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Social constructionism
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Social constructionism

Social constructionism is a school of thought introduced into sociology by Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann with their 1966 book on The Social Construction of Reality. The interest of social constructionism is to discover the ways social reality and social phenomena are constructed. The sociological method of social constructionism is to look at the ways social phenomena are created, institutionalized, and made into tradition by humans. Their focus is on the description of the institutions, the actionss, and so on, not on analyzing causes and effects. Socially constructed reality is seen as an on-going dynamic process; reality is re-produced by people acting on their interpretation and their knowledge of it. It can be seen here that social construction describes subjective, rather than objective, reality - that is, reality as we can percieve it rather than reality as it is, separate from our perceptions.

In the sociology of science, Karin Knorr Cetina and Bruno Latour use the ideas of social constructionism to relate supposedly objective facts to processes of social construction to show that human subjectivity imposes itself on those facts we take to be objective, not the other way around.

Social constructionism is often described as a part of the postmodern movement, and has been influential in the field of cultural studies. Some have attributed the rise of cultural studies (the cultural turn) to social constructionism.

Criticism

Many claim the results of scientific inquiry are disproof of social constructionism's claims. For example, in the debate over the origins of homosexuality, evidence suggesting a biological nature to human sexuality is often seen as refuting claims that sexual variations result from a particular society's view of what sexuality is and should be.

Some also cite the so-called Sokal Affair not only as an argument against postmodern tendencies in science, but also as an aggressive attack on social constructionism as it relates to the hard sciences specifically, because to many people it demonstrated the "social construction of social constructionism".

See also

epistemology -- ethnomethodology -- phenomenology -- social construction -- radical constructionism -- sociology of knowledge -- symbolic interactionism