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The social construction of reality


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Just a ppt I use in the first week of class

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The social construction of reality

  1. 1. The concept and discussion iscredited to Thomas Luckman and Peter Berger
  2. 2. The notion of the social construction of reality is not to say that things in our social world are not real. They are. But they are constructions—social constructions that we often take for granted. We have built them from our imaginations.
  3. 3. This is particularly applicable to social institutions.Marriage, education, the economy come to mind.Think of some more social constructions.
  4. 4.  Religion The Polity Gender (as opposed to sex) Race (as non-biological)
  5. 5. The social construction of reality is part and parcel to the process of socialization itself.It is in our socialization process that we learn what to consider real, important, valuable and necessary.
  6. 6. Two concepts: Primary Socialization AndSecondary Socialization
  7. 7. The first socialization that is undergone in childhood through which he becomes a member of society.This is the most important form of socialization.
  8. 8. Any subsequent process that inducts an already socialized individual into new sectors of the objective world of his society.This process is most critical in cases like the Stanford Prison Experiment (SPE) .
  9. 9. Every individual is born into an objective social structure within which he encounters the significant others who are in charge of his socialization.
  10. 10. Consider Berger and Luckman’s discussion of the child born into a lower class level of the social strata.Not only is the child poor materially but he or she comes to internalize this as the norm.
  11. 11. Primary Socialization included much more than purely cognitive learning.Thus consider the internalization process.The child identifies with the significant other in a variety of emotional ways. Internalization occurs only as identification occurs.
  12. 12. As the child internalizes the world of his significant others, s/he becomes capable of self identification, of acquiring a subjectively coherent and plausible identity.
  13. 13. This is done with the help of what arecalled “Agents of Socialization.”Such agents could be members of thefamily, school teachers, mentors, peers,and even the mass media.
  14. 14. Assimilation of the social world occurs as the child’s consciousness grows. Consider the example of “Mummy is angry with me now,” and “Mummy is angry with me when I spill the soup.”Eventually the child discovers that all significant others are angry with the soup is spilt.
  15. 15. According to Berger and Luckman, this means that “the individual now identifies not only with concrete others but with a generality of others, that is, with a society.”Only with this generalized identity does does his own self-identification attain stability and continuity.
  16. 16. Finally comes the time with the child understands that everybody is against soup spilling, and the norm is generalized to “one does not spill soup.”The is the precursor to Mead’s notion of “The Generalized Other”
  17. 17. • This all entails a dialectic between identification by others and self-identification, between objectively assigned and subjectively appropriated identity. External and internal realities.
  18. 18. Additionally, the child is not only taking on the roles and attitudes of others, but in the same process takes on their world.“All identifications take place within horizons that imply a specific social world.”
  19. 19. This formation of the generalized other marks a decisive phase in socialization:It implies the internalization of society as such and of objective reality while at the same time subjective establishment of a coherent and continuous identity.
  20. 20. “Society, identity, and reality are subjectively crystallized in the same process of internalization.”
  21. 21. “When the generalized other has been crystallized in consciousness, a symmetrical relationship is established between objective and subjective reality. What is real ‘outside’ corresponds to what is real ‘within.’”
  22. 22. This is what gives permanence to the impermanent. Consider the dollar bill. What is it?
  23. 23. Consider that most of us don’t even use money any more.Get the debit or credit card out.Now what is that?
  24. 24. Indeed, where is the money?It only exists because we say it does. Maybe it is in the Matrix.