Knowledge can be understood in two ways. It describes the intellectual grasping and memorisation of content and concepts. But knowledge is also our contextual interpretation of a situation and people’s roles, thus guiding our understanding of reality and the subjective meaning we give to an action/situation.
In a constructivist perspective, these two aspects of knowledge converge.
To say it with the words of sociologist Blumer: human beings act toward things on the basis of the meanings that the things have for them; at the same time, the meaning of things is derived from the social interaction one has with others. Hence, these meanings are handled in, and modified through, an interpretative process used by the person in dealing with the things he encounters.
Between individuals or within a group, the relevant degree of knowledge can differ from one relationship to another, and knowledge can be reciprocal or assymmetric.
Nonetheless, social interaction grounds on the capacity of people to know the roles of others. This is how society is possible. When our knowledge of reality is insufficient, inappropriate or wrong, we are limited in our options of dealing with a situation.
Deficiencies in knowledge can be overcome with a better understanding of the situation at hand and/or training in a stimulating environment.