>

Fieldwork: Experience and Misunderstandings—A Perspective from Phenomenological Sociology

China Social Science Review

No.3, 2020

 

Fieldwork: Experience and Misunderstandings—A Perspective from Phenomenological Sociology

(Abstract)

 

Yang Shanhua

 

Fieldwork is a research tool commonly used in anthropology and sociology today. From a cognitive perspective, sociological fieldwork, which uses in-depth interviews and observations as its main research methods, still needs to be clarified on some points, both in terms of its conceptual connotations and its practical operation. We usually attribute to the social actions of Max Weber’s “social actor” a subjective meaning, one that we can understand and can explain as a methodological approach to fieldwork. “Meaning” and “exploration of meaning” thus play a vital role in sociological fieldwork as the research method of phenomenological sociology. From a cognitive perspective, therefore, sociological fieldwork inherits the tradition of phenomenology and phenomenological sociology developed by Husserl and Schutz. Schutz’s Lebenswelt can be seen as the “world of meaning;” it is charged with understanding and interpreting meaning in the sense of Dasein. It differs from the ethnographic method of anthropology because sociological fieldwork focuses on the whole society. Even in the field, it emphasizes that a vision of society as a whole is needed to investigate phenomena.