By Heather Strozier

Main Points

Social Constructionists see knowledge as a construct of society rather than as an immutable law. Reality is


both objective and subjective and both of these are socially constructed.

In the case of objective reality, Berger and Luckmann state that reality is brought about through the experiences of the individual within society. Individuals affect the whole of their society, which then affects more individuals. Eventually this becomes an imbedded routine within that society and in later generations becomes an objective set of knowledge. (Andrews. 40)

Subjective reality is achieved through socialization, both primary and secondary, and through our place and identity given to us from that socialization. The objective reality is transmitted through social constructs via language, internalized, made meaningful and then used in a way so that concepts can be used generally within society. Andrews uses the example of the phrase “have a good day at the office.” (41) A phrase easily understood by us, but may not be understood by those living in a sub Saharan tribe in Africa.

One example of this is mental disorders. In modern, western society, we consider symptoms that would be classified as schizophrenia to be considered abnormal and we treat those people accordingly in the medical profession. Society in general may treat them as an unwelcome outcast. In other cultures, these same symptoms may instead be seen as a gift, label the person as a shaman and make them a highly respected member of the community. 

Key Figures

Peter Ludwig Berger (March 17, 1929)

Thomas Luckmann (October 14, 1927)

Eric John Ernest Hobsbawm, (9 June 1917 – 1 October 2012)

Erving Goffman (11 June 1922 – 19 November 1982)


Key Texts

Berger, P., & Luckmann, T. (1966). The social construction of reality; a treatise in the sociology of knowledge,. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday.

Boghossian, P. (2006). Fear of knowledge: Against relativism and constructivism. Oxford: Clarendon Press ;.

Gergen, K. (1999). An invitation to social construction. London: Sage.


Andrews, T. (2012). What is Social Constructionism? The Grounded Theory Review, 11(1), 39-46. Retrieved February 16, 2015, from content/uploads/2012/06/WhatisSocialConstructionismVol111.pdf

Boghossian, P. What is Social Constructionism? Retrieved February 17, 2015, from

social constructionism. (n.d.).'s 21st Century Lexicon. Retrieved February 17, 2015, from website: constructionism