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Social Construction: Reality

  • By: Sheila McNamee
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann are the names most often associated with the social construction of reality, having published their volume by the same name in 1966. Their book focused on the ways in which knowledge/reality is constructed in everyday interactions. At the time, this was a radically different way of thinking about knowledge. Prior to Berger and Luckmann's work, it was assumed that reality could be discovered (not constructed) through objective scientific methods. Proposing that individuals' everyday interactions are the site of knowledge/reality construction, Berger and Luckmann challenged the tradition of scientific thinking and focused attention on the relative nature of reality.

Reality, as individuals know it, is the by-product of people coordinating their activities and negotiating naming practices. To understand how individuals come to ...

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