Social Inequality Reconsidered in the Interface of Phenomenology and Sociology of Knowledge
Sociology University of Konstanz Konstanz, Germany
Starting from Max Weber's "methodological individualism", the individual actor experiences the social world as a system or power hierarchies with its specific inequality stratifications that are incorporated within the social stock of knowledge of the corresponding social entity. The proposed analysis at the interface of phenomenology and the sociology of knowledge reconstructs typification procedures and systems of relevance that are effective within the constitution of inequality in which the individual actor is involved. Following the theoretical conceptions of Edmund Husserl, Alfred Schutz, Peter L. Berger/Thomas Luckmann and Pierre Bourdieu, I argue, that the constitution of inequality needs to be analyzed with reference to the subjective perspective of the individual actor within relationships of interaction in a specific social world. Furthermore, assuming a phenomenological standpoint studying the epistemological foundations of inequality, it can be demonstrated that consciousness is essential to the social life-world. It is conversely true, that sociality is essential to consciousness since consciousness is immersed in that social world before phenomenological analysis ever illuminates the structures of the life-world. Above all, I will argue that symbolic power relations (Bourdieu) within the dialectical relationship of human existence and society are responsible for the constitution of inequality among human beings. On the basis of the subjectively established capacity of consciousness of symbolization, human beings are able to communicate and objectify everyday transcendent ideas, such as political, religious, scientific, etc. thoughts. This way, social affiliations and power relations are established in the process of symbolization thus constituting inequality.