By Peter L. Berger
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Additional info for The social reality of religion
The fundamental processes of socialization and social control, to the extent that they are successful, serve to mitigate these threats. Socialization seeks to ensure a continuing consensus concerning the most important features of the social world. Social control seeks to contain individual or group resistances within tolerable limits. There is yet another centrally important process that serves to support the swaying edifice of social order. This is the process of legitimation. By legitimation, is meant socially objectivated 'knowledge' that serves to explain and justify the social order.
If they are to be effective in supporting the social order, however, they will have to be internalized and serve to define subjective reality as well. In other words, effective legitimation implies the establishment of symmetry between objective and subjective definitions of reality. The reality of the world as socially defined must be maintained externally, in the conversation of men with each other, as well as internally, in the way by which the individual apprehends the world within his own consciousness.
But cognitive assertions about kin1 Religion and World-Maintenance 39 ship, such as, 'You are X's brother and she is your sister', are legitimating in an even more fundamental sense. To put it a little crudely, legitimation begins with statements as to 'what's what'. Only on this cognitive basis is it possible for the normative propositions to be meaningful. Finally, it would be a serious mistake to identify legitimation with theoretical ideation. 'Ideas', to be sure, can be important for purposes of legitimation.