Sociology Index E-Books

SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF REALITY

The phrase social construction of reality was used in 1966 by Peter Berger and T. Luckmann. Social construction of reality is an aspect of many micro-interpretive perspectives in sociology and must be understood as a contrast to positivistic sociology (Positivism) and structural sociology (Structuralism).

Rejecting the notion that events or social phenomena have an independent and objective existence, they examine the methods that members of society use to create or socially construct reality.

Durkheim, for example was a positivist and a structuralist and argued that suicide had an objective existence, independent of himself and others. That is, there was something about the way of death that constituted something as a suicide.

An advocate of the social construction of reality perspective would argue that suicide is just a label for a death and is constituted, or created, by the accounts that people like police, family, or coroners give of the death. Our accounting methods then construct reality rather than there being some independent reality which we can describe or explain.

Like cultural construction of reality, social construction of reality is an aspect of interpretive perspectives (Interpretive Theory) in sociology.

Making Societies : The Historical Construction of Our World Book by William G. Roy
The only book written for undergraduates about the social construction of reality that is also historical and comparative. In addition, it includes chapters on the social construction of time and space, as well as the more traditional chapters on race, class, social class, gender and gender roles. The organizing concept of the social construction of reality and using a cross-cultural historical comparative approach to analyzing key themes: space, time, race, gender, and class with focus on space and time because it illustrates how deeply embedded the social construction of reality is.

Public Relations in the Social Construction of Reality: Theoretical and Practical Implications of Berger and Luckmann's View of the Social Construction of Reality. - White, Jon 
As P. L. Berger and T. Luckmann argue, what the public regards as social reality is a construction to which each member contributes by selecting from all available information to develop a picture of the world. To do so, people negotiate with other people regarding the meaning of the information provided. Public relations practitioners construct the meaning of the environment for organizations, and represent the organizations to the outside world, presenting social constructions of reality to both sides which are then negotiated for. From this standpoint, criticisms of public relations practitioners' subjective definition of truth and their manipulation of facts are undercut by the recognition that all reality is socially constructed. Conversely, the practice of upsetting ordinary reality constructions and representing information in ways calculated to effect reality perception and behavior raises ethical questions. Individuals in public relations must be adequately prepared for issues of what constitutes honesty in communication when social reality is a construction arrived at through negotiation.

Teaching Social Construction of Reality in the Basic Course: Opening Minds and Integrating Units. - Dixson, Marcia D. 
Abstract: This paper, after a brief review of social construction theory and its application to identity, emotions, and relationships, explores the introduction of social construction of reality into the basic communication course. It offers the broad based theoretical perspective as a way to open the minds of entering college students and to integrate the sometimes disparate units of the basic course. The paper discusses the uses of social construction of reality as a foundation for teaching students about communication processes.

MEDIA AND THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF REALITY - Toward an Integration of Theory and Research, HANNA ADONI, SHERRILL MANE, Hebrew University of Jerusalem 
A theoretical framework common to studies of the role of the mass media in the process of the social construction of reality from both European and American communication research traditions is developed in this article. Studies of the media and the social construction of reality are classified and discussed according to the model. The authors suggest that a holistic approach, as defined in this article, is the best suited perspective for a more complete understanding of the role of the mass media in the process of the social construction of reality, and for the integration of the two schools of communication research.

Some Processes in the Cultivation Effect 
Robert P. Hawkins, Suzanne Pingree, University of Wisconsin-Madison 
This article addresses several elaborations and specifications of Gerbner and Gross' (1976) cultivation hypothesis: that heavy television viewers incorporate biases present in television content into their own social constructions of reality.

Using Stories to Reframe the Social Construction of Reality: A Trio of Activities 
Sandra Morgan, University of Hartford, Robert F. Dennehy, Pace University 
This article first presents the theoretical grounding for both storytelling and the social construction of reality. A sequence of classroom-tested tools for combining stories with reality construction is then described.

B2B 'Relationships' - A Social Construction of Reality? - A Study of Marks and Spencer and One of its Major Suppliers - Keith Blois, Templeton College, University of Oxford, UK 
'Relationships' are said to have distinguishing characteristics - in particular the existence of commitment and trust plus the expectation of continuity. The paper describes Marks and Spencer's links with one of its major suppliers using information about this exchange's history from sources including members of the supplier and the customer firms, legal submissions and also independent observers. It uses this information to make two interpretations of the exchange and as a consequence questions whether or not 'a relationship' in the B2B context is a social construction of reality.