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Session Overview
RS12_01a_P: Theoretical Perspectives in the Sociology of Knowledge 1: Communicative Constructivism
Wednesday, 30/Aug/2017:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: René Tuma, TU Berlin
Session Chair: Sasa Bosancic, University of Augsburg
Location: PE.3.40
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: E, Level: 3.

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What is Communicative Constructivism?

Hubert Knoblauch

Technical University Berlin, Germany

In the last decades, a new approach has been emerging which came to be called communicative constructivism. It is mainly based on empirical studies in sociology, communication, and other social sciences studies. Although they are inspired by the “Social Construction of Reality”, they avoid the presumed “cognitivism”, “subjectivism” and “relativism” as ascribed to Social Constructivism” by postconstructivists. In this presentation I will sketch the basic theoretical frame of the emerging theory of the communicative construction of reality. Correcting some of the problems of the Social Constructivism raised by its critiques, it is based on a notion of communicative action. After sketching some of the most basic categories, such as reciprocity, performativity and relationality, it the paper turns to the question how the approach can address the notion of knowledge. In the conclusion it indicates the relevance of these social theoretical notions in order to understand the move from what has been called the “Knowledge Society” to the “Communication Society”.

Variety of Communicative Constructivism

Tilo Grenz, Michaela Irene Pfadenhauer

University of Vienna, Austria

In Sociology, Social Constructivism is a common frame of reference. Especially in the German speaking Sociology of Knowledge “The Social Construction of Reality” by Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann serves as a mile stone in theory. However, even here Social Constructivism has become the notion of an old-fashioned approach that is to be seen as deficient in regard to certain topics which today are a matter of course (e.g. body, materiality, performance, discourse).

Lately there have been various attempts towards a fundamental shift from Social to Communicative Constructivism including the “Mediated Construction of Reality”, the “Discoursive Construction of Reality”, the “Communicative Construction of Reality”, and the “Communicative Power”. With each attempt different conceptual priorities are related.

Since their common point of reference is the “Social Construction of Reality”, the question to ask is how close the variants actually are to the reference. Hence, we focus on the variant’s relation to the “dialectic” as the book’s core-idea. This allows to discuss which variant can be located either as a further development of Social Constructivism or as a new development. Subsequently, the focus lies on the variants’ closeness to each other. At least two questions come easily to mind: Is there only old wine in new skins or evidence of a paradigm shift? Since none of the above mentioned approaches intends to ignore the reference to Berger and Luckmann and all of them take empirical evidence as a rationale for its renewal: shouldn’t they finally end up in a significant similarity?

The communicative construction of powerful, normative social fictions - The sustainability of love and the love of sustainability

Regine Herbrik

Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany

The presentation suggests to read “sustainability” and “love” as mostly normative, social fictions. It argues that it is useful to transfer Wolfgang Iser’s triad of the real, the imaginary and the fictitious to the field of sociology of knowledge. With that, we will try to see how the real and the imaginary are intertwined in everyday life, and how their interplay manifests itself from time to time in figurations that can be called ‘fictions’, in the non-pejorative sense of the term.

Empirically, it will be shown, how the communicative construction of ‘love’ and ‘sustainability’ is accomplished by actors and in the framework of discourses. By doing so, several dimensions of the interrelations between love and sustainability will become visible. We will, on the one hand, discuss the question, how certain aspects of sustainability, as for example durability or ‘mindfulness’, are part of current concepts of love. On the other hand, we will ask and try to find first answers to the question, which emotions are linked to sustainability, which emotional styles are socially desired thereby and what love, especially caring and parental love as well as the love of god, has to do with sustainability.

It will be argued that the communicative construction, as a methodological framework, allows us to understand the complex interplay between the normativity and the emotionality of social fictions, such as “love” and “sustainability”. It also helps us to grasp how both of them are communicatively related to each other.

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