Monday, December 7, 2020

Summary: social construction of reality by berger and luckmann

Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann: Social Construction of Reality

Introduction: According to Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann, the problem with the sociology of knowledge - the main argument in this book is that reality is socially shaped, and the sociology of knowledge should analyze the process by which reality is shaped.

The keywords in Berger and Luckmann’s text are: reality and knowledge:

Reality - will be defined as a phenomenon that we know and is independent, that is, does not depend on the existence of a particular individual.

Knowledge - the certainty that a phenomenon is real, and that it represents certain characteristics.

The sociologist must ask how a situation is created in which one person (the person on the street) takes reality for granted, while another person (the philosopher) casts doubt on almost everything. How reality is preserved in one society, and disappears in another society.

In addition to dealing with different knowledge in different societies, sociology has to deal with the formation of knowledge in the first place, which later became a reality. The sociology of knowledge concerns the analysis of the social structures of reality. There is general agreement that the sociology of knowledge has focused the sociological perspective on a more general problem of existentialist determinism (there is a reason for everything). From the time of Marx the sociology of knowledge, that man's consciousness is determined by his social existence.


Ideas - serve as a bridge to social affairs.


False consciousness - thoughts that are alienated from the social reality of the thinker.


According to Karl Mannheim, there was an understanding that no human thought is immune to the influence of the context of the ideology of its culture. The most important American sociologist in the field of sociology of knowledge is Robert Merton. He established a paradigm for the sociology of knowledge. This paradigm is interested in merging the sociological approach to knowledge and the constructive-functional theory approach. Talcott Parsons also dealt with the subject of the sociology of knowledge. But of the three (Merton, Parsons, and Mannheim) only Mannheim performed beyond the sociology of knowledge. Knowledge of common sense and not ideas must be the focus of interest for the sociologists of knowledge. This is because without this kind of knowledge a society would not have been able to exist.


Establishing knowledge in everyday life

Reality in everyday life - Everyday life presents itself as an interpretive reality of a person, meaningful to that person as part of a coherent (cohesive, logical) world. As sociologists we take this reality as the object of our inquiry. This world was created in their thought and actions and therefore it remains real. 

The phenomenological approach takes for granted various actions in everyday life, and it takes pre-scientific and quasi-scientific interpretations for granted. Man moves between different realities and thus he experiences the world as a kind of market state.

The reality of everyday life is shaped around the here of my body and the now of my presence. My consciousness is governed by what I have done, do, or plan to do. The difference between everyday life and other realities, is that I share my daily life with other people.


Social interaction in daily life

The most important experience is in face-to-face situations, this is the classic situation of social interaction, and all other interactions result from it. In a face-to-face situation, the other is very close and real.


Language and knowledge in everyday life

The human expression is capable of expressing objectification, this is possible for both the producer of the expression and the other person, as elements in our world. This is a measure of subjectivity, and so they expand beyond the face-to-face encounter situation in which they are slightly restrained (human expressions). 

An example of an objective system is the system of symbols, for example signs, that exists beyond the here and now. And this system is the most important system in human society.

Language has its roots in a face-to-face encounter, but it can expand to other situations. As a system of signs, language has objectivity. Language forces its patterns on me. Through language the world can be made a reality at any given moment. There is also a process of becoming a seller here - a simplification of the everyday parts that need to be dealt with on a regular basis.

We take the world for granted, say Berger and Luckmann, until a problem arises that makes us doubt this perception. As long as no problem arises there is no reason to question the obviousness of our world. Our perception system of the world is understood in terms of relevance. Sometimes the system intersects with other people's relevance system, thus creating 'interesting' topics of conversation.

see also summary of Peter Berger's Invitation to Sociology