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Social constructionism

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Social constructionism is a theory or group of theories that seek to explain happenings or phenomena within a given setting. The issues under focus in this article is an attempt to explain the general meaning of given social scenarios, behaviors of individuals and happenings   in the society (Warren, 2004) .it is from these that the term social constructionism arise. The term describes the development of meaning by individuals in regard to various phenomenons. Social constructionism as such attempts defines phenomena with their context socially. Most theorists believe that the varying constructs basically arise due to the interactions of human beings on different avenues which further necessitate the ability to share beliefs culture and other ideas. Humans shape each others perceptions and beliefs as they interact. Theorists like Gergen, Semin and Burr in their 90’s analysis of the subject, tackled these assumptions in highlighting the aspect of social constructionism that included; the social level of a society and the language of a communication used to convey ideas. The other assumption that they took into account is the implications of the constructed or ‘built’ explanations of meanings thereafter (Katerin et al, 2004). Others like Marx and Warren in the late nineties tended to highlight the role of the individual in the construction of the traits. This essay is a reaction to the different ways two articles tackle this issue and the similarities between the two articles.  

The first article, “Two Practices, One Perspective, Many Constructs: On The Implications Of Social Constructionism On Scientific Research And Therapy, “by Katerin et al (2004) aims at elaborating the need to reconsider how the scientific research should be carried out. The article generally starts with a tone of criticism questioning the scientific analysis of various aspects of social life. Katerin et al (2004) first tackle the basics of social constructionism. Their article is mostly based on the perspectives of Burr and Gergen and their works during the 90’s. Here, social constructionism is seen not as a question-answer theory rather it has a philosophical explanation that encompasses several principles highlighted by the theorists. It also approaches the social constructionism based on three assumptions. First it’s a social occurrence, meaning, that people stay and share in a given setting with a wide range of circumstances and conditions, hence try to come up with stories and other explanatory materials. Second is the aspect of ‘building’ a given construct which is the act of developing explanation for a phenomenon of life and thirdly is the aspect of language which is the main medium of exchange of ideas and interaction. However, the main criticism to this approach is it subjectivity to relativism. People have differences that make them tend to perceive issues defiantly. Individual relativism is involves each one of us justifies their way of thinking and general lifestyle; this makes the current argument unstable. it can also be considers to be radical individualism where everybody believes that their opinion is the truth.

Contrary to these, the second article, “Construing Constructionism: Some Reflections On The Tension Between PCP And Social Constructionism,” by Bill Warren seeks to bring together arguments by other scholars and theorists that have a different perspective regarding the aspect of social constructionism (Warren, 2004).  Warren (2009) attempts to synthesize the individual constructs unlike Katerin et al who focuses on the social construct. The perspective has support by theorists such as Karl Marx who highlights individuality and how one can conceive with ideals that have an importance to him as the brainchild of the ideas. As Warren (2004) notes, Max explained the problems regarding the social constructs which are not in individual constructivism that include the family lineage or heredity. in this regard Max was basically referring to the borrowed or adapted views by the individual from the family unit down from generation, for instance, people follow a certain religion due to it being passed on by parents.

In conclusion it can be seen that in as much as we may try to replace social constuctionism with individual constructivism, we may find it impossible hence they compliment. Both articles stress the fact that individuals will always want to explain phenomena but must be critical on what society already has.

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