Body, Expression and Sociality

Anna Orlikowski

The world of everyday life is based on an intersubjectively constituted cultural world, wherein the interpretation of meaning produces a context of sense in order to enable eff ective action. Th e radical emphasis on the subjective, inter-subjective and structural dimensions refers to structures of relevance or preference (Alfred Schütz) that determines every realm of social knowledge and practice. In this context of sociality, the implicit bodily experience shapes all embodiment perspectives and all forms of intersubjective social actions to an equal extent. But (exactly) what role does the facticity of mere existence play in such an increasingly complex “lifeworld” (Lebenswelt)? What kind of individual spaces of experience and action can arise in the context of daily techniques, body relationships, work processes and lifeworld? Th e phenomenological refl ection on one’s own perspectives of experience and perception as well as the problematization of the constitution of the other imply the area of the social experiences, which as “living fi eld of expression” sets up identity. This institution of identity takes place “between me as an expression and the other as an expression”, as Merleau-Ponty says.  The underlying mechanisms of social interaction emerge by the systematic inclusion of the concrete corporeal perspective that enables a descriptive access to subjectivity in phenomenological discourses. Th ey refer to diverse textures and diff erent life forms, which concern communication, specifi c procedures, thinking and perception patterns, amongst others. Th e question about the constitution of the subjective order and orientation in a complex lifeworld provides the guideline of this paper. We will refer to the “phenomenology of embodiment” by Merleau-Ponty and Waldenfels and also to the “phenomenological sociology” by Schütz. The first part deals with Merleau-Ponty’s problem of generalization based on the bodily perspective. Aft erward, the focus is set on the intersubjective foundation of sense in terms of sociality and identity. The last part will deal with the subjective constitution of references in the context of Alfred Schütz’s Phenomenological Sociology.


Keywords: bodily incarnated subject · intersubjective relations · social experience · phenomenology of body · embodiment

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