social construction of reality

social construction of reality

a formulation employed within some areas of sociology to emphasize the way in which social institutions and social life generally is socially produced rather than naturally given or determined.

At one level the claim is almost trivial, since our knowledge about ourselves, and about the social as well as the natural world, is mediated by CULTURE, and so is necessarily 'social’ in origin. A specific emphasis on the social construction of reality is often made, however, to offset Durkheimian (see DURKHEIM) notions of society as a pregiven reality, consisting of constraining social facts (see SOCIAL FACTS AS THINGS) to which individuals are subject. The 'social constructionist’view, originating with THOMAS and members of the CHICAGO SCHOOL, was to emphasize instead the way in which the social world was continually reinvented (produced) by individuals, rather than as something which simply confronted them.

In reality, any simple DUALISM of individual selves (see SELF) and society is unsustainable. Society cannot exist without acting selves; in turn, the self is a product of society (see MEAD, COOLEY, STRUCTURE AND AGENCY, STRUCTURATION THEORY). Berger and Luckmann's The Social Construction of Reality (1697) – the text which first systematically introduced the concept of'social construction’ into sociology – is an early exploration of these themes. Since then the conception of 'social construction’ has become much more widespread, e.g. in the study of DEVIANCE, especially LABELLING THEORY.

Some of the most wide-ranging debates and developments in terms of a social constructionist perspective have come when issues of ONTOLOGY are raised. This is especially the case where social reality might appear determined by the nature of physical realities such as bodies, diseases, or the natural world. Challenges to such assumptions have been forthcoming from theorists such as FOUCAULT for whom the BODY itself is seen as a product of particular discursive practices rather than biology (see SOCIOLOGY OF THE BODY); diseases can be reconceptualized as shifting modes of social response rather than an organic disruption (White, 1991; Bury, 1986; Nicolson and McLaughlin, 1987); and scientific knowledge can be analysed as the result of negotiations about the meaning of phenomena (see SOCIOLOGY OF SCIENCE) in which the rules about theoretical consistency, experimental adequacy and dissemination of information are flexibly interpreted according to a varying agenda of interests (see Mulkay, 1979).

References in periodicals archive ?
They consider specific aspects of the financialized society, the phenomenon of debt, and the experience of indebtedness from the perspective of social relations or the social construction of reality, moving beyond economic and financial understanding.
The core basis of socialism is not the redistribution of wealth, it is the notion that "society" defines reality, "the social construction of reality." That is why the Cuban government recently arrested parents who dared to home-school their children.
Many of the better known communication theories, for example, have their roots in news research, be it agenda setting, framing, priming, or social construction of reality. In election coverage, news can be a king maker in the sense that candidates who do not receive news attention invariably fail!
To accomplish that, it unravels how social actors, partial to their values, participate in the social construction of reality. Thereafter, what we see and how it is understood leads to the emergence of diverging ideological trajectories and, eventually, to social contestation as a result of competing claims.
Media images and the social construction of reality. Annual Review of Sociology, 18, 373-393.
Conceiving of the body as the center of analysis, a catalyst for social action, and as conduit for the social construction of reality, the author (an assistant professor of Africana Studies at the University of Pittsburgh) focuses on specific flash points in the last ninety years of Congo's troubled history, when embodied performance was used to stake political claims, foster dissent, and enforce power.
In sociology, Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann had published The Social Construction of Reality in 1966.
We meet in the book a number of figures, such as Herman Matroos, James Read and Sir Andries Stockenstrom, who defy easy categorization, and they reveal the intricate patterns involved in the social construction of reality. Such considerations are, however, secondary in recommending this book: it is a masterpiece and a good read.
The second essay takes us back to the early nineteenth century and, like Behrisch Elce's essay, is a cultural studies topic that deals with the social construction of reality. Daniel Mangiavellano's "De Quincey, Coleridge, and the Literary Model of Habit" shows how De Quincey's writings helped to construct later views of opium addiction or "habit," and how such published views in turn affected the relative public perceptions of De Quincey and Coleridge's use of opium.
They focus on themes of media-distrust and the social construction of reality, positive and negative ad-campaigns, the fragmenting of the media system, political framing, coverage of elections and other political processes in an age of new media, and more.
The idea of social construction of reality is based, finally, on the recognition of an adaptive character of my subjective interpretations of the world which I am compelled to coordinate with interpretations of other people reaching conventions in the field of inter-subjectivity.
The watershed text that is typically held up as the work that gave SC it's start and name is The Social Construction of Reality by Peter Berger and Thomas Luckman, first published in 1966.