Immediacy and the We-Relationship

November 24th, 2010

Schutz, Alfred. (1967). The Phenomenology of the Social World. Northwestern University Studies in Phenomenology & Existential Philosophy. Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press.

Continuing the discussion of We-relationships from the last post, Schutz states that We-relationships can have many differences based on the way in which a participant is experienced by the other participant(s), such as being experienced with different degrees of immediacy, intensity, and intimacy or from a different point of view.

These distinctions apply equally to orientation relationships and to social interactions, determining in each of them the directness with which the partners “know” each other. …It is not only the object, therefore, that is experienced with greater or lesser directness; it is the relationship itself… (168).

In this way, one can consider the on-screen nature of the OVC as a different way in which one participant experiences the other. It is, by many definitions, a low level of immediacy in that the response rate is not immediate. The intensity, if I understand Schutz’ use of the term here, is relative to the conversation situation (topic, length, purpose, etc.). The intimacy level could be seen as relatively low in that the participants are not in the same room. However, it is in some ways more intimate in that the videos are generally experienced alone, yet there may be a feeling of simulation to some extent of a live interpersonal conversation. Read the rest of this entry »