A theory of intersubjectivity: experience, interaction and the anchoring of meaning

Iddo Tavory

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Based on the work of Alfred Schutz, this article develops a theory of intersubjectivity—one of the basic building blocks of social experience—and shows how such a theory can be empirically leveraged in sociological work. Complementing the interactionist and ethnomethodological emphasis on the situated production of intersubjectivity, this paper revisits the basic theoretical assumptions undergirding this theory. Schutz tied intersubjectivity to the way people experience the world of everyday life: a world that he held as distinct from other provinces of meaning, such as religious experience, humor, or scientific reasoning. However, as this article shows, such neat distinctions are problematic for both empirical and theoretical reasons: The cognitive styles that define different provinces of meaning often bleed into one another; people often inhabit multiple provinces of meaning simultaneously. Intersubjectivity may thus be simultaneously anchored in multiple worlds, opening a host of empirical research questions: not only about how intersubjectivity is done in interaction, but about how different kinds of intersubjective experiences are constructed, how multi-layered they are, as well as opening up questions about possible asymmetries in the experiences of intersubjectivity.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)865-884
    Number of pages20
    JournalTheory and Society
    Issue number5
    StatePublished - Sep 2023


    • Culture
    • Interaction
    • Intersubjectivity
    • Phenomenology
    • Schutz

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • History
    • Sociology and Political Science


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