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 phenomenons are constructed. The sociological method of social constructionism is to look at the ways a social phenomenon is created, institutionalized and made into tradition by humans. Their focus is on the description of the institutions, the actions and so on, not on analysizing 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.

In the sociology of science, Karin Knorr Cetina and Bruno Latour use the ideas of social constructionism to relate seemingly objective facts, as the results a scientist in an institute gets, to processes of social construction.

Social constructionism can be seen as postmodern school of thought. Some would 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, because to many people it demonstrated the "social construction of social constructionism". On the other hand, no sane social constructionist would exclude his own method from the universal processes of social construction of reality, so the idea that social constructionism is constructed, too, can also be seen as a truism.

See also: epistemology, radical constructionism, ethnomethodology, phenomenology, symbolic interactionism, sociology of knowledge

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