Review: Thomas Samuel Eberle (2000). Lebensweltanalyse und Handlungstheorie. Beiträge zur Verstehenden Soziologie [Life-world Analysis and Action Theory. Contributions to Interpretative Sociology]

  • Peter Stegmaier Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf
Keywords: life-world analysis, theories of action, methodology, interpretative sociology, phenomenology, SCHÜTZ, frame analysis, theories of rational choice, ethnomethodology, postmodern theories


Thomas EBERLE performs a series of methodological "tests" of common theoretical tools for the description of everyday social practice on their implicit and/or explicit assumptions concerning understanding in social reality. Theories of (inter-) action which are employed in empirical contexts are selected. Each of them is subject to a deep discussion in a separate chapter of the book—some of them appearing in comparisons in other places repeatedly. The criterion of the "testing" refers to and radicalizes propositions towards sociological interpretation of subjectively meaningful action made by Alfred SCHÜTZ: How much understanding of subjective meaning is achieved by each approach? EBERLE explores whether, and how far, SCHÜTZian life-world analysis can fruitfully serve as an epistemological foundation of sociology and some of its theories of action. This kind of endeavour may be of interest to researchers operating according to interpretative and hermeneutical logics in the abstract sense, being, in principle, aware of the problems in aiming to interprete actions and the interpretations of social actors. Also, EBERLE's plea can be viewed as a contribution to the ongoing FQS debate, Quality of Qualitative Research. It has to be taken into account, nonetheless, that for EBERLE (just as for SCHÜTZ), it is not about a normative postulate of adequacy, a subjectivization of sociology, or about validity within a scientific system of relevance—but about the best possible approximation to the actor's perspective. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0302124


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Author Biography

Peter Stegmaier, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf
Peter STEGMAIER ist Wissenschaftlicher Angestellter in dem von der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft geförderten Projekt "Recht als soziale Praxis", geleitet von Prof. Dr. Martin MORLOK. Seine Arbeitsschwerpunkte liegen derzeit bei der Rechts- und Wissenssoziologie sowie ethnographischen und hermeneutischen Methoden.