Special section in memory of George Psathas

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Special section in memory of George Psathas Martin Endreß1 Published online: 15 September 2020 © Springer Nature B.V. 2020

Introduction Nearly two years have passed since George Psathas died on November 15th, 2018, at the age of 89. Born on February 22nd, 1929 in New Haven, Connecticut, he taught since 1968 as Professor for Sociology at Boston University, where he continued his academic engagement as Emeritus following his retirement in 1997. It was George Psathas, who drew the attention of American social scientists to the theoretical pro‑ file and the methodological implications of what became known as “Phenomeno‑ logical Sociology”: the encounter of the European tradition of Phenomenology with the empirical endeavors of American Ethnomethodology. He chose neither one path, nor the other, but placed himself at the crossroad between Alfred Schütz’s way of thinking about social reality and Harold Garfinkel’s methodology of daily life. Thus, he did not confine himself to simply pointing at certain similarities between these directions of sociological research. He consistently tried to develop and point at the similarities as well as differences between them. It is these conceptual intuitions and ongoing research interests, that justify the continued influence and lasting impact of George Psathas’ work. In order to honor George Psathas, Jochen Dreher and Eric Garrett organized a round table in recognition of his work and his achievements at the annual confer‑ ence of the Society for Phenomenology and Human Sciences (SPHS) in Pittsburgh in 2019. The following contributions are the revised versions of some of the papers presented at this event. Unfortunately, the organizers themselves were unable to par‑ ticipate in this special session, and Steven Crowell’s article cannot be printed here. Nevertheless, the contributions by Hisashi Nasu, Lenore Langsdorf, Michael Barber, Carlos Belvedere, and Martin Endreß offer an account of the topics and people who have accompanied George’s work for many years in very different ways and draw a vivid picture of George’s academic life and research interests from these experiences with dense descriptions. Hisahi Nasu (Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Director of the Alfred Schutz Archive at Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan) draws on George Psathas’ first contacts * Martin Endreß [email protected]‑trier.de 1

University of Trier, Trier, Germany



320 M. Endreß

with and influence on Phenomenology in Japan. Against this background, Nasu argues for an understanding of George Psathas’ idea of “Phenomenological Sociol‑ ogy” as a “movement,” i.e., not simply reducing it to its academic profile, but also considering the friendly connections between its representatives. Lenore Langsdorf (Emerita Professor at the Department of Communication Stud‑ ies at the Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, United States) focuses on the “turning points” in the relationship between Philosophy (especially Phenomenol‑ ogy) and Sociology (especially Ethnomethodology) in the work of Geor