context definition

The term of context is widely used in our language and allows us to refer to everything that surrounds an event or event, both physically and symbolically, as it is what allows us to interpret and understand a given fact, be it its symbolic context or material.

Meanwhile, the context has been made up of a set of situations, phenomena and circumstances that are combined at a specific time and place in history and that have obvious consequences on the events that take place within their space-time limits, in addition to allow us the effective understanding of the message. Although its definition can become complicated because it is an extremely abstract concept, the central point of this word is that it supposes the specificity of the phenomena since they have been combined in a unique and unrepeatable way to influence what happens in it.

The notion of context is typically associated with the social sciences in which phenomena of a historical, social, economic, psychological or anthropological type cannot be completely isolated from the environment in which they occur or occurred, which is the same as saying that they cannot be understood without taking into account the context in which they occurred. In this sense, risking this possibility of isolated understanding would imply not contemplating all the elements that exert influence on the phenomenon or situation itself, thus achieving a biased or incomplete analysis and in many situations erroneous.

On the other hand, such a situation may not always be present in natural or mathematical sciences in which the elements studied can be analyzed in isolation conditions (such as those that are reproduced in a laboratory).

The circumstances that form each type of context are generally very specific and although they can be repeated in other times or places, it is almost impossible for all of them to be grouped in the same way, that they have the same place or importance as in other cases, and also, that they generate exactly the same results. The context then must be carefully analyzed as a highly specific reality and not comparable to others in which the phenomena that occur are deeply influenced and determined.

The action of contextualizing then implies putting 'in context' a situation that is received in isolation and separated from all those elements that surround it and that influence it. Thus, it is normal to use this phrase when analyzing a source or a document that comes to us in isolation but whose meaning is the result of a specific time and space.

Many events that have occurred throughout the history of humanity could not be understood, explained without their corresponding context, that is, if the context in which they occurred and which in most cases has been the Even the one that has given way to their succession can hardly be understood.

For example, the French Revolution, one of the most transcendent social and political events in history and that generated so many consequences, could not be explained without the corresponding context in which it occurred: with a prevailing monarchical regime that did not coincide due to the rigidity that emanated with a scenario of changes; the emergence of a new social segment such as the bourgeoisie, which held significant economic power but which eluded political rights and then began to demand them more fiercely; the popular classes began to express their popular discontent at their impoverishment and at the excessive spending by the monarchy; the dissemination of the ideas of the Enlightenment that precisely posed the path to a new, more participatory form of government; the economic crisis that resulted from a poor agricultural harvest.

The importance of context in communication

Their analysis is often overlooked but the context is an issue that must always be considered when speaking with another individual because to the cultural differences that may exist between the interlocutors we will also have to add the variants in the same language and uses and customs. For example, in some cultures it is common for people to greet each other with a kiss on the cheek even though they do not know each other, and in others such a fact can be considered overconfident.

Something similar can happen with the language itself, for example, in a certain social class certain words or codes can be used that outside of it and in another class can be offensive or inappropriate.