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Article

(Не)социальное конструирование реальности в эпоху медиатизации

Социологическое обозрение. 2017. Т. 16. № 3. С. 409-427.

Nick Couldry and Andreas Hepp’s book The Mediated Construction of Reality published by Polity Press presents an attempt at reconsidering the classics of social theory, namely Berger and Luckmann’s phenomenology. Half a century after the appearance of The Social Construction of Reality two renowned media researchers ask questions anew about the ways of making and understanding the social world. This world nowadays has become profoundly mediatized, therefore the social gets increasingly rooted in the technological infrastructure of digital communication. The pervasive mediatization of social life transforms all its segments, on both micro- and macro-levels. The algorithms of social media and other computer systems quantify and automate social processes which used to be perceived as qualitative. In order to understand this world, social theory has to revise its approaches and basic notions. According to Couldry and Hepp, the classical optics of Berger and Luckmann’s social constructionism is no longer suitable. They develop a materialist phenomenology, which emphasizes the role of media technologies in constructing the social world. Furthermore, these authors regard the social world as a complex network of figurations, using and adapting the ideas of Norbert Elias. Their work has a pronounced critical purpose: the authors are concerned about the relative autonomy of social life, which is coming under control of technological systems’ imperatives, dictated by their developers’ commercial interests. The time is approaching when the social is no longer constructed in everyday human interactions, but produced by means of various media platforms instead. These platforms nowadays provide us with access to the social world and constitute its space. Does this mean the end of social construction of reality, as well as the end of social constructionism?