Society as Social Construction and Text

Miloslav Petrusek



The moderate interpretation of the Thomas’ Theorem suggests little more than a failure at the assessment of objective situation. Its radical interpretation allows thinking the existence of new social reality. The postmodern condition facilitates this understanding. The underlying idea is not recent; Marx’s theory is a precursor to the constructionist approach. The canonical foundations of social constructionism were laid by Berger and Luckmann, who sought to reconcile Weberian and Durkheimian traditions in their concept of the social construction of reality. Phenomena like gender or consumerism appear to be suitable objects for such an approach. Attribution of meaning in culture nonetheless offers to expand the principle to any domain and, in some cases, such as the labeling theory of deviation, it tries its own limits. Applied to science itself, the principle raises questions about the status of scientific knowledge that circumvent epistemological issues. Social constructionism is itself surpassed by the linguistic turn and discursive theories of society. The notion of society as text may challenge realist and objectivist positions. In order to remain productive, however, the notion must retain the presupposition of order and rules of reading and thus admit that, actually, society is not merely a text.


constructionism; sociology; textuality; science;

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TEORIE VĚDY / THEORY OF SCIENCE – journal for interdisciplinary studies of science is published twice a year by the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences (Centre for Science, Technology, and Society Studies). ISSN 1210-0250 (Print) ISSN 1804-6347 (Online) MK ČR E 18677 web: /// email: