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Background knowledge as used in ethnomethodology refers to commonsense reasoning. Members of society, and sociologists, use background knowledge of culture and social structure as an unstated source of guidance in their reasoning. Commonsense reasoning is also referred to as mundane reasoning.
Commonsense reasoning is a term used by ethnomethodologists, derived from Alfred Schutz, referring to the practical or everyday reasoning used by members of society to create and sustain a sense of social reality as being objective, factual, predictable and external to themselves.
Background knowledge or prior knowledge is quite simply what someone already knows about a subject, and that this background knowledge will help him gain new information. Since the objectivity of the world as a practical accomplishment is the focus of ethnomethodology this kind of reasoning is a primary topic of investigation.
People bring diverse bits of background knowledge to every subsequent experience add new information to old. Background knowledge is the basic component in learning because it helps us make sense of new ideas and experiences. Background knowledge is also information that is needed to understand a situation or problem.