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taken-for-granted world

  Usually a synonym for lifeworld, the term gained currency in human geography through an influential essay by Ley (1977), in which he argued for a recognition of the importance of ordinary, everyday, \'mundane experience\' and hence for the incorporation into humanistic geography of the intersubjective meanings and intentions that gave shape and direction to \'the contours of the lifeworld\'. Ley claimed that the appropriate methodology could be derived from (constitutive) phenomenology — thus \'the phenomenological method provides a logic for understanding the lifeworld\' — and in this he followed, among others, Schutz and Merleau-Ponty. A common criticism of their work has been that it pays insufficient attention to the constellations of power that are involved in the production and reproduction of social life, and in order to meet these objections Warf (1986) extended Ley\'s ideas in the direction of structuration theory. But the taken-for-granted assumed a deeper significance in Husserl\'s transcendental phenomenology, and his writings were used by Pickles (1985) to clarify \'the pre-theoretical character of the lifeworld and its pre-givenness in relation to all the sciences\', i.e. its foundational role (see epistemology). Pickles saw this as an important corrective to those who would limit so-called \'geographical phenomenology\' to \'a capturing of the everyday lifeworld as it is lived\'.

Elucidation of the taken-for-granted world is not the unique preserve of phenomenology, however, and the French philosopher Henri Lefebvre provided an important discussion of what he called everyday life which intersects with both of these traditions. He treats the taken-for-grantedness of everyday life in the modern world as a product of its \'colonization\' by the abstract space of capitalism (see ideology; production of space); but he also sees the everyday as the site of resistance, as the source of an authentic (and in this sense \'foundational\') mundanity that has remained untouched by the corrosions of capitalist modernity (Lefebvre, 1991). A different politico-intellectual reading of the taken-for-granted world and its spatiality was provided by another French philosopher, Michel de Certeau (1984), who sought to elucidate the everyday social practices — the myriad informal tactics — through which ordinary people are able to resist the encroachments and strategies of formal, institutionalized apparatuses of power. Neither of these contributions is phenomenological, but they join Ley in accentuating the creativity (rather than passivity) that inheres within everyday life and the supposedly taken-for-granted world, and in this way the concept is given a distinctly subversive cast. (DG)

References de Certeau, M. 1984: The practice of everyday life. Berkeley: University of California Press. Lefebvre, H. 1991: Critique of everyday life. London: Verso. Ley, D. 1977: Social geography and the taken-for-granted world. Transactions, Institute of British Geographers NS 2: 498-5 12. Pickles, J. 1985: Phenomenology, science and geography: spatiality and the human sciences. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Warf, B. 1986: Ideology, everyday life and emancipatory phenomenology. Antipode 18: 268-83.

Suggested Reading de Certeau (1984). Ley (1977). Pickles (1985), 114-2 0.



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