Why is maintaining social order important?

Creation and maintenance of social order in everyday life - an overview of the phenomenological perspective

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1. The essence of the everyday world

2. Origin of objective reality

3. Origin of subjective reality

4. Convergence of social order and personal identity

Perfect order?

The human being is indefinite. It comes into the world with almost no innate behavioral patterns and instincts[1] - and yet it obviously does not grow in a chaotic, unregulated manner, but in one stable Society on. Since this society in turn is a "human product"[2] is, the question arises as to how their order can be created in everyday life and how it is preserved. It can be seen that the “social order” has to be viewed on two levels: On the one hand, from a social point of view, since it already exists when a person is born - it already is objective reality. On the other hand, from the point of view of the individual who understands the given order as his own, subjective reality absorbs. But how is objective reality produced? And how does it become subjective? How is the correspondence between these two realities - which is necessary for a social order of everyday life - guaranteed? Or more specifically, how does a convergence of social order and personal identity come about[3] ?

The aim of the following remarks is to get to the bottom of these questions from the perspective of the phenomenological research approach of Alfred Schütz, Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann. First, the nature of the everyday world and the importance of language, social knowledge and interaction for their order will be outlined (Chapter 1), before those processes are described which lead to the formation of objective (Chapter 2) or subjective reality ( Chapter 3). Finally, the question of how personal identity and social order can be reconciled (Chapter 4) is examined.

1. The essence of the everyday world

The everyday world I live in - which each of us lives in - is ubiquitous and inescapable[4][5]. Only when I am dead can I escape its reality - and even then it will continue to exist, regardless of my existence. Because of its factuality alone, it appears to me to be compelling (I. got to to live in this one world). The spatial and temporal structuring of the everyday world also puts pressure on me: For example, if I want to meet friends for a beer in the evening, then I have to be at the bus stop at a certain time. I won't be able to enjoy the barley juice if I wait for the bus in my bathtub or if I arrive at the bus stop five minutes late. Should I actually miss the bus and move my friends because of it, they will react angrily and sometimes wonder whether they will invite me to their meeting next time. This means that the imperative character of the everyday world is also reinforced by a social component (see Chapter 2). At the same time, the everyday world is a matter of course for me. I know how to find my way around in it: I can interpret the growling of my stomach as hunger and I know that it can be satisfied with a sandwich that I can buy at the butcher around the corner. I could also have a pizza delivered to me. Be that as it may: I have the necessary recipe knowledge[6] - without having to think about it for long: I know how to use a phone and I also know that I have to order the pizza from the pizza service and not from the dentist. I can find my way around this world without any problems, because my knowledge gives me instructions for use[7] for daily life. However, only a small part of my knowledge comes from my independently acquired and sedimented experiences.[8] I get the much larger part from the societal stock of knowledge - this happens through processes of interaction in the course of socialization (see Chapter 4). The social stock of knowledge provides me with "typifications for all types of events and experiences"[9], by means of which I can make my everyday world and the people living in it accessible: It not only enables me to recognize and use the everyday things in life (knife, light switch, ticket machine, etc.) correctly, but also also enables me to determine the social position of individuals (including myself) and to behave towards them in an appropriate manner.[10] (I recognize a policeman and know that I shouldn't call him a "stupid cop".)

That means: the stock of knowledge serves me as a point of reference when defining, interpreting and constructing the everyday world[11] - and not just me, but everyone else too. Because social knowledge is - like the lifeworld from which it originates - intersubjective. It's what everyone knows[12]. The “common knowledge” is objectified, transported and conveyed in processes of interaction through language.[13] If the mother tells her child not to put it on the hot stove top because “it hurts”, then the child cannot empathize with the mother's pain when she first came into contact with a hot stove top. The mother, however, has saved the past experience of pain and the possibility of avoiding it in language and can now do it - devoid of any feeling[14] - pass it on to your child. It knows now what she knows. They share the knowledge of the pain - just as they share the room in which the hearth is located.

Although the example just given can illustrate the transfer of knowledge in a very understandable way, its content does not represent what Schütz, Berger and Luckmann are interested in. Knowing how to deal with the right thing is certain Objects the everyday world worth striving for. But it is not the job of phenomenology to explain to me why I can use a can opener. Her primary concern is the entirety of the Subjects the everyday world - more precisely: to explain the order of society. Why - to put it radically - don't people attack each other like wolves in the Hobbesian sense? How did you succeed in creating a stable social order and establishing binding values, norms and behavioral patterns?


[1] see Korte (2002), p. 46

[2] Berger (1966/1970), p. 65

[3] "The subjective appropriation of one's own identity and the subjective appropriation of the social world are just different aspects of the same internalization process (...)." Berger (1966/1970), p. 143

[4] Unless otherwise stated: see Berger (1966/1970), p. 24 ff

[5] see Münch (2003), p. 205

[6] see Berger (1966/1970), p. 44

[7] see Schütz (1979), p. 37

[8] see Schütz (1979), p. 381

[9] Berger (1966/1970), p. 45

[10] see Berger (1966/1970), p. 43

[11] see Münch (2003), pp. 203f.

[12] see Berger (1966/1970), p. 45

[13] see Berger (1966/1970), p. 39 f.

[14] The mother is certainly worried about her child, but she cannot pass on the pain she has experienced to the child. The child, on the other hand, cannot really feel the pain until they come into contact with the stove. But since he knows from a previous fall, for example, that pain is something unpleasant and "hurts", he will combine his own experience with the mother's warning and ideally not expose his fingers to the hot stove.

End of the reading sample from 12 pages