Sociology of knowledge is a subfield within the sociology discipline where researchers and theorists concentrate on knowledge and information as processes that are socially dependent, and therefore how knowledge is considered to be a social activity. Despite this definition, information and awareness are relational in terms of race, age, gender, orientation, ethnicity, language, religion, and communication between people. What sociologists consider “positionality” and the philosophies that define one’s life.
Information is made possible and formed by the social organization of a group or culture as socially situated practices. Social institutions, such as schooling, families, religion, media, and scientific and medical institutions, play central roles in the development of knowledge. Institutionally generated information appears to be regarded more highly in society than common knowledge, implying that knowledge hierarchies exist where some expertise and knowledge forms are considered more reliable or true than others. These variations are often related to discussion or the methods used to convey one’s understanding.
Knowledge and power are considered to be closely related, as there is power in the process of knowledge formation, power in the hierarchy of knowledge, and particularly power in the development of knowledge about others and their societies. In this sense, all knowledge is political, and the processes for generating knowledge and information in a variety of ways have broad consequences.
This is what the some of the research topics on the sociology of knowledge: The ways people learn about the world, the role of the economy and, consumer goods in shaping knowledge formation, The political power of common sense.
The French social theorist Michel Foucault made an important contribution in the late twentieth century to the sociology of knowledge. Much of his work focused on the role institutions play in generating information about people, especially those deemed “deviant,” such as medicine and jail. Foucault theorized that institutions generate discourses that are used to construct definitions of subjects and objects that place people within a hierarchy of society. Those categories and hierarchies arise from and perpetuate power social structures. He believed it was a form of power to reflect others through the development of categories. Foucault argued that no information is impartial, that it is all tied to government, and that it is all social.