Monday, September 27, 2010

Re: The Social Construction of Reality

Disobeying Kierkegaard's dictum that one does well to shy away from public debate, here are some responses to despondents:
1. Causes of death are cultural constructs.
They change. Hence not set in stone.
2. We don't know why we die.
Any legal cause remains unable to give reasons for death.
3. As autism are taught so is our ability to recognize deadly diagnises.
The condition X may or may not have existed before anyone was able to label it. But does it matter?
4. The critters you refer to a dinasaurs only became such at the moment of classification.
To postulate an experiencing subjet prior to the categorization of dinosaurs classifying them as such is anachronistic.


"The work introduced the term social construction into the social sciences
and was strongly influenced by the work of Alfred Schutz. The central
concept of The Social Construction of Reality is that persons and groups
interacting together in a social system form, over time, concepts or mental
representations of each other's actions, and that these concepts

become habituated into reciprocal roles played by the actors in relation to
other. When these roles are made available to other members of society to
enter into and play out, the reciprocal interactions are said to be
institutionalised. In the process of this institutionalisation, meaning is
embedded in society. Knowledge and people's conception (and belief) of what
reality is becomes embedded in the institutional fabric of society. Social
reality is therefore said to be socially constructed."

A sample:

"Society as Subjective Reality
Socialization is a two-step induction of the individual to participate in
the social institutional structure (in its objective reality).

"The individual… is not born a member of society. He… becomes a member of
society. In the life of every individual… there is a temporal sequence, in
the course of which he is inducted into participation in the social
dialectic" (p. 129) "By 'successful socialization' we mean the establishment
of a
high degree of symmetry between objective and subjective reality" (p. 163)

=> Primary Socialization takes place as a child. It is highly charged
emotionally and is not questioned. Secondary Socialization includes the
acquisition of role-specific knowledge (taking one's place in the social
of labor). It is learned through training and specific rituals, and is not
emotionally charged ("it is necessary to love one's mother, but not one's
teacher"). Training for secondary socialization can be very complex
(full-time teachers and expert training), and depends on the complexity of
of labor in a society (e.g. educational and university system). Primary
socialization is much less flexible than secondary socialization (e.g. shame
for nudity comes from primary socialization, adequate dress code depends on
secondary: "A relatively minor shift in the subjective definition of
reality would suffice for an individual to take for granted that one may go to
the office without a tie. A much more drastic shift would be necessary to
have him go, as a matter of course, without any clothes at all").

"The child does not internalize the world of his significant others as one
of many possible worlds… It is for this reason that the world internalized
in primary socialization is so much more firmly entrenched in consciousness
than worlds internalized in secondary socializations…. Secondary
socialization is the internalization of institutional or institution-based
'… The roles of secondary socialization carry a high degree of anonymity…
The same knowledge taught by one teacher could also be taught by another…
The institutional distribution of tasks between primary and secondary
socialization varies with the complexity of the social distribution of
(p. 129-147)

=> Conversation/communication aims at reality-maintenance of the
subjective reality. What seems to be a useless and unnecessary communication of

redundant banalities is actually a constant mutual reconfirmation of each
s internal thoughts (maintains subjective reality).

"One may view the individual's everyday life in terms of the working away
of a conversational apparatus that ongoingly maintains, modifies and
reconstructs his subjective reality… [for example] 'Well, it's time for me to
get to the station,' and 'Fine, darling, have a good day at the office'
implies an entire world within which these apparently simple propositions make
sense… the exchange confirms the subjective reality of this world… the
great part, if not all, of everyday conversation maintains subjective reality…
imagine the effect…of an exchange like this: 'Well, it's time for me to
get to the station,' 'Fine, darling, don't forget to take along your gun.'
(p. 147-163)

Identity of an individual is subject to a struggle of affiliation to
(sometimes conflicting) realities. For example, the reality from primary
socialization (mother tells child not to steal) can be in contrast with second
socialization (gang members teach teenager that stealing is cool). Our final
social location in the institutional structure of society will ultimately
also influence our body and organism.

"…life-expectancies of lower-class and upper-class [vary] …society
determines how long and in what manner the individual organism shall live…
Society also directly penetrates the organism in its functioning, most
importantly in respect to sexuality and nutrition. While both sexuality and
are grounded in biological drives… biological constitution does not tell
him where he should seek sexual release and what he should eat." (p.

See also
social constructionism
Phronetic social science

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