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 Social Construction of Reality (1967) - Thomas Luckmann & Peter Berger

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PostSubject: Social Construction of Reality (1967) - Thomas Luckmann & Peter Berger   Wed 03 Mar 2010, 4:58 pm



The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge

From an Amazon reviewer...

"The sociology of knowledge a la Berger and Luckmann is not about the history of ideas, the economic origin of ideologies, the social process of education, the study of intellectuals, religious Gnostics, or secret societies, or social theories per se. Rather, the intriguing concern of the authors is what they call everyday knowledge or common sense knowledge that is constructed at different levels of society all the way from language, to family history and memories, to children's folk tales, proverbs, and legends, to workplace and professional ideologies, to formal theories and paradigms, and finally to what they call symbolic universes or over-arching world views."

Berger and Luckmann base their work on a set of fundamental propositions:
  1. Man's consciousness is determined by his social being or by his "seat in life."
  2. Knowledge must always be from a certain position or social location.
  3. "What is truth on one side of the Pyrenees (mountains) is error on the other" (Blaise Pascal).
  4. Consider social facts or institutions as things (Emile Durkheim). And
  5. the sociology of knowledge must concern itself with everything that passes for knowledge in society."


Berger and Luckmann proceed from these propositions to discuss society as objective reality and society as subjective reality. They discuss three self-validating "moments" that construct our knowledge of reality (3-steps in the social construction of reality):
  • Externalization: the ongoing outpouring of human being into the world, both in the physical and the mental activity of people
  • Objectivation: attainment by the products of this activity (again both physical and mental) of a reality that confronts its original producers as a
    facticity external to and other than themselves (institutionalization)
  • Internalization: the re-appropriation of humans of this same reality, transforming it once again from structures of the objective world into structures of the subjective consciousness (socialization)


World-Maintenance

Socially constructed worlds are precarious—constantly threatened by human self-interest, stupidity and forgetfulness—and require world-maintenance.

Three key processes in world-maintenance:
  1. Socialization,
  2. Social control,
  3. Legitimation: second-order knowledge that explains and justifies social order; answers “why” questions. May be as simple as proverbs or involve complex bodies of knowledge (e.g., theology, psychology)


The authors maintain that social institutions are perpetually precarious because they are humanly constructed, not biologically given. Human culture, produced by institutions, replaces instincts so well that culture is taken for granted as the same as our physical nature. As Berger and Luckmann put it: "man's relationship to his environment is characterized by world-openness." The authors don't mean that man is plastic, but that he is moldable within unspecific biological constraints.

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PostSubject: Re: Social Construction of Reality (1967) - Thomas Luckmann & Peter Berger   Wed 03 Mar 2010, 5:21 pm

Berger and Luckmann synthesize the views of a wide range of philosophers and social thinkers into an original product. Their approach reminds one of the classic parable of the Blind Men and the Elephant. Each blind man finds that they are touching or experiencing different parts of the body of the elephant and thus are led to think that the elephant is thin like a tail, or flexible like the trunk, or round and solid like its leg, or immovable like its torso. Only with Berger and Luckmann's approach the blind men may find that the elephant is hollow or man-made as in the fictional character of the wizard in the children's story of the Wizard of Oz. To Berger and Luckmann the world is a Hollywood stage front, a Russian Potemkin Village, but not a delusion. The authors explain that the next generation forgets, or is led to believe, that the social world is given when it was produced or manufactured. But it isn't manufactured mechanistically but is dialectically or interactively produced. The social order can be maintained by various techniques including intimidation, propaganda, mystification, or the manipulation of symbols (symbolic action). However, man is not a passive, but a reactionary creature that will not merely swallow social reality whole but will also often try and alter it. As the authors state man produces society, society becomes an objective, coercive, and reified (as in deified) reality, and, in turn, man becomes a social product of his own creation. Man experiences alienation when he forgets he created society or when he is powerless to control what he created.

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PostSubject: Re: Social Construction of Reality (1967) - Thomas Luckmann & Peter Berger   Fri 26 Mar 2010, 11:04 am

Great slides, especially the first few








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PostSubject: Re: Social Construction of Reality (1967) - Thomas Luckmann & Peter Berger   Fri 26 Mar 2010, 12:40 pm

Great stuff, C1.
Comments later, after I've had a chance to read and consider.
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PostSubject: Re: Social Construction of Reality (1967) - Thomas Luckmann & Peter Berger   Sat 26 Mar 2011, 11:26 am

C1,

It occurs to me this work might be very relevant to the discussion of 'open systems' 'closed systems' and Godel's Proof. I remember in reading a portion of it, it touching very strongly on how each individual's basic reality is initially formed. Very fascinating stuff which I think I will read about further in these authors' work.

It certainly shows, though, that *at the beginning*, the possibilities are pretty much infinite with regard to how [that individual's] perception of their social structure will be understood and accepted.

Just thought I'd point out that these topics seems to be related (Godel - and Luckmann,Berger's work). Hope this is clear ...(?) it's hard to verbalize this concept.

Comments welcome. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Social Construction of Reality (1967) - Thomas Luckmann & Peter Berger   Wed 30 Mar 2011, 7:45 pm

Yes, I agree that all of their work is connected.

We are infinite beings, constrained by madd scientists hell-bent on dominating others. The Godel work is such an important expose, because it demonstrates, using their own methods & techniques (ie science), that their techniques are nothing more than simulacrum creation and constraint.

I've been left thinking about one of the later Planet of the Apes movies, where the Apes (who are an analogy for regular people like you and me) start to charge at the forbidden zone, only to be met by walls of fire and the like. All, of course, is merely simulacrum meant to scare the Apes away. But the Apes continue unabated, into the caves where the so-called superior species has been hiding from the monstrous lower-species. In the end, rather than accept their fate at the hands of these Apes, they destroy the entire planet with a nuclear bomb that had hidden in the cave along with them. So, these fuckers were telling us that its their world or no world, which is pretty much the title of the paper they published just after WWII.

Godel showed us their simulacrum is fake, and weak, and that we ought to step outside our fear and live the infinite infinities that our humanity has the capability to live.

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PostSubject: Re: Social Construction of Reality (1967) - Thomas Luckmann & Peter Berger   Fri 01 Apr 2011, 6:13 pm

-snip-
Quote :
I've been left thinking about one of the later Planet of the Apes movies, where the Apes (who are an analogy for regular people like you and me) start to charge at the forbidden zone, only to be met by walls of fire and the like. All, of course, is merely simulacrum meant to scare the Apes away. But the Apes continue unabated, into the caves where the so-called superior species has been hiding from the monstrous lower-species. In the end, rather than accept their fate at the hands of these Apes, they destroy the entire planet with a nuclear bomb that had hidden in the cave along with them. So, these fuckers were telling us that its their world or no world, which is pretty much the title of the paper they published just after WWII.

Godel showed us their simulacrum is fake, and weak, and that we ought to step outside our fear and live the infinite infinities that our humanity has the capability to live.

"Their world or no world"...yup. I think they would rather die themselves than see any of us ever being happy and free.

Hate is their basic mother's milk.

But see, the apes were luckier than we, because they had a way out if they were brave enough: through the (illusory) wall of fire. Where, though, is our (illusory) wall of fire? *Our* nemeses are very real: evil, loathesome sub-human men with nightmarish weapons. Where can we go to be free to live our lives of infinite possibility if they are determined not to let us.go? Or am I wrong, and you think there IS some way to escape them....just show me!
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PostSubject: Re: Social Construction of Reality (1967) - Thomas Luckmann & Peter Berger   Mon 04 Apr 2011, 10:48 pm

Their a very small group, with their power solely vested in the beleif of the simulacrum. Yea, they got the weapons, but if their walls of deceit are broken, then who is going to operate those weapons for them? They can't do it all themselves. Their entire system is based upon deceiving others. Remember, they are deceiving many in the technocracy, who run this machinery, as well. Everyone gets their own unique flavor of deceit in order for the system to succeed. The technocrats are told that the public are beasts and that they, the technocrats, will have a perfect world soon. But the technocrats will be back-stabbed and killed, as has happened in history. They key is convincing each target market that they are receiving their own unique brand of simulacrum, then they will realize who the real enemies are, and all their powers dwindles. It's a house of cards.

Watch the movie Zardoz again. It's on Netflix.

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PostSubject: Re: Social Construction of Reality (1967) - Thomas Luckmann & Peter Berger   Tue 05 Apr 2011, 11:44 pm

Verry interesting, C1!

I haven't watched Zardoz yet but plan on doing so probably tomorrow. Would like to get back to you on this AFTER I watch it, but I do have a few ideas I'd like to discuss.

TTYL, then..
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