knowledge Examples & Characteristics

We explain what popular knowledge is, how it is learned, its function, and other characteristics. In addition, other types of knowledge.

What is popular knowledge?

By popular knowledge or common knowledge, we understand that type of knowledge that does not come from formal and academic sources, as is the case with institutional knowledge ( science, religion, etc.), nor does it have specific authorship.

They belong to the commons of society and are acquired directly from the experience of the world, the result of custom, common sense, or community life. In other words, they learn spontaneously, naturalized.

In a way, popular knowledge and vulgar knowledge would become more or less synonymous: both are forms of unofficial knowledge, which do not require logical, experimental, or rational arguments.

However, it is possible that the term “popular” also means ancestral knowledge, of tribal or local origin, transmitted from one generation to another orally. They are marginal knowledge regarding written, academic and scientific knowledge.

Popular knowledge can operate as a tool of mutual understanding between individuals belonging to different communities. It can also provide common ground to form a joint identity, especially when it refers to stories, myths, and beliefs, in which there are usually fragments of shared historical truth.

Characteristics of popular knowledge

Popular knowledge is transmitted socially and communally, or from the direct experience of the world. Therefore, it does not require studies or preparation, nor can it be administered by a group, as is the case with institutional knowledge.

On the other hand, it may have limited validity in cases where the community, or geographic region, is changed, since it is, basically, a social construction. However, it should not be confused with common sense, which is a related logic more or less widespread within society or some group within it.

Examples of popular knowledge

popular knowledge gender rolesGender roles are part of popular knowledge that changes over time.

Some examples of popular knowledge are:

  • Gender roles, that is, what is understood within a given community that are the typical tasks of a man and a woman, or a single, married man and woman, etc.
  • The rules of seduction and courtship, which in addition to popular, vary generationally and are not written anywhere.
  • The identity stories of a community, such as epics, cosmologies, and even urban legends.

Differences with scientific knowledge

Unlike popular knowledge and other forms of informal knowledge, scientific knowledge requires validation, demonstration, and specialized dissemination.

In fact, to obtain popular knowledge you only need to belong to a certain community, even temporarily. On the contrary, scientific knowledge is reserved for those initiated in a formal way of technical and highly specialized learning, since it is not understandable by anyone naturally.

For example, anyone can know more or less when it rains in a given region since custom and experience allow it. On the other hand, a specialist in climatology can explain these phenomena and even make climatic predictions, since it is his area of ​​scientific expertise and he has the conceptual tools for it.

Other types of knowledge

Other forms of knowledge are:

  • Scientific knowledge. It is derived from the application of the scientific method. It begins with hypotheses that arise from the observation of reality, in order to demonstrate through experiments what are the laws that govern the universe.
  • Empirical knowledge. It is acquired through direct experience, repetition, or participation. It does not require an approach to the abstract but arises from the observation of the things themselves.
  • Philosophical knowledge. It follows from human thought, in the abstract. It employs various logical methods or formal reasoning, which does not always follow directly from reality, but from the imaginary representation of the real.
  • Intuitive knowledge. It is acquired without formal reasoning. It arises quickly and unconsciously, the result of often inexplicable processes.
  • Religious knowledge. It is linked to the mystical and religious experience. They are knowledge that studies the link between the human being and the divine.

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