chapter  3
18 Pages

Phenomenology and Social Theory

Exploring the lifeworld of the service-user
WithChristopher Thorpe

This chapter explicates a range of phenomenological conceptual ideas and methods, applying them to consider the socio-culturally shaped meanings informing the experiences and actions of service-users. The chapter begins by exploring Schutz’s concepts of ‘lifeworld’ and ‘practical consciousness’, both of which are taken up and elaborated in the work of Berger and Luckmann, Bernstein and the existential-phenomenological ideas of Merleau-Ponty. The applied section of the chapter employs these concepts to explore a number of the potential difficulties embedded in the communications between social workers and service-users. The chapter concludes by critically reflecting on the flaws and merits of phenomenologically inspired theoretical concepts and modes of reasoning.