Where Are the Leaders and the Makers of History in the Constructivist Conception of Berger and Luckmann?

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 17:30
Oral Presentation
Jiri SUBRT, Charles University, Faculty of Humanities, Prague, Czech Republic
Where are the leaders and the makers of history in the constructivist conception of Berger and Luckmann?

Giddens observes that social theory tends to ignore the fact that social structures are largely the result of conflicts which the societies have undergone in the past. Berger and Luckmann are no exception to this, as in their conception people construct social reality because they are able to negotiate using means of communication. Questions of physical labor, forcible compulsion and power control lie outside of this theoretical perspective. Furthermore, the common work of Berger and Luckmann introduces the idea of institutions as the result of purposeful human action. However, the formation of institutions is not always the result of conscious design. Elias's work The Civilization Process shows that a number of structures and institutions have formed through long-term development processes. The theory of Berger and Luckmann is rooted in interactionism and is close to the micro-sociological perspective, and perhaps for this reason we are not confronted with the fact that social positions and roles are hierarchically organized. There are actors who influence social reality only at the micro-social level, but there are also those who– through their actions– affect macro-social processes. Besides those who with their daily behavior contribute to the reproduction of existing social structures and relationships, actors can be identified who bring innovation and change to such reproductive processes, and eventually even a smaller number who come up with ideas and acts which constitute incitements to fundamental reform or revolutionary steps. The constructivist perspective is characterised by the fact that that even when it postulates human individuals as creators of social reality, they are usually regarded as anonymous and interchangeable members of humanity. The problem of great historical figures and their influence on society and time is not resolved.