The Life-World and Its Multiple Realities: Alfred Schütz’s Contribution to the Understanding of the Experience of Illness


Alfred Schütz original contribution to the social sciences refers to his analysis of the structure of the “life-world”. This article aims to invigorate interest in the work of this author, little known in the field of health psychology. Key concepts of Schütz’ approach will be presented in relation to their potential interest to the understanding of the experience of illness. In particular, we develop the main characteristics of the everyday life and its cognitive style, that is, its finite province of meaning. We propose to adopt this notion to define the experience of chronic or serious illness when the individual is confronted to the medical world. By articulating this analysis with literature in health psychology, we argue that Schütz’s perspective brings useful insight to the field, namely because of its ability to study meaning constructions by overcoming the trap of solipsism by embracing intersubjectivity. The article concludes by outlining both, the limitations and research perspectives brought by this phenomenological analysis of the experiences of health and illness.

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Santiago-Delefosse, M. and Carral, M. (2015) The Life-World and Its Multiple Realities: Alfred Schütz’s Contribution to the Understanding of the Experience of Illness. Psychology, 6, 1265-1276. doi: 10.4236/psych.2015.610124.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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