Saturday, May 15, 2021

The concept of social reality in the context of symbolic universe.

 The concept of social reality in the context of symbolic universe. 

In this lesson we are going to try and understand what exactly is meant by the “social construction” of “reality”. What do we mean by these words? Unless we understand each of these interrelated concepts it would be difficult to proceed with our presentation of this most important aspect of social reality. Concept of social reality in the context of symbolic universe Social reality indicates quite clearly that what we are referring to is in fact basically the capacity of society to develop different ways of looking at the constituents of the visible aspects of reality. Thus in fact as we will see that there are many societies and many cultures, but what is common among them is that social reality tries to perpetuate itself through the younger generation, but this does not usually succeed and the social reality of each generation has several points of departure from the preceding generation. Concept of social reality in the context of symbolic universe What is being said is that members of any society live by certain beliefs and principles but these were not always there and there have been significant shifts in each generations point of view and perspectives. Concept of social reality in the context of symbolic universe The points of importance in discussing the social construction of reality is that in most societies the version of reality is not a single monolithic construct but rather consists of several layers of meaning and existence. That is to say that there are many social constructions of reality which differ from category to category.

Construction of Reality

Now it would be natural to ask how is all this construction of multiple and synchronic realities are achieved. What are the ways and the mechanism in which we as members together create a perception of the world process. Surprisingly social realities are created as soon as the new members of society are ready a particular imprinting is begun to be ingrained in them. Among the important areas of life include the economic, political, psychological, and so on and each of them is put together by training the new generation to act and behave in some particular manner which they deem to be fit and worthy of them. The social fabric of any society is a fragile construct which has to be constantly renewed through ritual and sustained interactions. Thus reality itself is “fragile”so that any disturbing or conflictual situations lead to a breakdown of order and mayhem rules. After such social breakdowns which occur in interaction, in times of war with another nation or even chronic lawlessness. It takes much time to recover from such breakdowns of reality and the time they take to repair the social fabric may last many years or even make a lifetime impact on some of the members. Thus as we introduce the lesson we have to point out that culture is many faceted and the construction of reality though similar in many societies does in fact differ from individual to individual and from nation to nation. There is doubt that in the mind of the young and impressionable that has to develop certain capacity to be bounded say by religious or economic status.

Phenomena of Social Reality 

Berger and Luckmann feel that to study the phenomena of social reality implies that we use everyday common sense reality as a point of departure. This is what knowledge ultimately comprises: the interaction and participation in social life and process. Thus “commonsense ideas” are the most important ingress into understanding the sociology and phenomena of individuals, groups and society. Thus it is clear that society has at the very least two sides to its existence and ontology- one is subjective and the other is objective. Together these facts give rise to the understanding that while there is a group life for an individual there is in fact an objective reality , rules and regulations which have to be adhered to, unless the individual or group wants to be ostracized. Thus first of all the reality of social life is sui generic that exists over above and beyond any single individual. Thus Berger is interested, as are we, in finding out how humans produce and perpetuate social life in all its manifold facets and aspects. Thus by attempting to understand social reality we are really asking how it was constructed, because this is what will give us the cues to proceed further with our line of enquiry.

Language and Social Reality 

Another area where social reality is present is that of the area of language. All languages have a particular grammar and syntax, and is the most significant and important sign system of all societies. It helps to create a fund of knowledge which is continuously going expansion and contraction as different words and ideas which enter into the overall fund of knowledge and ideas. And there are some aspects of knowledge and understanding which ‘fall out’ of the overall system of ideas and knowledge. Concept of social reality in the context of symbolic universe Thus for example the English language has compiled vast dictionaries which are revised, edited and updated, and in these social procedures many new words and concepts enter into the language. There are also words and ideas that become defunct and are removed from the dictionary and language. So we can say that language as a social reality accumulates knowledge and transmits it to other members of the human system, which in turn create a socially ordered environment. It may be pointed out here that language itself is a highly complex aspect of social reality and research into how a human being leans and adapts to the social order or reality. Concept of social reality in the context of symbolic universe Thus it is pointed out that language is symbolic and therefore capable of apprehending social reality. Therefore, it is a social fact which exercises control or restraint over human members, and yet remains an externalisation, and outside the individual. This is because the ontological reality of language is such that it is the backbone of social order and its main artery of communication.

Social Reality and The Symbolic Universe 

Concept of social reality in the context of symbolic universe Now what is the implication for social organisation and the maintenance of the symbolic universe? We have already made the point that reality is socially defined, and that it is human beings and human groups that define its contours. Thus we find that the specialists in a society provide complete legitimation of the social reality. Such experts usually hold very different views from lay members on definitions of reality. Thus we may point out again that there can be differences of view and opinion between the experts and the laymen. There is thus a sort of competition on whose definitions and concepts are going to be beneficial and become operative in social interaction. As we can see there are different ways of apprehending and perceiving social process.

Such legitimations are necessary as we have pointed out, because without them no new ideology can be formed or if formed it cannot be successful in maintaining and propagating it. On the other hand we find institutions themselves are changed or altered in some way to fit into the existing social reality, and there is thus a dialectic between institutions and social reality. Again the definition of reality itself projects that reality and these definitions often have a self fulfilling aspect to them and begin to change the contours of reality itself in social process. Concept of social reality in the context of symbolic universe Thus social change can only be understood as a dialectical process between the new theories that legitimate new institutions. These institutions are also affected and themselves change to have a closer correlation between themselves and the theories and ideologies used to legitimate them. It may be added here that the social construction of reality is a human product and has been realised by the efforts of human beings alone and is experienced by them as a set of complete experiences.

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