Epistemology is the concept used to describe ways of knowing. In other words, how you know what you know. Sociologists have been interested in how knowledge is produced since the discipline was founded in the 19th Century. How we come to know our world and make sense of it are influenced by social institutions, individual attitudes and behaviors, and our demographic position within the social order. The social order is an historical product which continues to change over time. To facilitate our learning from our socio-historical experiences, sociologists frequently turn to ideas expressed by social theorists. Social theory, whether classical or contemporary, may thus be employed to help us make sense of changes in our social and material world. Although technology is arguably as ancient as our first ancestors, as the chapters in this book reveal, the characteristics of and communications within our postindustrial society vary greatly from those which occurred in the age of modernity. This introductory chapter identifies a few well-known social theorists who have historically attempted to explain how and why social systems, at macro and micro levels, change over time. Next, it contextualizes communication as a cultural product, arguing the best way to examine the topic is from multiple, local perspectives. In the feminist tradition of postmodernist Sandra Harding, it implores us to consider the premise and source of the knowledge sources we use and espouse while communicating and interacting in specific ways and environments. Finally, grounded in the systemic backdrop of social inequality, this chapter encourages readers to begin the task of critical thinking and reflecting about how each of us, as individuals and members of local communities, nations and the world, assuage or reproduces the structurally-derived inequalities which the globalization of communication and technical systems and interacting in a global environment manifests.
|Title of host publication||Interaction in Communication Technologies and Virtual Learning Environments|
|Subtitle of host publication||Human Factors|
|Editors||Angela T Ragusa|
|Place of Publication||Hershey, PA|
|Publisher||Information Science Reference|
|Number of pages||6|
|Publication status||Published - 2010|