The Thomas Theorem

So I ordered an intro to sociology textbook online… and it’s become my nighttime reading material this past week. Much to my own elation, it’s actually a great book with humorous prose and vast insight into a field that seems to have suddenly consumed me. Here’s a little tidbit of something I found fascinating in last night’s reading session:

“If men [and women] define situations as real, they are real in their consequences.”

In other words, our perceptions of what is real determine how we act more so than reality itself. It’s sort of got the same feel as Inception, doesn’t it? But when I really think about what this theory is saying, it makes me wonder just how many “false” realities we live in on a daily basis. Sarah referenced this site first, and my housemates chimed in yesterday with their own experience, but I was brought to this video where the speaker provides a brilliant argument for how social notions of anything can often disillusion our present day realities. Put more simply, people often talk about something as if it were true, the idea perpetuates and eventually becomes social fact, but hidden and sitting on the wayside is empirical data waiting to be discovered and shown to the world to disprove whatever was previously conceived as truth.

I’m not going to make any claims about what we should believe or what process we should go about in formulating our beliefs, but I think in relation to communication, this theory provides excellent insight as to why there is so much dissension within communities. But it’s also why there is solidarity. People rally behind similar realities, and clash with those who have opposing ones. Yet, and at least for myself, I feel that deconstructing these realities to their origin, or simply recognizing them as realities that exist within our daily lives, helps a great deal in understanding other people. For me it helps to offer grace to those who hurt me through the implementation of their own ideals. And I’m real thankful for that.

I’ve got to go, but I think this quote can lead anybody down some rabbit holes of self-discovery. I know I’ve only touched the surface of it.


~ by Chris Kyle on September 28, 2011.

2 Responses to “The Thomas Theorem”

  1. Brother. Love the reading. You should have taken classical Soc. Theory with me…you would have loved it. I have a few books that you would like a lot.

  2. This makes me so happy! What intro book are you reading? This reminds me that I was going to lend you my collection of soc essays…maybe I will bring it to your housewarming party, if I remember!

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