Sunday, November 14, 2004

“The Social Construction of Reality:
Implications for Future Directions in American Studies.”
Gordon Kelly
Kelly's article is a review of Peter Bergman and Thomas Luckman’s book, which advances a sociological theory of knowledge. Kelly’s discussion of the topic is fairly unreadable. He explains that Bergman and Luckman wrote a book that is important for the future of American Studies because they deal with the idea of “social reality” or “those pancultural processes in and through which the members of any given human society construct and maintain their world” (49). Sociology of knowledge considers the question of “the subjective meaning-complex of action,” which refers to the idea of considering “social facts as things” (52).
The ideas Kelly is excited about become somewhat clearer when he brings in James Spradley’s notion that “The richest settings for discovering the rules of a society are those where novices of one sort or another are being instructed in appropriate behavior” (54). So here it’s easier to see the connection between sociology and the study of cultures.

Kelly connects the study of literature specifically with Bergman and Luckman’s book by saying that the book helps us to think of literature in its “creation, publication, distribution, consumption, evaluation, and selective transmission—as an important institution for the production of meaning and the maintenance of social reality in society” (54). So this will help us to understand literary criticism better as well as look at “the canonical figures of American literature as symbolic appropriation of ‘heroic’ lives” (54).

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