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Technological Constructions of Reality: An Ontological Perspective
Unformatted Document Text:  Running Head: TECHNOLOGICAL CONSTRUCTION OF REALITY subjective social reality (Berger & Luckman, 1966). Objective social reality consists of the meanings and objects in reality that are empirically verifiable. Symbolic social reality consists of symbolic representations of reality through visual, textual or aural media. Subjective social reality consists of both objective and symbolic realities and is constructed through the individual’s interpretations of those realities, which is then compared against culturally defined interpretations (Berger & Luckman, 1966). The subjective reality is broken down into “zones of relevance” where meaning is constructed on a spectrum of “close”, or personally relevant, and “remote”, or abstract (Adoni & Mane, 1984, p. 326). Each zone impacts how the individual will construct her reality through the object or symbol identified. Though popular in the field of sociology, this theory was not applied to communication and mass media until decades later. When applied to mass media the theory implies an active audience in which media consumers “actively process . . . information, reshape it, and store only what serves culturally defined needs” (Baran & Davis, 2006, p. 249). In other words, people do not passively take in messages through media; instead they actively determine which messages suit their needs and construct their realities based off that acceptance and cultural definition. Along with this, people use typifications to quickly process messages they deem relevant to their everyday lives. Typifications are established cultural definitions of objects and meanings a person accumulates throughout her life that are referenced in the construction of her reality (Baran & Davis, 2006). When applied to mass media, social constructionism focuses on the culturally defined meanings individuals are inundated with through the mass media content. In their 1992 article, Gamson et al. analyze the impact media control of cultural meanings has on social constructionism and democracy. According to Gamson et al. (1992), “the media generally 5

Authors: Vincent, Cindy.
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subjective social reality (Berger & Luckman, 1966).  Objective social reality consists of the 
meanings and objects in reality that are empirically verifiable.  Symbolic social reality consists 
of symbolic representations of reality through visual, textual or aural media.  Subjective social 
reality consists of both objective and symbolic realities and is constructed through the 
individual’s interpretations of those realities, which is then compared against culturally defined 
interpretations (Berger & Luckman, 1966).  The subjective reality is broken down into “zones of 
relevance” where meaning is constructed on a spectrum of “close”, or personally relevant, and 
“remote”, or abstract (Adoni & Mane, 1984, p. 326).  Each zone impacts how the individual will 
construct her reality through the object or symbol identified.
Though popular in the field of sociology, this theory was not applied to communication 
and mass media until decades later.  When applied to mass media the theory implies an active 
audience in which media consumers “actively process . . . information, reshape it, and store only 
what serves culturally defined needs” (Baran & Davis, 2006, p. 249).  In other words, people do 
not passively take in messages through media; instead they actively determine which messages 
suit their needs and construct their realities based off that acceptance and cultural definition. 
Along with this, people use typifications to quickly process messages they deem relevant to their 
everyday lives.  Typifications are established cultural definitions of objects and meanings a 
person accumulates throughout her life that are referenced in the construction of her reality 
(Baran & Davis, 2006).  
When applied to mass media, social constructionism focuses on the culturally defined 
meanings individuals are inundated with through the mass media content.  In their 1992 article, 
Gamson et al. analyze the impact media control of cultural meanings has on social 
constructionism and democracy.  According to Gamson et al. (1992), “the media generally 

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