Sociology Knowledge & Reality

Reality as a quality appertaining to phenomena that we recognize as having a being independent of our own violition (we cannot wish them away). Knowledge as the certainity that phenomena are real and that they possess specific characteristics.

It is in this (admittedly simplistic) sense that the terms have relevance both to the man in the street and to the philosopher. The man in the street inhabits a world that is “real” to him, albeit in different degrees, and he “knows” with different degrees of confidence that this world possess such and such characteristics. The philosopher of course, will raise questions about the ultimate status of both this “realitu” and this “knowledge” What is real? How is one to know?

These are among the most ancient questions not only aphilosophical inquiry proper, but of human thought as such. Sociological interest in questions of “reality” and “knowledge” is thus initially justified by the fact of their social reality. What is “real” to a Tibetan Monk may not be “real” to an American business man. The knowledge of criminal differs from the knowledge of criminologist. It follows that specific agglomerations of “reality” and “knowledge” pertain to specific social contexts, and that these relationships will have to be included in an adequate sociological analysis of these contexts.

The need for sociology knowledge is thus already gicen the observable differences between societies in terms of what is taken for granted as knowledge in them.

Beyond this, however, adiscipline calling itself by this name will have to concern itself with general ways by which “realities” are takrn as “known” in human societies. In otherwords, a sociology of knowledge will have to deal not only with the emperic variety of knowledge in human societies, but also with the processes by which anybody of knowledge comes to be socially established as reality.

Its our contention, then that the sociology of knowledge must concern itself with whatever passes for knowledge in a society regardless of the ultimate validity or invadility (by whatever criteria) for such knowledge. And in so far as all human “knowledge” is developed, transmitted and maintained in social situations, the sociology of knowledge must seek to understand the process by which this is done is such taken away that a taken-for-granted reality congeals for the man in the street. In otherwords, we contended that the sociology of knowledge is concerned with the analysis of the social construction of reality.


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