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

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  2,966 ratings  ·  151 reviews
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 subdicipline that, since Max Scheler, has been known as ...more
Paperback, 1st edition, 240 pages
Published 1967 by Anchor (first published 1966)
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4.12  · 
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 ·  2,966 ratings  ·  151 reviews

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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
Apr 28, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Aug 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Rui Coelho
May 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
Griffin Wilson
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I found this to be a most excellent work -- in fact, I will be adding it to my 'favorites' because I liked it so much.

I discovered this work through a YouTube philosophy channel that I frequent (video linked here: I was intrigued, especially after I realized that this was one of the most influential works in sociology written in the 20th century.

Philosophers have often asked "What is real?," "Can we know ultimate reality?," or "What is reality made of?"
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
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the best from my college years. Mind opening.
Mar 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Jan D
Oct 15, 2018 rated it liked it
This was very interesting, but hard to read. I liked that it provided some very interesting, coherent ideas of what “reality” is for people and how it is “build”. For this, it introduces some key concepts like objectification, externalization, internalization and reification. Good for understanding the concepts was the use of examples.
Nevertheless, the language was very abstract and it seems that some basic knowledge in the terminology of marxism as well as A. Schütz’s phenomenology would have
Seth Pierce
Aug 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
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.

Dec 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Wow. The rumors are true. A damn fine piece of work.
Apr 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book attempts to concisely explain, in theoretical terms, how our understanding of reality arises from the social constructs that we are born into. If are beginning to notice that your opinions, views, mentalities , and goals stem from the people/ institutions (e.g. media, governments, schools... ) this may be a fun book to read. Overall I found it to help frame my perspective on a few things. I recommend this for pretty much anyone interested in epistemology, sociology, psychology, and pol ...more
Nov 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Interesting treatise on knowledge, how it is imparted, learned, and perceived. Useful in my job working in mental health. Also useful for discussing/arguing the misuse of vocabulary in discussions. Check it out.
Jesse James
Apr 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What is reality? How do we know what is real and what is not? And who gets to construct this reality? Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann addressed these and many other questions about reality, and did so through a sociological lens, rather than using approaches better suited to philosophy (1) or theology. Their treatise on reality has great implications for knowledge management systems of organization, but, more importantly, they describe how it is that reality is a social phenomenon. In this, the ...more
Steven Peterson
Sep 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
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
May 21, 2013 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
Oct 11, 2008 added it
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.

Almost finished with the class (almost as painful as the book) and the more we d
Jan 12, 2013 added it
Shelves: sociology
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
Rego Hemia
Jun 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.
Sep 16, 2010 rated it liked it
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.
Apr 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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!
Alexander Smith
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
Forewarning: In some ways, I think my rating might be pretty simple to discredit as me simply not having done the prereading. That said, one can take this critique to be about style of writing, or in an extreme, a critique of hiding a lack of validity.

In my reading, I find it very easy to misinterpret this work, or find it hard to follow. This might simply be that the authors will suggest a thing as being a legitimate claim against other notions of "reality", but they don't suggest why, or how t
E. C. Koch
Jan 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Once upon a time we, humankind, had a conception of knowledge as a pure, extra-lunary sphere, inaccessible to mere mortals, taking the efforts of the rare genius to reach up and wrest some of that knowledge for the benefit of the rest of us on Earth. To me this corresponds with a Renaissance sensibility, and while we don’t harbor conception of celestial spheres anymore, the perceived relationship between exceptional intelligence and discovery continues. And it is here that Berger and Luckmann in ...more
Steph Zemba
Jan 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is absolutely beautiful; clearly the authors had a mastery of the English language. I have to stop reading at points just out of sheer enjoyment.
So far, this is the best and most interesting sociology book I've read. It really "pulls back the curtain" of how our world is constructed (hence the title). I would definitely recommend it.
Some gems include:
"No historical situation can be understood except on its own terms"
"Society determines the presence, but not the nature, of ideas"
"No h
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is the best book for thinking about AR technologies e.g Pokemon Go. And it's from 1966. A recent writer synthesized the book's insights in the contemporary contexts: "Reality is made and remade and “augmented” continuously.... [It's] constructed and contested by people, groups, and structures, and one that is augmented and remixed by information and communication technologies.... That a phone app overlays a cartoon monster on an onscreen map is one small augmentation in a far larger process ...more
Manuel Romero
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sociología
A vague and idealist (in a philosophical view) social theory. Heavily influenced by the protestant heritage of the authors. Its aim to summarize and offer a (too) eclectic view of numerous anthropologists and sociologists make its fundamentals too ambiguous and fail in a relativistic point of view. See the last chapters where they said that the voodoo can be an effective medical technique in some societies. However, there are some chapters than offer an interesting view, like the one which focus ...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
“Human existence is, ab initio, an ongoing externalization. As man externalizes himself, he constructs the world into which he externalizes himself. In the process of externalization, he projects his own meanings into reality. Symbolic universes, which proclaim that all reality is humanly meaningful and call upon the entire cosmos to signify the validity of human existence, constitute the farthest reaches of this projection.80 b.” 3 likes
“Whatever happens “here below” is but a pale reflection of what takes place “up above.” 3 likes
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