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

4.11  ·  Rating Details ·  2,333 Ratings  ·  115 Reviews
The classic work that redefined the sociology of knowledge and has inspired a generation of philosophers and thinkers In this seminal book, Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann examine how knowledge forms and how it is preserved and altered within a society. Unlike earlier theorists and philosophers, Berger and Luckmann go beyond intellectual history and focus on commonsens ...more
ebook, 219 pages
Published April 26th 2011 by Open Road Media (first published January 1st 1967)
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Hadrian
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
...more
Tyler
Apr 28, 2010 Tyler rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Tyler by: Various Reviews
Political thought since the Enlightenment has turned largely on an apparent opposition between society and the individual. From this has emerged a libertarian argument that society and social facts are actually meaningless notions. Philosophy has largely lost interest in the question with the advent of positivism, yet positivism is itself a contentious proposition.

The validity of the idea of “society” has been taken up in two books with maddeningly similar titles. The first, The Construction of
...more
Ricky
Aug 14, 2011 Ricky rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I like this:

...I am conscious of the world as consisting of multiple realities. As I move from one reality to another, I experience the transition as a kind of shock. This shock is to be understood as caused by the shift in attentiveness that the transition entails. Waking up from a dream illustrates this shift most simply (p. 21).


This reminds me of a passage from Pedro Calderon de la Barca's Life is a Dream


Dreams are rough copies of the waking soul
Yet uncorrected of the higher Will,
So that men
...more
Colin
Feb 25, 2008 Colin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the first books that really opened my eyes to epistemology and the sociology of knowledge. A must-read for anyone who wants to understand the social construction of knowledge and reality.
Víctor Galán
Feb 22, 2017 Víctor Galán rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
La sociología ha sido tradicionalmente discriminada de alguno círculos científicos por su polémica concepción de integrar a los seres humanos en bases de comportamiento general, es decir, estudiar a los grupos humanos como conjuntos coherentes y similares, donde la individualidad y excentricidad de cada uno queda relegado a un segundo plano y de aceptar esta visión de comportamiento de manada.

No obstante, como ocurre en muchos casos con la filosofía también, esta clase de libros ha permitido con
...more
Gale
Mar 19, 2011 Gale rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann define reality as “a phenomenon that we recognize as having a being independent of our own volition.” However, it is evident that humans themselves create their own form of realities and eventually have extreme belief that their realities are actually real. Then, how objective can our reality be if we cannot avoid bias?

Society is a human product. “Man’s relationship to his environment is characterized by world-openness.” Humans are species who are moldable within
...more
Rui Coelho
May 30, 2014 Rui Coelho rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very good introduction to constructivist perspectives on the social. It anticipates some of Foucault's and Goffman's theories, among others. This work deserves way more recognition.
Adam
Berger's Social Construction of Reality is a thorough and concise expression of a lot of things I'd already learned or intuited about the topic. This is a nice thing to have, cementing a lot of thoughts in place and confirming that I had indeed understood the concepts accurately. And Berger's writing is nowhere near as impenetrable and arcane as I'd expected it would be. His style is a bit ornate, using unusual phrasings and word variants, but it's all straightforward enough to parse on a first ...more
Seth Pierce
Aug 11, 2016 Seth Pierce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While verbose and redundant at times, this is a fascinating look at how humans create the cultural structures that produce reality and identity. While it is easy to detect some cynicism at times regarding objective reality, the authors do a decent job of presenting the material--even if they occasionally make sweeping statements that may not be true.

Libby
Dec 10, 2007 Libby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this back in my junior year of high school along with several others by the author, but my mind comes back to it again and again. It is both an insightful and a readable exploration of how society builds plausibility structures and colors our perception of reality.
Gordon
Jul 30, 2007 Gordon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. The rumors are true. A damn fine piece of work.
Jonas Erne
Mar 20, 2017 Jonas Erne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wie schreibt man über ein Buch, das viele wertvolle und zum Nachdenken anregende Gedanken enthält, während man der gesamten These des Buches diametral gegenüber steht? Kein einfaches Unterfangen, wie ich immer wieder feststellen muss. Vielleicht ist der beste Einstieg ins Thema mit einem Zitat von Neil Postman gefunden. Postman schreibt zu den Sozialwissenschaften: „Ich nenne die Forschungen dieser Leute Geschichtenerzählen, weil das Wort darauf hinweist, dass der Verfasser einer solchen Geschic ...more
Sunny
Mar 25, 2016 Sunny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In places I thought this book was mind-blowingly good in that I totally 100% agreed with some of its references to culture and how our thought and language in particular goes about moulding the reality around us and, by repetition, the culture we begin to form both as individuals and then as amalgamations of these individual cultures. In other places I totally didn’t have a scooby dooby doo what the book was on about and found myself skipping and whizzing through it. Here are some of the interes ...more
Jeremy Garber
Berger and Luckmann provide a theoretical sketch of how knowledge works in society – not theoretical knowledge, and not philosophical knowledge, but knowledge in general. They outline how humans are born into a particular world, characterized by their face-to-face interactions and their everyday conversations – these interactions and conversations are the “real world” to all of us. Although our reality is arbitrarily created by human interaction, it becomes very real in social institutions, part ...more
Nicholas
May 21, 2013 Nicholas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
This is not an easy read by any means,as it was aimed at stimulating academic discussion in the sixties and as such some of the theories are explained in a very convoluted and academic manner. Thankfully the authors recognised the importance of communicating their views to a wider public and provided alternative explanations and numerous and often off beat humorous examples to elucidate the theories under discussion.
The book,as I see it,attempts to explain how far human interaction affects the
...more
Katy
I'm reading this for a class at school (like all the other books on my currently-reading shelf) and it is painful. I don't fully understand it until we have discussed it in class but it is full of ideas that I've never come across before and that change the way I think about knowledge and reality. The language is definitely from the 1960's though, apparently the only people who think about such things are men.

Update:
Almost finished with the class (almost as painful as the book) and the more we d
...more
Andrew
From what I understand, this is a central text of 20th Century sociology, and really the book that introduced social constructionism to the general public, which, of course, is one of the most abused and misunderstood and unfairly maligned and unreasonably exalted concepts of 20th Century thought in general.

And, for those of us who have come of intellectual age in an American scene permeated with social constructionism and its innumerable offshoots, it makes a lot of sense, in the same bluff way
...more
Rego Hemia
Jun 12, 2008 Rego Hemia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A sociologist's book on epistemology. While not everyone I share the ideas with agrees with them, most everyone agrees that this book provides some of the most useful tools for identifying different ways of thinking about reality that they've ever seen. I'm rereading the book now, so I'll likely further expand on this once I'm through, but I can't recommend it enough as a source of valuable intro- and extro- spection about the world that we create through our understanding.
Racie
Sep 16, 2010 Racie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sociology
A masterpiece. No one needs me to tell them how important this book is to sociology. Like a lot of theory, the language can sometimes be daunting because the wordy clarifications needed. Over all it is a fairly easy and quick read which I know I will return to again and again.
Mujib Romadlon
Nov 15, 2013 Mujib Romadlon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
dialektika konstruk sosiologi Internalisasi-obyektifikasi-eksternalisasi selalu mengiringi seseorang dimanapun ia berada, menarik sekali...
Bryon
Apr 03, 2008 Bryon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like to base jump while eating a scorpion filled with pcp
it'll blow your brains to the back of this auditorium!
EEC
Mar 18, 2017 EEC rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Epistemology and social facts
Mike
Dec 13, 2013 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If I had rated this book in 1967, I would have been smart to give it five stars. Today, some of the impact has faded and I am putting up only four. I am not sure how much impact this book has had, but I fear it has not been enough. Given the historical space between the time this book was written and my present, one (that somewhat cynical and alway hip "one") would think that the observations and methodologies of this book would show up more frequently in discussions about our institutions, pers ...more
Steven Peterson
Sep 28, 2009 Steven Peterson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book begins with the defining statement of its thesis (page 1): "The basic contentions of the argument of this book are implicit in its title, namely, that reality is socially constructed. . . ." The essence of this: our understanding of what is "real" is something that comes from our living in a social world. That social world is a major part of defining what "reality" is.

The book is not necessarily an easy read. But the authors' argument is important and the reader will be rewarded by "to
...more
Jimmy Pryor
Jul 21, 2014 Jimmy Pryor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sociology, philosophy
This is very good. I had had it on my to-read list for years.

While Berger and Lachmann acknowledge the contributions of George Herbert Mead to the idea that our conception of our selves and the world, they go much further. Thankfully, they take the sociology of knowledge out of the realm of academia and intellectual history and focus on the everyday life of everyday people.

This is really the sketch of an idea, a hypothesis of how people come to construct their understanding of the world and pa
...more
Brandon
Feb 06, 2011 Brandon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jeff Beebe
Recommended to Brandon by: Dr. Jaye Houston
Its words are those of a stroke on a page, but filled with multifold thunderstorms as one is continuously assailed by thought. Thought of how the individual is placed into the context of society, of how subjective reality emerges and institutionalization, the origination process of the social institutions that one struggles to live in, especially those de novo. But the book is definitely worth the read insofar as it coerces individuals to rethink their places in society and the societal structur ...more
Matthew
Sep 08, 2011 Matthew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a rewarding read and an important book. I wouldn't recommend it to everyone, but if you are interested in the sociology of knowledge, you should start here. It's one of those game changing books. Here's a brief description of the book from Wikipedia:

"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 in a so
...more
Adam Ross
I really expected this book to be more radical than it was. Having grown up homeschooled, I learned a lot about various books from critics of those books, and this was one of those big, scary "postmodernist" books that defended moral relativism.

Instead, I found a pretty standard, if dated, account of what we might call "social perception of the world" (the book was written in 1966). Anyone who has been following epistemological philosophy for the last, I don't know, hundred years (or basically s
...more
S.
May 30, 2015 S. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
That was pretty tough. Good thing Berger and Luckmann are excellent guides through a very theoretical and thought provoking work.

Put simply, Berger and Luckmann posit that social reality is no more than a human construction. From the moment we wake up and begin to reorient with our surroundings (e.g. I am "Scott", I am a "student"), we engage in sense making procedures to make the social world seem "real" and "objective". This is not only an individual process: entire institutions exist to maint
...more
Charlie
Dec 26, 2014 Charlie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: social-science
How does knowledge function in society? This book examines how knowledge becomes objectified, institutionalized, and internalized in a dialectical process. The authors also treat the ways that symbolic universes are socially maintained, elaborated, legitimated, and undermined. The biological and psychological elements of humanity are well represented.

The book proceeds in cumulative fashion, advancing carefully by many small steps. Thus the first thirty or so pages may seem a bit unproductive, b
...more
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Peter L. Berger is an internationally renowned sociologist, and the founder of Boston University's Institute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs. He was born in Vienna and came to the U.S. in his late teens. He has a master's degree and a doctorate from the New School for Social Research in New York. After two years in the United States Army, he taught at the University of Georgia and the Univ ...more
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“Whatever happens “here below” is but a pale reflection of what takes place “up above.” 2 likes
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