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The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of… (1966)
by Peter L. Berger, Thomas Luckmann
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One of the deepest books I've ever read, but it's not without it's humorous moments (the examples Berger gives to illustrate his points are sometimes hilarious). This is incredibly meta and multi-layered. A must-read for anyone into world building. ( )
I have had this book for many years - I don't even remember when or where I found it. It sounded interesting, but I had so many other books to read that it stayed on a shelf until I began thinking seriously about studying sociology. When I took it down to read it, I was surprised by the humor woven through its pages...
When I first read this book six years ago I thought it was really insightful. Reading it now for a second time wasn't quite as exciting. The book begins with very good chapters on knowledge in everyday life and society as objective reality. The authors analyze things very clearly. On the second reading much of what they said struck me as obviously right, but not very interesting or fruitful for further research. If you've never thought about everyday knowledge or social construction before, then this book is very educational. But once you get your head around the basic ideas, there isn't much more depth to illuminate with these theories.
Even so, this still is one of the best books in social theory that I've read. I particularly like the fact that the authors don't appeal to preceding authorities like Durkheim, Weber or Marx every time their theory touches on a classical question. As a result the book is very readable and the theory can be judged on its own terms. I recommend this book especially to people who don't know what social construction means. You will certainly understand society in a different way after reading it.
This is quite an interesting book. Its main thesis is an attempt to tie together epistemology and sociology. TO SUMMARIZE: Thought is a social construct. Our ways of thinking are influenced by our ancestors and traditions. There's also Wittgenstein's baby - how language affects thought.
Of course, after watching both political conventions over the past two weeks, it is necessary to discuss the political role of this idea. One could see it being discussed by reformers/radicals, who want to change society and assist oppressed peoples by changing the long-held societal misconceptions which lead to their oppression. Another possibility involves a certain long-gone form of conservatism, which remarks on the fragility of society, and that any reform attempts must be undertaken with great care. This conservatism, of course, is not the naked imperial greed which calls itself 'conservative' today.
One example of social constructs is race. Compare America and Western Europe. In the former, 'white people' are a monolithic bloc, in the latter, there are still hazy distinctions drawn up between North and South European, Germanic and Slav. I know the feeling of race directly - I have been mistaken, at various times in my life, for being Russian, Mexican, and half-Chinese or half-Vietnamese. My mother is also mistaken for Chinese, despite being Filipino. Other possibilities about social construction include sexuality, political beliefs, professions, and others.
Such an idea has its charms, but also its detractors. I wonder how a biological approach to ideas, such as neuroscience or evolutionary psychology (as flawed as the latter is) might make an approach to such similar topics. For a book on sociology, it does raise the question of if we can truly attempt to understand the point of view of a person who's lived in a completely different society than we have.
A wonderfully compelling, lucid, and witty sociological theory work. This book deals with two main connected topics: how we construct our reality (and hence our knowledge) in society, and how our reality constructs our identities. However, laid out like this, these topics seem perhaps too academic or too abstract. It may be better to say simply that Berger and Luckmann wrote a brilliant account of the essence of our lives.
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Wikipedia in English (4)
Called the "fifth-most important sociological book of the 20th century" by the International Sociological Association, this groundbreaking study of knowledge introduces the concept of "social construction" into the social sciences for the first time. In it, Berger and Luckmann reformulate the task of the sociological subdiscipline that, since Max Scheler, has been known as the sociology of knowledge.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)306.42 — Social sciences Social Sciences Culture and Institutions Specific aspects of culture Sociology of knowledge
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