• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

What is reality and how do we make sense of it in everyday life? Why do some realities seem more real than others, and what of seemingly contradictory and multiple realities? This book considers reality as we represent, perceive and experience it. It suggests that the realities we take as ‘real’ are the result of real-time, situated practices that draw on and draw together many things - technologies and objects, people, gestures, meanings and media. Examining these practices illuminates reality (or rather our sense of it) as always ‘virtually real’, that is simplified and artfully produced. This examination also shows us how the sense of reality that we make is nonetheless real in its consequences. Making Sense of Reality offers students and educators a guide to analysing social life. It develops a performance-based perspective (‘doing things with’) that highlights the ever-revised dimension of realities and links this perspective to a focus on object-relations and an ecological model of culture-in-action.

Multiple Realities and Their Maintenance
Multiple Realities and Their Maintenance

As an entry into the issue of multiple realities, consider numerous ‘faithless’ or multiple readings of any published text – Durkheim’s own, for example. As Alexander and Smith have noted (2005: 2), Durkheim’s texts are incapable of fixing any one hard-and-fast reading, even among scholars who devote hundreds of hours to fine-grained interpretation. To the contrary: debate, controversy, different readings and rival representations of what Durkheim meant abound.

As with Durkheim’s books, so too the symbolic forms that structure our acts and consciousness: culture does not in itself underwrite or contextualise or frame actions and perceptions. Culture is not, in other words, an explanatory resource of social action but is, along with action, a topic to be explained.

Thus, as we have just explored in Chapter 6, the ...

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