Ways of worldmaking in Wikipedia: Reality, legitimacy and collaborative knowledge making

Lindsay Fullerton*, James Ettema

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The on-going social construction of reality, according to Berger and Luckmann's classic treatise, entails both an explanation of the social order which ascribes "cognitive validity to its objectivated meanings" and a justification of that order which provides "a normative dignity to its practical imperatives." The implication is that our knowledge of social reality integrates cognitive facts and normative values to continuously legitimize that reality. We explore this integration of fact and value in an unexpected setting: the "talk pages" of the online encyclopedia Wikipedia in which discussions of article creation are recorded. Our analysis of these discussions draws on Nelson Goodman's Ways of Worldmaking, another classic on the social construction of reality, which catalogues strategies for producing a worldview. We utilize Goodman's theories in four cases of Wikipedia article creation - two histories, "Iraq War" and "Afghanistan War," and two biographies, "George W. Bush" and "Barack Obama" - all of which reveal how knowledge products are created.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-199
Number of pages17
JournalMedia, Culture and Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Wikipedia
  • collaboration
  • framing
  • knowledge claims
  • legitimation
  • point of view
  • relevance
  • social construction of reality
  • worldmaking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science


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