything is ‘left in’, a vast array of ‘scrambled messages’? For example, Carr argues that our most basic capacity for attention and following through various activities or projects is premised on our capacity for selection. Hence, just like the author of the literary text, we partially determine the course of our own lives by selecting and omitting certain elements and events. As Carr argues:

Extraneous details are not left out but they are pushed into the background, saved for later, ranked in importance. And whose narrative voice is accomplishing all this? None but our own, of course. In planning our days and our lives we are composing the stories or the dramas we will act out and which will determine the focus of our attention and our endeavours, which will provide the principles for distinguishing foreground from background. (Carr cited in Wood, 1991: 165)

This may be story planning or plotting, but is it story-telling? ‘Most assuredly it is, quite literally, since we are constantly explaining ourselves to others. And finally each of us must count himself among his own audience since in explaining ourselves to others we are often trying to convince ourselves as well’ (Carr cited in Wood, 1991: 165). Hence, through the interrelated processes of story-plotting and story-telling we partially determine the stories of our lives.

The word ‘partial’ is important here, however, because we should not take this point – the self as a teller of her own story – too far. The critical arguments of theorists who dispute the analogy between ‘life’ and ‘narrative’ are important insofar as they emphasise the fact that, unlike the author of fiction, we do not totally create the materials we are to form. To a certain degree, we are stuck with what we have in the way of characters, capacities and circumstances. For instance, if a woman is married to a man who batters her every night when he comes in drunk from the pub, the fact that she secretly harbours fantasies of a white knight in shining armour coming to rescue her one day and that everything will turn out OK in the end, will have very little influence on her real life which is likely to be characterised by repeated abuse, dependency and further victimisation.

Likewise, just as we are unable to control the beginnings of our stories, so too are we unable, unlike the fictional author, to describe our already completed lives. Instead, we are in the middle of our lives and we cannot be sure how they will end. Hence, although I may have a plan to write my next book, I do not have any idea what may await me around the corner. As the old proverb goes, ‘There’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip’ (Crites, 1986: 166). All manner of things could happen to forestall my plan and render it irrelevant. For example, I may be made redundant, in which case I would probably feel there is little point in continuing to write a book. I may fall seriously ill and be rendered incapable of completing the project; or even if I remained capable, my goals and values may change in the face of confrontation with the possibility of death. I may have to rethink my aims and projects, change direction, and start a new story. Hence, the fact that we cannot wholly determine either the beginning or the end of our lives, suggests that our activities and projects do lack the formal order and coherence of literary stories. Life, unlike the story, does not have an ‘implicit contract’ towards order.

 

However, one of the main aims of a narrative psychological approach is to provide an alternative to certain social constructionist and postmodernist approaches which have considerably overplayed the disorderly, chaotic and variable nature of contemporary human experience (Crossley, 2000c). On a routine, daily basis, there is more order and coherence than such accounts suggest. This is nowhere more apparent than when we examine traumatising experiences, which have the capacity to painfully highlight the ‘normal’ state of narrative coherence which is routinely taken-for-granted and thus remains ‘unseen’ within the active experiencing of everyday existence.

Narrative Incoherence and the Breach of Trauma

One good example of disruptive traumatising experiences is that of chronic or serious illness. In recent years numerous studies of chronic illness have illustrated the potentially devastating impact they can have on a person’s life. This has been characterised as an ‘ontological assault’ in which some of the most basic, underlying existential assumptions that people hold about themselves and the world are thrown into disarray (Crossley, 2000b; Janoff Bulman, 1992; Kleinman, 1988; Taylor, S., 1989).

One of the most fundamental building blocks of the perceived world to be destroyed in the experience of chronic illness, is one’s basic sense of time. Many phenomenologically and existentially oriented writers have highlighted that time is basic and fundamental to an understanding of contemporary human existence insofar as our normal, routine temporal orientation is one of projecting into the future. It is important to make clear, however, that we are not necessarily consciously aware of the fact that we project into the future in this way. Our taken-for-granted assumptions about and towards time, are only made visible when a ‘shock’ or a ‘disruption’ occurs, throwing them into sharp relief (see Schutz, 1962; Garfinkel, 1984). The experience of chronic illness constitutes such a disruption. When a person receives a serious illness diagnosis, they are immediately shocked out of the complacency of the assumed futurity of their existence and their whole conception of themselves, their life and their world is likely to undergo radical changes. Frank (1995) uses the metaphor of ‘narrative wreckage’ to characterise such experiences.

 

In previous research, I have shown how much of the traumatic emotional and psychological impact of living with a HIV positive diagnosis can be traced back to the disturbance and disruption of this fundamentally experienced sense of ‘lived time’ (Davies, 1997). The threat of chaos, of meaninglessness, is evident in the following quote from Paula, a HIV positive woman I interviewed, whose husband, a haemophiliac had recently died from HIV infection. When I asked her about her plans for the future she said:

I don’t think of the future as in what is going to happen in a year’s time or whatever. My future seems to have stopped when Mark (her husband) died because I am on my own and I just live from day to day … I am only 28 and I feel as if I have been put in a shop and left there … It is as if I am stuck in a sort of bubble and nothing seems to, I can’t get out of it … it’s frightening to think that I am going to be like that until I die … It’s terrible when you have got no-one to talk to … that’s a large part of it now for me, it is the loneliness, especially of a night-time when the kids are in bed … I often keep the baby up just to keep me company, it is horrible, I shouldn’t because he needs his rest … but … if I do send him to bed, it is so silent, it is just me. Often I go to bed early because I can’t stand being on my own …

Paula’s comments make abundantly clear the ‘unmaking’ of her world, and highlight her previous taken-for-granted sense of identity and projection into the future.

Adapting to Trauma: Stories and Narrative Coherence

Research into the experience of chronic and serious illness illustrates the way in which our routine, ‘lived’ sense of time and identity is one of implicit connection and coherence. This sense is severely disrupted in the face of trauma and it is in such contexts that stories become important as a way of re- building a sense of connection and coherence. As the recent proliferation of autobiographies (especially in relation to diseases such as cancer and HIV/AIDS) and self-help groups suggests, for people suffering the trauma of illness, storytelling takes on a ‘renewed urgency’ (Mathieson and Stam, 1995: 284). Of course, such a narrative understanding bears a strong affinity with Freud’s work, which equated mental ill health with an ‘incoherent story’ and narrative breakdown. From this perspective, psychotherapy constituted an exercise in ‘story repair’ and, as Spence (1982) argued:

 

Freud made us aware of the persuasive power of a coherent narrative – in particular of the ways in which an aptly chosen reconstruction can fill the gap between two apparently unrelated events, and in the process, make sense out of nonsense. There seems no doubt but that a well constructed story possesses a kind of narrative truth that is real and immediate and carries an important significance for the process of therapeutic change.

Conclusion

This paper has aimed to introduce some of the main themes underpinning a narrative approach towards psychology. Drawing on some of dominant theories in this area, it has argued that human life carries within it a narrative structure to the extent that the the individual, at the level of tacit, phenomenological experience, is constantly projecting backwards and forwards in a manner that maintains a sense of coherence, unity, meaningfulness and identity. From this perspective, the characterisation of human experience as one of constant flux, variability and incoherence, as manifest in many discursive and postmodern approaches, fails to take sufficient account of the essential unity and integrity of everyday lived experience. In accordance with this theoretical perspective, it has been argued that the experience of traumatic events such as serious illness are instrumental in facilitating an appreciation of the way in which human life is routinely narratively configured. This is because the experience of traumatisation often serves to fundamentally disrupt the routine and orderly sense of existence, throwing into radical doubt our taken-for-granted assumptions about time, identity, meaning, and life itself. When this happens, it is possible to examine the way in which narratives become important in another sense. This is in terms of the way in which they are used to restore a sense of order and connection, and thus to re-establish a semblance of meaning in the life of the individual. Accordingly, narratives of illness are useful because they help to reveal structures or meanings that typically remain implicit or unrecognised, thus potentiating a transformation of life and elevation to another level.

References

Bell, M. (1990) ‘How Primordial is Narrative?’, in (ed) Nash, C. Narrative in culture: The uses of storytelling in the sciences, philosophy and literature, Routledge, London.

Bettelheim, B. (1976). The uses of enchantment: The meaning and importance of fairy tales, Knopf, NY.

Broyard, A. (1992) Intoxicated by my illness, and other writings on life and death, Clarkson, Patter, New York.

 

Bruner, J. (1991) The narrative construction of reality. Critical Inquiry, 18: 1-21.

Bruner, J. (1990) Acts of meaning, Harvard University Press, Massachusetts. Carr, D. (1986). Time, narrative and history, Indiana University Press, Bloomington.

Crites, S. (1986) Storytime: recollecting the past and projecting the future, in (ed) Sarbin, T. Narrative psychology: The storied nature of human conduct, Praeger, New York.

Crossley, M.L. (2000a) Introducing narrative psychology: Self, trauma and the construction of meaning, Open University Press, Buckinghamshire.

Crossley, M. (2000b) Rethinking health psychology, Open University Press, Buckinghamshire.

Crossley, M. (2000c) Narrative psychology, trauma, and the study of self/ identity, Theory and Psychology, Vol.10, No.4: 527-46.

Crossley, N. (1996) Intersubjectivity: The fabric of social becoming, Sage, London.

Davies M.L. (1997) Shattered assumptions: Time and the experience of long- term HIV positivity, Social Science and Medicine, 44, 5: 561-571.

del Vecchio Good, M., Munakata, T., Kobayashi, Y., Mattingly, C., Good, B. (1994) Oncology and narrative time, Social Science and Medicine. 38: 855-62.

Frank, A. (1995) The wounded storyteller: Body, illness and ethics, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Garfinkel H. (1984) Studies in ethnomethodology, Polity, Cambridge. Heidegger, M. (1962) Being and time, Blackwell, Oxford.

Howard, G. (1991) Culture Tales: A Narrative Approach to Thinking, Cross- Cultural Psychology and Psychotherapy, American Psychologist, 46, 3: 187-197.

Janoff-Bulman R. (1992) Shattered assumptions: Towards a new psychology of trauma, Free Press, New York.

Kierkegaard, S. (1987) Either/or, part 2, Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Kleinman, A. (1988) The illness narratives: Suffering, healing and the human condition, Basic Books, New York.

Langellier, K. and Peterson, E. (1996) Family storytelling as a strategy of social control, in Mumby, D. (ed) Narrative and social control, Vol.21, Sage Annual Review of Communication Research, London.

Lewis, C.S. (1952) Mere Christianity, Macmillan, New York.

MacIntyre, A. (1981) After virtue, Notre Dame University Press, Notre Dame.

Mair, M. (1989) Between Psychology and Psychotherapy, Routledge, London.

Mathieson, C. and Stam, H. (1995) Renogotiating identity: cancer narratives, Sociology of Health and Illness, 17, 3: 283-306.

McAdams, D. (1993) The Stories We Live By: Personal Myths and the Making of the Self, Morrow, New York.

McLeod, J. (1997) Narrative and Psychotherapy, Sage, London.

Polkinghorne, D.P. (1988) Narrative knowing and the human sciences, SUNY Press, Albany.

Priest, P. (1996) ‘“Gilt By Association”: Talk Show Participants Televisually Enhanced Status And Self-Esteem’, in Grodin, D. and Lindlof, T. (eds) Constructing The Self In A Mediated World, Sage, London.

Ricoeur, P. (1991) Life in quest of narrative’, in (ed) Wood, D. Paul Ricoeur: narrative and interpretation (pp.20-33), Routledge, London.

Sarbin, T.R. (eds) (1986) Narrative psychology: The storied nature of human conduct, Praeger, New York.

Schutz, A. (1962) Collected papers, I. Martin Nijhoff, The Hague.

Taylor, C. (1989) Sources of the self: The making of modern identity, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Taylor S. (1989) Positive illusions: Creative self deception and the healthy mind, Basic Books, New York.

Widdershoven, G. (1993) ‘The story of life: Hermeneutic perspective on the relationship between narrative and history’, in (eds) Josseleson, R. and Lieblich, A. The narrative study of lives, Vol.1, Sage, London.

 

Please see my related posts

Levels of Human Psychological Development in Integral Spiral Dynamics

Meta Integral Theories: Integral Theory, Critical Realism, and Complex Thought

Truth, Beauty, and Goodness: Integral Theory of Ken Wilber

Socio-Cybernetics and Constructivist Approaches

Sounds True: Speech, Language, and Communication

Cyber-Semiotics: Why Information is not enough

Society as Communication: Social Systems Theory of Niklas Luhmann

 

 

Key Sources of Research

Introduction to Narrative Psychology

Click to access Chapter_1_Michelle_Crossley.pdf

 

Narrative psychology and narrative analysis

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/274889276_Chapter_6_Narrative_psychology_and_narrative_analysis

Boundaries and Networks

Boundaries and Networks

 

Boundaries precede Networks.

It is the difference which makes the difference.

Boundaries in

  • Regionalism, Globalization, Multinational Firms (Trade/Economics)
  • Social Networks Theory/Relational Sociology (Sociology)
  • Complex Systems Theory – Micro/Macro Links (System Sciences)
  • Autocatalysis, Autopoiesis and Relational Biology (Biology)
  • System and Its Environment (Strategic Planning/Management)
  • Functional Silos (Supply Chain Management/Operations Management)
  • Individual and the Collective (Philosophy)
  • Self, Nature, Culture (Meta Integral Theories – Ken Wilber/Roy Bhaskar)
  • Fractal/Recursive/Holographic Paradigm (Cosmology)

 

 

Key Terms:

  • Order
  • Class
  • Identity
  • Culture
  • Meaning
  • Difference
  • Boundaries
  • Networks
  • Hierarchies
  • Heterarchy
  • Control
  • Power
  • System/Environment
  • Inside/Outside
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Included/Excluded
  • Multi-Level
  • Fractals
  • Scale
  • Multiplex
  • Ties
  • Chains
  • Silos
  • Connections
  • Links
  • Netchains
  • Operational Closure
  • Inequality
  • Information Asymmetry
  • Categories
  • Domain
  • Social Structure
  • Interaction
  • Interlocks
  • Institutions
  • Memory
  • Agency
  • Limits
  • Relational
  • Intra/Inter
  • Process
  • Subjective/Objective

 

Chapter 2
The Relational Turn in Social Sciences

Recent times have witnessed relational sociology, as arguably the major form of relational scholarship, gain considerable scholarly momentum. There is a forthcoming major handbook (Dépelteau, 2018), significant edited collections such as Conceptualizing relational sociology (Powell & Dépelteau, 2013), Applying relational sociology (Dépelteau & Powell, 2013), and in the broader leadership literatures Advancing relational leadership research (Uhl-Bien & Ospina, 2012).  In addition, there have been key texts from Crossley (2011), the work of Donati (1983, 1991, 2011) has become more accessible in English (to which he thanks Margaret Archer for, stating she “greatly encouraged and assisted me in presenting my theory to an international audience (Donati, 2011, p. xvii)), and – although less engaged with by English-speaking audiences—Bajoit’s (1992) Pour une sociologie relationnelle.

The Canadian Sociological Association has established a research cluster for relational sociology, with regular symposia, meetings, and events. Significantly, in 2015 the International Review of Sociology/ Revue Internationale de Sociolgie published a special section on relational sociology. Edited by Prandini (2015) and with contributions from Crossley (2015), Dépelteau (2015), Donati (2015), and Fuhse (2015), this special section sought to ascertain whether an original and international sociological paradigm entitled “relational sociology” could be identified. Prandini (2015) argues:

A new and original social paradigm is recognizable only if it accedes to the world stage of the global scientific system constituted and structured by networks of scientific scholars, scientific contributions published in scientific journals, books, internet sites, etc., fueled by a vast array of international meetings, seminars, conferences, and so on. It is only at this global level that we can decide if a new paradigm is gaining a global stage or not. Put in other words: are we really witnessing a new and emergent sociological ‘school’, or are we observing only a sort of ‘esprit du temp’ which is able to catalyse similar intuitions and sociological insights? (pp. 1–2)

At the end of his paper, Prandini (2015) contends that there is less a paradigm (in its precise Kuhnian meaning) and instead it is better to speak of a “relational turn” in sociology. Built on a strong and clear convergence toward a common critique of classic sociological theories, it is possibly the early stages of an emerging paradigm but such a label is currently premature. The real breakthrough of this turn is in forcing social scientists to specify “accurately the ontology of society and social relation and to discover new methods and research techniques well suited to study it” (Prandini, 2015, p. 13).

Relational theory is, as Emirbayer (1997) declares, beyond any one disciplinary background, national tradition, or analytic and empirical point of view. Outside of the major centers of Europe and the USA, Yanjie Bian hosted the International Conference on Relational Sociology at the Institute for Empirical Social Science of Xi’an Jiaotong University, and Jan Fuhse hosted the international symposium Relational Sociology: Transatlantic Impulses for the Social Sciences at Humboldt University of Berlin. Donati (2011) claims that interest in social relations can be found in philosophy (from the metaphysical point of view), psychology (from the psychic point of view), economics (from the resource perspective), law (control by rule), and even biology (bioethics). The interest is also not limited to the social sciences, with Bradbury and Lichtenstein (2000) noting:

The interdependent, interrelated nature of the world has also been discovered by physicists in their study of quantum reality. In their quest to identify the basic building blocks of the natural world, quantum physicists found that atomic particles appeared more as relations than as discrete objects (Capra 1975; Wolf 1980), and that space itself is not empty but is filled with potential (Bohm 1988). Heisenberg’s discovery early this century that every observation irrevocably changes the object being observed, further fueled the recognition that human consciousness plays an irreversible role in our understanding of reality (Bachelard, 1934/1984; Wilber 1982; Jahn & Dunne 1987). (p. 552)

Apart from its widespread contemporary appeal, relational thinking has a long history. The North American stream arguably finds its roots in the New York School, European scholars such as Karl Marx, Georg Simmel, Gabriel Tarde, Norbert Elias, Niklas Luhmann, Pierre Bourdieu, Bruno Latour, among others, have long argued for various relational approaches (even if not using that label), and Emirbayer traces the tradition of privileging relations rather than substances to pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Heraclitus. What is consistently germane across these various scholars is a critique of substantialism in classic sociological accounts. This also arguably speaks to the proliferation of relational scholarship in the past few decades as globalized forces are causing a rethink of spatio-temporal conditions (e.g., the nation state and geographic borders). In breaking down the substantialist approaches, and their underlying analytical dualisms, relational scholarship asks questions of the ontological and epistemological as much as the empirical.

Contemporary thought and analysis in social theory is overrun with “turns.” In this chapter, rather than be seduced by contemporary attention to a relational turn in the social sciences, I seek to highlight some major events, trajectories, or streams of relational thought. In doing so, I am critically aware of the difficulty of arguing for relational understanding and then constructing significant events as though they are entities in and of their own right. Within the confines of a single chapter, and mindful of the role that this chapter is playing the book (e.g., setting some context/trajectory for developing my argument), my goal is to cite key developments and how they relate to one another and my argument. Given my particular interest in organizing activity, my focus is on the Human Relations Movement of the early twentieth century, the New York School of relational sociology, and then contemporary developments in sociology, leadership, and to a lesser extent, the natural sciences. While I concede that there is increasing interest in what has come to be known as “relational sociology” (see also the following chapter), relational scholarship has a long and diverse intellectual history. Importantly though, as Powell and Dépelteau (2013) note, relational sociology is not a heterogeneous label and as a collection of scholars, is still quite some way from achieving any form of  consensus. Whether consensus is required, or even desirable, for relational scholarship is questionable. The diversity of ontological and methodological starting points allows scholars to investigate a wide range of phenomena. This diversity, complexity, depth, and vitality enable dialogue and debate without requiring consensus. What binds them together is their scholarly focus on relations rather than alignment with a specific empirical object and/or method of inquiry

 

CALL FOR PAPERS

The Relational Turn in Sociology: Implications for the Study of Society, Culture, and Persons

Special issue of the academic journal Stan Rzeczy [State of Affairs]

The relational approach, which has a long tradition, has re-emerged and strengthened, forming a new, vital movement of divergent variants in sociology. Initiated and systematically developed by Pierpaolo Donati, it has grown into what is called the Italian relational turn, later followed by a proliferation of relational sociologies of various origins, including the works of Harrison C. White, Charles Tilly, Mustafa Emirbayer, Pierre Bourdieu and others. After the postmodern diffusion and beyond the stagnation of interpretative against normative conceptualizations of social life, relational sociology offers new conceptual tools and plays a leading role in reconstructing sociology both on theoretical and applied planes.

Modern sciences are founded on the study of relations, rather than essences or substances. From the outset, the relational approach has had to pave its way in sociology against holistic (“science of society”) and nominalistic (“science of individuals”) orientations. Social relations are among the key sociological concepts and have been studied as constitutive for social bonding. On the micro-level, interpersonal relations have been in the center of attention in the area where sociology and social psychology overlap. The relational turn consists not only of focusing on social relations; it also involves introducing relational categories of analysis.

The category of social relations is certainly not new in social theory. What is new is the way of looking at them. Contemporary relational thinking assumes radical changes in the ontological, epistemological, and phenomenological status of social relations. Refocusing on social relations, on their constitution and emergent effects leads us to a new way of describing, understanding and explaining social and cultural phenomena as relational facts.

A particularly significant feature of relational sociology resides in its capacity to broaden the theory of the human subject not only as a self, agent, and actor, but also through the development of the concept of the person; more precisely, through deeper research on the relational constitution of the human person as a social subject emerging from relational reflexivity (dialogue between ‘I’, ‘Me’, ‘We’, ‘You’ in a situated social context) – in other words, a view of the human person as homo relatus. Analyzing these processes leads to a sui generis relational theory of agency.

Various or divergent theories of contemporary social and cultural processes evoke relationality, but relational analysis differs from “relationistic” positions. Most existing approaches, both historical and modern, cannot be considered relational sociology in a true sense unless the social relation is conceived as a reality sui generis and society is conceptualized as a network of social relations.

“Turn” refers to a gradual transformation of the field of scientific theories, rather than to a scientific revolution. Several characteristic features of a “turn” appear to correspond well with significant traits of the relational turn: an epistemological rupture, which is brought about by introducing an innovative vocabulary that opens up new analytic perspectives;  an attempt to reconstruct the scientific domains of knowledge under conditions of their growing fragmentation; introduction of a novel perspective that shows existing knowledge in a new light; moving on from the research object to the category of analysis. These are the features of a genuine new intellectual movement that enters into debates and polemics, particularly as regards various ways of understanding relations and relationality.

The synergetic effect of a creative exchange of ideas between the founders of theories that have been independently pursued – the relational theory of society developed by Pierpaolo Donati and the theory of morphogenic society, developed on the basis of critical realism by Margaret S. Archer – proves particularly fruitful for the study of the after-modern and the new possibilities of a morphogenic society, in which the challenge of re-articulating social relations remains of central importance.

The aim of this special issue is to reflect upon the innovative potential of contemporary relational theorizing of society, culture, and persons and to go beyond superficial statements on relational sociology by addressing these issues through in-depth investigations. We invite authors to take on problems of relational sociology by discussing its main assumptions, by conceptual clarifications, by re-articulating the concepts pertinent to understanding social phenomena in relational terms, and by empirical studies guided by methodological rules of relational analysis.

http://www.stanrzeczy.edu.pl

 

 

Please see my related posts:

Boundary Spanning in Multinational and Transnational Corporations

Relational Turn in Economic Geography

Networks and Hierarchies

Boundaries and Relational Sociology

Autocatalysis, Autopoiesis and Relational Biology

Society as Communication: Social Systems Theory of Niklas Luhmann

Art of Long View: Future, Uncertainty and Scenario Planning

 

Key Sources of Research:

 

 

BOUNDARIES/NETWORKS

Chapter of Book ME++

Click to access 9780262633130_sch_0001.pdf

 

 


Relational Sociology: Transatlantic Impulses for the Social Sciences

International Symposium, Berlin, September 25/26, 2008

http://www.relational-sociology.de

 

 

 

Symposium on Relational Sociology

https://sozlog.wordpress.com/2008/09/29/symposion-on-relational-sociology/

 

Relational sociology

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relational_sociology

 

 

 

Networks and Boundaries

Athanasios Karafillidis

RWTH Aachen University
Correspondence: atha@karafillidis.com

Paper presented at the International Symposium
„Relational Sociology: Transatlantic Impulses for the Social Sciences“,
Berlin,

September 25-26, 2008

Click to access Netbound.pdf

 

 

Theorising Borders as Mechanisms of Connection

Anthony Cooper

Click to access 2013cooperaphd.pdf

 

 

Boundaries, Hierarchies and Networks in Complex Systems

PAUL CILLIERS

2001

Click to access Cilliers-2001-Boundaries-Hierarchies-and-Networks.pdf

 

Fractal Boundaries of Complex Networks

Jia Shao, Sergey V. Buldyrev, Reuven Cohen
Maksim Kitsak1, Shlomo Havlin, and H. Eugene Stanley

Click to access boundaries.pdf

 

Rethinking the Financial Network

Speech given by
Andrew G Haldane, Executive Director, Financial Stability, Bank of England

At the Financial Student Association, Amsterdam

28 April 2009

Click to access speech386.pdf

 

 

 

Knowledge, limits and boundaries

Paul Cilliers

Click to access cilliers%202005%20knowledge%20limits.pdf

 

 

On the Status of Boundaries, both Natural and Organizational: A Complex Systems Perspective

Kurt A. Richardson & Michael R. Lissack

Click to access 6b5711dc6782e451ad32078b799cd487cb3b.pdf

Exploring System Boundaries: Complexity Theory and Legal Autopoiesis

Thomas Edward Webb

Click to access T.E._Webb_Exploring_System_Boundaries_accepted_version_.pdf

 

 

The Role of Leaders in Managing Organisation Boundaries

Click to access v10286-012-0001-0.pdf

 

 

 

Managing Boundary Spanning Elements: An Introduction

Sunil Sahadev, Keyoor Purani, and Neeru Malhotra

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Michel_Rod/publication/272733714_Sahadev_S_Purani_K_and_Malhotra_N_eds_Boundary_Spanning_Elements_and_the_Marketing_Function_in_Organizations_Springer/links/5566139008aec22682ff167f/Sahadev-S-Purani-K-and-Malhotra-N-eds-Boundary-Spanning-Elements-and-the-Marketing-Function-in-Organizations-Springer.pdf#page=8

 

 

 

 

Boundary-Spanning in Organizations: Network, Influence and Conflict

Edited by Janice Langan Fox, Cary Cooper

 

https://www.routledge.com/Boundary-Spanning-in-Organizations-Network-Influence-and-Conflict/Langan-Fox-Cooper/p/book/9780415628839

A Borderless World and Nationless Firms?

Click to access prism_chapter.pdf

 

 

 

 

ADAPTATION AND THE BOUNDARY OF MULTINATIONAL FIRMS

Arnaud Costinot
Lindsay Oldenski
James E. Rauch

January 2009

Click to access w14668.pdf

http://economics.mit.edu/files/6456

 

The Boundaries of Multinational Enterprises and the Theory of International Trade

James R. Markusen

http://pubs.aeaweb.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1257/jep.9.2.169

 

Incomplete Contracts and the Boundaries of the Multinational Firm

Nathan Nunn

Daniel Trefler§

June 2008

Click to access NunnTreflerPaper.pdf

 

 

Complexity and Philosophy

Francis HEYLIGHEN

Paul CILLIERS,

Carlos GERSHENSON

Click to access 0604072.pdf

 

 

 

Complexity, Deconstruction and Relativism

Paul Cilliers

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.466.6144&rep=rep1&type=pdf

Click to access The_importance_of_a_certain_slowness.pdf

 

 

Towards an Economy of Complexity: Derrida, Morin and Bataille

Oliver Human

Stellenbosch University, South Africa

Paul Cilliers

Click to access Human_Complexity.pdf

 

 

 

The architecture of complexity

Herbert Simon

Click to access Thearchitectureofcomplexity.pdf

 

 

 

 

Complexity and postmodernism

Understanding complex systems

Paul Cilliers

Click to access Paul-Cilliers-Complexity-and-Postmodernism-Understanding-Complex-Systems-1998.pdf

 

 

Complexity, Difference and Identity
An Ethical Perspective

Paul Cilliers, Rika Preiser (Eds.)

http://www.springer.com/us/book/9789048191864

 

Introduction to Critical Complexity. Collected Essays by Paul Cilliers

Click to access Introduction-to-Critical-Complexity-Collected-Essays-by-Paul-Cilliers.pdf

 

 

Chapter 2
The Relational Turn in Social Sciences

Beyond Leadership
A Relational Approach to Organizational Theory in Education

Authors: Eacott, Scott

http://www.springer.com/us/book/9789811065675

http://scotteacott.com/reading-list/

 

 

Relational Sociology: A New Paradigm for the Social Sciences

By Pierpaolo Donati

 

 

 

Conceptualizing Relational Sociology: Ontological and Theoretical Issues

edited by C. Powell, F. Dépelteau

 

Applying Relational Sociology: Relations, Networks, and Society,

edited by Francçois Depélteau and Christopher Powell.
Hampshire, UK: Palgrave Macmillan,

 

 

 

Birth and development of the relational theory of society:
a journey looking for a deep ‘relational sociology

Click to access donati_birth_and_development_of_the_relational_theory_of_society.pdf

 

 

 

Beyond the Manifesto: Mustafa Emirbayer and Relational Sociology

Lily Liang Sida Liu

Click to access Working-Paper-2017-02.pdf

 

 

 

 

Towards Relational Sociology

By Nick Crossley

 

 

 

 

Manifesto for a Relational Sociology

Mustafa Emirbayer

The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 103, No. 2. (Sep., 1997), pp. 281-317

Click to access Mustafa%20Emirbayer_Manifesto%20for%20a%20Relational%20Sociology.pdf

 

 

 

TOWARDS A CONCEPTUALIZATION OF BORDER: THE CENTRAL EUROPEAN EXPERIENCE

by Josef Langer (Klagenfurt)

Click to access JLanger3.pdf

 

 

 

 

THE STUDY OF BOUNDARIES IN THE SOCIAL SCIENCES

Michele Lamont and Vira ́g Molnar

Click to access m.lamont-v.molnar-the_study_of_boundaries.pdf

 

 

 

Beyond “the relationship between the individual and society”: broadening and deepening relational thinking in group analysis

Sasha Roseneil

Click to access 11305548.pdf

 

 

 

The Relational Turn in Sociology: Implications for the Study of Society, Culture, and Persons

Special issue of the academic journal Stan Rzeczy [State of Affairs]

https://calenda.org/385129?file=1

Click to access relational_turn_speakers.pdf

 

 

NETWORKS IN THE SOCIAL SCIENCES: COMPARING ACTOR-NETWORK THEORY AND SOCIAL NETWORK ANALYSIS

LILLA VICSEK1 – GÁBOR KIRÁLY – HANNA KÓNYA

Society as Communication: Social Systems Theory of Niklas Luhmann

Society as Communication: Social Systems Theory of Niklas Luhmann

 

From Luhmann Reconsidered: Steps Towards an Empirical Research Programme in the Sociology of Communication?

Although Luhmann formulated with modesty and precaution, for example in Die Wissenschaft der Gesellschaft (1990a, at pp. 412f.), that his theory claims to be a universal one because it is self-referential, the “operational closure” that follows from this assumption easily generates a problem for empirical research. Can a theory which considers society— and science as one of its subsystems—operationally closed, nevertheless contribute to the project of Enlightenment which Popper (1945) so vigorously identified as the driver of an open society? How can a theory which proclaims itself to be circular and universal nevertheless claim to celebrate “the triumph of the Enlightenment” (Luhmann, 1990a, at p. 548)? Is the lack of an empirical program of research building on Luhmann’s theory fortuitous or does it indicate that this theory should be considered as a philosophy rather than a heuristic for the explanation of operations in social systems?

In my opinion, Luhmann’s sociological theory of communications contains important elements which have hitherto not sufficiently been appreciated in the empirical traditions of sociology and communication studies (Leydesdorff, 1996; Seidl & Becker, 2006; Grant, 2007). Anthony Giddens (1984, at p. xxxvii), for example, had no doubt that “these newer versions of Parsonianism, particularly Luhmann and Habermas, were to be repudiated despite the sophistication and importance of these authors.” However, Giddens focused on explaining action; social structure was black-boxed in his “structuration theory” as a “duality” which precedes action as “rules and resources,” and follows from the aggregation of human actions, for example, as institutions (Leydesdorff, 1993). According to Giddens (1984), social structures exist in social reality only by implication, i.e., in their “instantiation” in the knowledgeable activities of situated actors. This duality of social structure cannot be specified empirically without reference to actions and institutions because structure is considered “outside of time-space” (Giddens, 1981, at pp. 171f.) and as an “absent set of differences” (Giddens, 1979, at p. 64).

Giddens’s “virtuality” of structure can also be considered as a dynamic extension of the sociological concept of latency (Lazersfeld & Henry, 1968): the structural dimensions of a social network system are not manifest to participating agents. The agents may be able to conjecture these dimensions reflexively, but predictably to a variable extent. However, Luhmann (1984) theorized about social systems of communication as structural, yet not directly observable dynamics;1 human agents (“consciousness”) were defined as the (structurally coupled and therefore necessary) environment of systems of social coordination (Luhmann, 1984, 1986a, 2002). Nevertheless, the communicative competencies of the agents and their knowledge base can be expected to set limits to their capacity to (a) understand the signals in the network and also the situational meaning in which the network structure resounds, (b) decompose these two dimensions (that is, the information contents of messages and their meaning), and (c) participate in further communication by reflexive restructuration of this relation—between the information contents of messages and their meaning—in follow-up communications. The two systems layers (“consciousness” and “communication”) can be considered as reflexively co-evolving (or not!). This is appreciated by Luhmann (1977)—following Parsons (1968, at p. 437)—as “interpenetration.”

 

Key Ideas:

  • Society as Communication
  • Self Referentiality
  • Meaning and Language
  • Social Autopoiesis
  • Society as Social System

 

Key People:

  • Dirk Baecker
  • Niklas Luhmann
  • Loet Leydesdorff
  • Klaus Krippendorff

 

 

Key Sources of Research:

 

Systemic Theories of Communication

Dirk Baecker

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1865641

 

Niklas Luhmann and Cybernetics

Michael Paetau

https://papiro.unizar.es/ojs/index.php/rc51-jos/article/view/790

 

 

Communication and Language in Niklas Luhmann’s Systems-Theory

Kathrin Maurer

Click to access a02n16.pdf

 

Rewriting Theory: From Autopoiesis to Communication

Raf Vanderstraeten

 

 

 

How Recursive is Communication

Heinz Von Foerster

Click to access Luhmann.pdf

 

Luhmann, Habermas, and the Theory of Communication

Loet Leydesdorff

http://www.leydesdorff.net/montreal.htm

 

Luhmann Reconsidered:
Steps Towards an Empirical Research Programme in the Sociology of Communication?

Loet Leydesdorff

Click to access 0911.1041.pdf

 

THE EVOLUTION OF COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS

Loet Leydesdorff

 

http://www.leydesdorff.net/evolcomm/index.htm

 

THE NON-LINEAR DYNAMICS OF SOCIOLOGICAL REFLECTIONS

Loet Leydesdorff

http://www.leydesdorff.net/commsoc.htm

 

Information, Meaning, and Intellectual Organization in Networks of Inter-Human Communication 

Loet Leydesdorff

Click to access 1406.5688.pdf

 

Radical Constructivism and Radical Constructedness: Luhmann’s Sociology and the Non-linear Dynamics of Expectations

Loet Leydesdorff

 

Click to access v13Feb12.pdf

 

Communication, Music, and Speech about Music

Steven Feld

Click to access 1984+Comm%2C+Music%2C+Sp.pdf

 

A Recursive Theory of Communication

Klaus Krippendorff

 

http://repository.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1215&context=asc_papers&sei-redir=1&referer=https%3A%2F%2Fscholar.google.com%2Fscholar%3Fhl%3Den%26q%3D%2522A%2BRecursive%2BTheory%2Bof%2BCommunication%26btnG%3D%26as_sdt%3D1%252C47%26as_sdtp%3D#search=%22Recursive%20Theory%20Communication%22

 

Geometry of Consciousness

Geometry of Consciousness

 

From Synergetics : Geometry of Thinking

 

0.1 “Synergetics is the geometry of thinking. How we think is epistemology, and epistemology is modelable; which is to say that knowledge organizes itself geometrically…” (I, 905.01)

0.2 “Any conceptual thought is a system and is structured tetrahedrally. This is because all conceptuality is polyhedral.” (I, 501.101) “By tetrahedron, we mean the minimum thinkable set that would subdivide Universe and have interconnectedness where it comes back upon itself.” (I, 620.03)

0.3 “All systems are polyhedra: All polyhedra are systems.” (II, 400.56)

 

Key People:

  • Ralph Abraham
  • BuckMinster Fuller
  • Stafford Beer
  • Arthur M. Young
  • Anthony Judge
  • Hermann Haken

 

 

Key Sources of Research:

 

Dynamics: Geometry of Behavior

Ralph Abraham

Click to access ms22.pdf

Click to access ms149.pdf

Click to access ms148.pdf

Click to access ms147.pdf

Click to access ms146.pdf

Click to access ms145.pdf

Click to access ms144.pdf

Click to access ms143.pdf

Click to access ms140.pdf

Click to access ms139.pdf

Click to access ms137.pdf

Click to access ms134.pdf

Click to access ms134b.pdf

Click to access rmic-pub.pdf

Click to access rmkplusfigs.pdf

 

Synergetics : Geometry of Thinking

BuckMinster Fuller

http://www.rwgrayprojects.com/synergetics/intro/scenario.html

Click to access folding.great.circles.2008.pdf

 

Anthony Judge

https://www.laetusinpraesens.org/docs00s/synerg.php

https://www.laetusinpraesens.org/docs80s/84nsetsx/x17.php

 

Team Syntegrity

Stafford Beer

Click to access TSI-Artikel.pdf

Click to access Stafford_Beer_-_Origins_Team_Syntegrity.pdf

 

Synergetics

Haken

Click to access Kroeger.pdf

 

Geometry of Meaning

Arthur Young

http://www.arthuryoung.com/theory.html

 

The Reflexive Universe: Evolution of Consciousness

Young, Arthur M.

1976

 

Consciousness: The Last Frontier of Geometry

Catherine A. Gorini

 

Click to access gorini_frontier91594.pdf

 

Mereon Matrix

http://www.mereon.org

https://www.cymascope.com/cyma_research/mereon_research.html

Click to access 756449251.pdf

http://www.frankchester.com

Click to access Quaternions-Phoenix-Bird-presentation-v14.pdf

Semiotics, Bio-Semiotics and Cyber Semiotics

Semiotics, Bio-Semiotics, and Cyber Semiotics

 

From The Biosemiotic Approach in Biology: Theoretical Bases and Applied Models

Biosemiotics is a growing field that investigates semiotic processes in the living realm in an attempt to combine the findings of the biological sciences and semiotics. Semiotic processes are more or less what biologists have typically referred to as “signals,” “codes,” and “information pro- cessing” in biosystems, but these processes are here understood under the more general notion of semiosis, that is, the production, action, and interpretation of signs. Thus, biosemiotics can be seen as biology interpreted as a study of living sign systems—which also means that semiosis or sign process can be seen as the very nature of life itself. In other words, biosemiotics is a field of research investigating semiotic processes (meaning, signification, communication, and habit formation in living systems) and the physicochemical preconditions for sign action and interpretation.

To treat biosemiotics as biology interpreted as sign systems study is to emphasize an important intertheoretical relation between biology as we know it (as a field of inquiry) and semiotics (the study of signs). Biosemiotics offers a way of understanding life in which it is considered not just from the perspectives of physics and chemistry, but also from a view of living systems that stresses the role of signs conveyed and inter- preted by other signs in a variety of ways, including by means of molecules. In this sense, biosemiotics takes for granted and preserves the complexity of living processes as revealed by the existing fields of biology, from molecular biology to brain science and behavioral studies. However, biosemiotics attempts to bring together separate findings of the various disciplines of biology (including evolutionary biology) into a sign- theoretical perspective concerning the central phenomena of the living world, from the ribosome to the ecosystem and from the beginnings of life to its ultimate meanings. From this perspective, no positivist (i.e., theory-reductionist) form of unification is implied, but simply a broader approach to life processes in general, paying attention to the location of biology between the psychological (the humanities) and the physical (natural) sciences.

Furthermore, by incorporating new concepts, models, and theories from biology into the study of signs, biosemiotics attempts to shed new light on some of the unsolved questions within the general study of sign processes (semiotics), such as the question about the origins of signification in the universe (e.g., Hoffmeyer 1996), and the major thresholds in the levels and evolution of semiosis (Sebeok 1997; Deacon 1997; Kull 2000; Nöth 2000). Here, signification (and sign action) is understood in a broad sense, that is, not simply as the transfer of information, but also as the generation of the very content and meaning of that information in all living sign producers and sign receivers.

Sign processes are thus taken as real: they are governed by regularities (habits, or natural rules) that can be discovered and explained. They are intrinsic in living nature, but we can access them—not directly, but indirectly through other sign processes (e.g., scientific measurements and qualitative distinction methods)—even though the human representation and understanding of these processes in the construction of explanations is built up as a separate scientific sign system distinct from the organisms’ own sign processes.

One of the central characteristics of living systems is the highly organized character of their physical and chemical processes, partly based upon informational and molecular properties of what has been described in the 1960s as the genetic code (or, more precisely, organic codes). Distinguished biologists, such as Ernst Mayr (1982), have seen these informational aspects as one of the emergent features of life, namely, as a set of processes that distinguishes life from everything else in the physical world, except perhaps human-made computers. However, while the informational teleology of computer programs are derived, qua being designed by humans to achieve specific goals, the teleology and informational characteristics of organisms are intrinsic, qua having evolved naturally, through adaptational and evolutionary processes. The reductionist and mechanistic tradition in biology (and philosophy of biology) has seen such processes as being purely physical and having to do with only efficient causation. Biosemiotics is an attempt to use the concepts of semiotics in the sense employed by Charles Sanders Peirce to answer questions about the biological emergence of meaning, intentionality, and a psychological world (CP 5:484).  Indeed, these are questions that are hard to answer within a purely mechanistic and reductionist framework.

 

From The Biosemiotic Approach in Biology: Theoretical Bases and Applied Models

The term “biosemiotic” was first used by F. S. Rothschild in 1962, but Thomas Sebeok has done much to popularize the term and the field.  Apart from Charles Peirce (1939–1914) and Charles Morris (1901– 1979), early pioneers of biosemiotics were Jakob von Uexküll (1864– 1944), Heini Hediger (1908–1992), and Giorgio Prodi (1928–1987), and the founding fathers were Thomas Sebeok (1920–2001) and Thure von Uexküll (1908–2004). After 2000, an institutionalization of biosemiotics can be noticed: since 2001, annual international meetings of biosemioticians have been taking place (initially organized by the Copenhagen and Tartu groups); in 2004, the International Society for Biosemiotic Studies was established (with Jesper Hoffmeyer as its first president; see Favareau 2005); the specialized publications Journal of Biosemiotics (Nova Science) and Biosemiotics (Springer) have appeared; several collections of papers have characterized the scope and recent projects in biosemiotics, such as a special issue of Semiotica 127 (1/4) (1999), Sign Systems Studies 30 (1) (2002), Sebeok and Umiker-Sebeok 1992, Witzany 2007, and Barbieri 2007.

Also, from the 1960s to the 1990s, the semiotic approach in biology was developed in various branches:

a. Zoosemiotics, the semiotics of animal behavior and communication

b. Cellular and molecular semiotics, the study of organic codes and protolinguistic features of cellular processes

c. Phytosemiotics, or sign processes in plant life

d. Endosemiotics, or sign processes in the organism’s body

e. Semiotics in neurobiology

f. Origins of semiosis and semiotic thresholds

 

From Cybersemiotics: A New Foundation for Transdisciplinary Theory of Information, Cognition, Meaningful Communication and the Interaction Between Nature and Culture

 

Cybersemiotics constructs a non-reductionist framework in order to integrate third person knowledge from the exact sciences and the life sciences with first person knowledge described as the qualities of feeling in humanities and second person intersubjective knowledge of the partly linguistic communicative interactions, on which the social and cultural aspects of reality are based. The modern view of the universe as made through evolution in irreversible time, forces us to view man as a product of evolution and therefore an observer from inside the universe. This changes the way we conceptualize the problem and the role of consciousness in nature and culture. The theory of evolution forces us to conceive the natural and social sciences as well as the humanities together in one theoretical framework of unrestricted or absolute naturalism, where consciousness as well as culture is part of nature. But the theories of the phenomenological life world and the hermeneutics of the meaning of communication seem to defy classical scientific explanations. The humanities therefore send another insight the opposite way down the evolutionary ladder, with questions like: What is the role of consciousness, signs and meaning in the development of our knowledge about evolution? Phenomenology and hermeneutics show the sciences that their prerequisites are embodied living conscious beings imbued with meaningful language and with a culture. One can see the world view that emerges from the work of the sciences as a reconstruction back into time of our present ecological and evolutionary self- understanding as semiotic intersubjective conscious cultural and historical creatures, but unable to handle the aspects of meaning and conscious awareness and therefore leaving it out of the story. Cybersemiotics proposes to solve the dualistic paradox by starting in the middle with semiotic cognition and communication as a basic sort of reality in which all our knowledge is created and then suggests that knowledge develops into four aspects of human reality: Our surrounding nature described by the physical and chemical natural sciences, our corporality described by the life sciences such as biology and medicine, our inner world of subjective experience described by phenomenologically based investigations and our social world described by the social sciences. I call this alternative model to the positivistic hierarchy the cybersemiotic star. The article explains the new understanding of Wissenschaft that emerges from Peirce’s and Luhmann’s conceptions.

 

Key People:

  • Thomas Sebeok
  • L M Rocha
  • Jesper Hoffmeyer
  • Charles Sanders  Pierce
  • Soren Brier
  • Marcello Barbieri
  • Howard Pattee
  • Jakob von Uexküll
  • Stanley Salthe
  • Claus Emmeche
  • M. Florkin
  • Kalevi Kull
  • Donald Favareau
  • Umberto Eco
  • Koichiro Matsuno
  • Thure von Uexküll
  • Gregory Bateson

 

Key Sources of Research:

 

A Short History of Biosemiotics

Marcello Barbieri

Click to access Marcello%20Barbieri%20(2009)%20A%20Short%20History%20of%20Biosemiotics.pdf

 

 

The Biosemiotic Approach in Biology : Theoretical Bases and Applied Models

Jo ã o Queiroz, Claus Emmeche, Kalevi Kull, and Charbel El-Hani

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.94.171&rep=rep1&type=pdf

 

 

Irreducible and complementary semiotic forms

Howard Pattee

 

Click to access irreducible_and_complementary_semiotic_howard_pattee.pdf

 

EVOLVING SELF-REFERENCE: Matter, Symbols, AND SEMANTIC CLOSURE 

Howard Pattee

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download;jsessionid=0E1C125F151B5165F839E8FAC5411A00?doi=10.1.1.17.6467&rep=rep1&type=pdf

 

Essential Readings in Biosemiotics: Anthology and Commentary

D. Favareau,

Essential Readings in Biosemiotics, Biosemiotics 3,

Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

 

 

Introduction: An Evolutionary History of Biosemiotics

Donald Favareau

Essential Readings in Biosemiotics, Biosemiotics 3

 

Click to access Lesson_13_Favareau_History_biosemiotics.pdf

 

 

Introduction to Biosemiotics: The New Biological Synthesis

edited by Marcello Barbieri

 

Cybersemiotics:
A New Foundation for Transdisciplinary Theory of Information, Cognition, Meaningful Communication and the Interaction Between Nature and Culture

Søren Brier

 

Click to access Brier,%20Cybersemiotics,%20Vol.%209,%20No.%202.pdf

 

 

Levels of Cybersemiotics: Possible ontologies of signification

Søren Brier

 

Click to access 2_Brier_v1_2.pdf

 

Design and Information in Biology: From Molecules to Systems

By J. A. Bryant

 

Cognitive Biology: Dealing with Information from Bacteria to Minds

By Gennaro Auletta

 

The cell as the smallest DNA-based molecular computer

Sungchul Ji

 

Click to access The_cell_as_the_smallest_DNA_based_molecular_computer.pdf

 

Semiotics Web page of Umberto Eco

http://www.umbertoeco.com/en/semiotics-links.html

 

Biosemiotics in the twentieth century: A view from biology

KALEVI KULL

 

Click to access semi.1999.127.385.pdf

 

Biosemiotics: a new understanding of life

Marcello Barbieri

 

Click to access Bar08.pdf

 

What Does it Take to Produce Interpretation? Informational, Peircean and Code-Semiotic Views on Biosemiotics

Søren Brier & Cliff Joslyn

Click to access 02e7e529745b2b7e66000000.pdf

 

Spencer-Brown, G. (1972).

Laws of Form

New York: Crown Publishers

 

The Paradigm of Peircean Biosemiotics

Søren Brier

Click to access Brier_2008_peircean_biosemiotics.pdf

 

BIOSEMIOTICS AND BIOPHYSICS — THE FUNDAMENTAL APPROACHES TO THE STUDY OF LIFE

KALEVI KULL

Click to access BiosemBiophys.pdf

 

Biosemiotic Questions

Kalevi Kull & Claus Emmeche & Donald Favareau

Click to access a4414fbb4bdca11561d08cb4de0a0d6c.pdf