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Contemporary Social Constructionism

Contemporary Social Constructionism: Key Themes

Darin Weinberg
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 204
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  • Book Info
    Contemporary Social Constructionism
    Book Description:

    InContemporary Social Constructionism, Darin Weinberg provides a detailed, critical overview of the key themes of this school of thought, which explains how phenomena and ways of thinking develop in their social contexts. Weinberg traces the multiple roots of social constructionism, and shows how it has been used, critiqued, and refined within the social and human sciences.

    Contemporary Social Constructionismilluminates how constructionist social science developed in relation to positivism, critical and hermeneutic philosophy, and feminism and then goes on to distinguish the concept from postmodernism and deconstructionism. In addition, Weinberg shows how social constructionists have contributed to our understanding of biology, the body, self-knowledge, and social problems.

    The result is a contemporary statement of social constructionism that shores up its scientific veracity and demonstrates its analytic power, promise, and influence. The book concludes with a look toward the future of the concept and its use.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0926-3
    Subjects: Sociology, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  5. 1 What Is Social Constructionism?
    (pp. 1-22)

    Few terms in social theory ignite controversy like the term “social constructionism.”¹ While embraced as a creed by scholars working throughout the human sciences, it is also the focus of some of the most passionate criticism one is likely to find in the academy. some of this criticism is levied from outside the social sciences and is based largely on caricature and misunderstanding (Gross and Levitt 1994; Sokal and Bricmont 1998). But much of it also comes from social scientists who fear that social constructionism threatens the very foundations of their craft (Boudon 2004). I do not share this fear,...

  6. 2 The Philosophical Foundations of Social Constructionism
    (pp. 23-59)

    A chapter on the philosophical foundations of social constructionism may strike some as more than just a little bit ironic. Social constructionists are usually noted not for any particular philosophical pedigree but for a steadfast refusal to philosophically privilege knowledge of any kind, including our own. it is therefore tempting to organize this chapter as a statement of social constructionism’s thoroughly anti-philosophical stance and its rejection of the very idea of philosophical foundations. However, I think this temptation should be resisted. It should be resisted in the first instance because constructionist research always has been, and will very likely continue...

  7. 3 Social Constructionism contra Deconstructionism and Postmodernism
    (pp. 60-80)

    In Chapter 1, I provided a synoptic catalogue of the research that has contributed most to the establishment and development of social constructionism in the social sciences. Chapter 2 expanded the scope of discussion beyond the social sciences and into a broader consideration of the variety of philosophical schools of thought that have either provoked or informed social constructionist arguments over the years. Both chapters broadly defined social constructionist studies as those that displace fixed, universalistic, or sociohistorically invariant conceptions of things with more fluid, particularistic or sociohistorically situated conceptions of them. although I am committed to a vision of...

  8. 4 Social Constructionism and the Body
    (pp. 81-100)

    Let me begin by noting that this chapter is not a comprehensive survey of social constructionist studies of the human body. I must confess such a chapter would be well beyond the scope of my acquaintance with the literature. instead, it is intended to fulfill the more particular task of examining what social constructionists have said and ought to say in reply to the question “What is the body?” it is to reflect critically on the epistemic consequences of adopting a social constructionist perspective on the body. Those social constructionists who have presumed to conduct research on this topic have...

  9. 5 The Social Construction of Self-Knowledge
    (pp. 101-112)

    The social constructionist approach for some time has provided a radical alternative to both conventional philosophical and psychological orientations to the nature of the human self and self-knowledge. By demonstrating the extent to which the self is a historically, culturally, and, indeed, interactionally contingent set of phenomena, social constructionist studies have cast considerable doubt on the universality of older conceptions of the self as the singular, bounded, and unified source of all human deliberation and volition (Burr 2003; Cahill 1998; Callero 2003; Gergen 2009; Holstein and Gubrium 2000). However, despite providing major critical advances over mainstream modernist conceptions of the...

  10. 6 The Social Construction of Social Problems
    (pp. 113-133)

    This chapter moves on from the social construction of our external and internal, material and immaterial worlds to consider in depth the contribution social constructionism might make to critical theory—that is, those forms of social thought directly concerned not only with understanding the social world but also with critiquing it in the interest of progressive social change. It does so through an examination of the social construction of social problems. As is well known, John Kitsuse played a prominent and indispensable role in both founding and advancing the social constructionist approach to social problems. He did so in explicit...

  11. 7 The Way Forward for Social Constructionism
    (pp. 134-156)

    Throughout this book, I have argued against the view that social constructionism is antiscientific. Contrary to those who see it as fundamentally at odds with the objectivist aspirations of the social sciences (Abbott 2001), social constructionism is better under-stood as the school of thought most resolutely committed to the far-reaching promise of the social sciences and to demonstrating their epistemic value over an ever expanding range of research domains. Seen in this light, the rise and refinement of social constructionism provides evidence of the continuing maturation of the social sciences. This maturation has followed a path from a fledgling insecurity...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 157-166)
  13. References
    (pp. 167-184)
  14. Index
    (pp. 185-195)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 196-196)