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by Andy Lock

eBook Social Constructionism: Sources and Stirrings in Theory and Practice epub
  • ISBN: 0521708354
  • Author: Andy Lock
  • Genre: Health
  • Subcategory: Psychology & Counseling
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (April 30, 2010)
  • Pages: 402 pages
  • ePUB size: 1505 kb
  • FB2 size 1170 kb
  • Formats rtf lrf doc txt


Book · January 2010 with 274 Reads. The main theoretical perspective utilized for this study is social constructionism (Lock & Strong, 2010).

Book · January 2010 with 274 Reads. Cite this publication. Learning, for example, involves more than a transmission of information; it engages people in practical and critical activities (Newman & Holzman, 1997) of making what is knowable and actionable their ow. .

For Gender in Management: An International Journal. Social constructionism: Sources and stirrings in theory and practice’ is now a dog-eared and coffee-stained.

Andy Lock and Tom Strong skilfully situate current approaches to social constructionism within an unbroken .

Andy Lock and Tom Strong skilfully situate current approaches to social constructionism within an unbroken flow of work stretching back into the history of western thought as well as into places where it should develop further. Their work opens up whole new realms for possible empirical inquiries in the future. Summary: From front to back, Social Constructionism: Sources and Stirrings in Theory and Practice is a subjective take on the development of social constructionist theory as it relates to the practice of psychology.

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Andy Lock, Tom Strong. Social Constructionism: Sources and Stirrings in Theory and Practice offers an introduction to the different theorists and schools of thought that have contributed to the development of contemporary social constructionist ideas, charting a course through the ideas that underpin the discipline. From the New Science of Vico in the 18th century, through to Marxist writers, ethnomethodologists and Wittgenstein, ideas as to how socio-cultural processes provide the resources that make us human are traced to the present day.

Keywords: Lock Andy, theory and practice, Tom Strong, social constructionism, Stirrings.

Andy Lock and Tom Strong aim to provoke a wider grasp of an alternative history and tradition that has developed alongside the one emphasised in traditional histories of the social sciences. Cambridge University Press.

Social Constructionism: Sources and Stirrings in Theory and Practice offers an introduction to the different theorists and schools of thought that have contributed to the development of contemporary social constructionist ideas, charting a course through the ideas that underpin the discipline. From the New Science of Vico in the 18th century, through to Marxist writers, ethnomethodologists and Wittgenstein, ideas as to how socio-cultural processes provide the resources that make us human are traced to the present day. Despite constructionists often being criticised as 'relativists', 'activists' and 'anti-establishment' and for making no concrete contributions, their ideas are now being adopted by practically-oriented disciplines such as management consultancy, advertising, therapy, education and nursing. Andy Lock and Tom Strong aim to provoke a wider grasp of an alternative history and tradition that has developed alongside the one emphasised in traditional histories of the social sciences.
Comments: (3)
Tejar
Boy is this a great book. I cannot recommend this book too highly, it's really that good. I bought this book with the intention of becoming better informed; that's why I buy and read many books that are not in my field of specialization. I'm always looking for the most legit, and academically accepted books on topics that interest me, this book has proven to be one of those books. I won't overview the contents of the book, you can click on it and view the table of contents for yourself but I will tell you why I find the book tremendously helpful.

My interest in Social Constructions began with my study and reading of Michel Foucault. As I read Foucault's books I became enamored with the idea that much of what we do and believe is based upon socially constructed systems. I wondered if there were books that dealt with that exclusively, and as I researched I came across this book; what a blessing! Reading this book has introduced me to a litany of new ideas about the world in which I find myself. Some of the ideas are quite complex and require multiple readings but that makes them worth so much more when I catch the vision of what their saying. I've used many of the teachings in this book in my own writings and ideas. This is one of those books that combines so many interesting thinkers of the past that you can spend years studying it. It's been my go to introduction to so many well known thinkers of the past. Spend your money and time on this book and you will not be dissatisfied.
Usic
"It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness." - Karl Marx, 1859

Summary:
From front to back, Social Constructionism: Sources and Stirrings in Theory and Practice is a subjective take on the development of social constructionist theory as it relates to the practice of psychology. Lock and Strong write from the point of view that psychology, as a Cartesian practice, has "missed the boat" in its ignorance of and contemptuousness for the ideas and theorists contained here within. Our authors organize their thoughts in conjunction with the chronological development of social constructionist theory as it coincides with advancement of social science; more specifically behavioral science and mainstream psychology. Each of their chapters, "present readers with a steam of constructionist thought, and the thinkers and cultural contexts from which each stream emerged." Over 30 separate theorists ranging from philosophers to anthropologists, sociologists and, psychologists lend supportive evidence to the overarching theme of this book: that there is, "an intimate link between the social world, the resources for "being" that provides, and the ways of thinking it makes possible by the situational possibilities it provides for ways of life, for common sense, and for unreflective apperceptions of "how things are (p226)."'
Our dialogue opens (Ch. 2 - 3) with the theories of Italian political philosopher Giambattista Vico (1668 - 1744) and the concept of phenomenology as supported by German philosopher and mathematician Edmund Husserl (1859 - 1938), Austrian sociologist Alfred Schutz (1899 - 1959) and French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908 - 1961). Central to the writings of this group is an objection to the Cartesian presumption that humans are predictable and knowable creatures who can be best understood through quantitative measure. In continuing to build the foundation upon which their ideas are assembled, Lock and Strong, with the support of these theorists, stand on the scaffolding of phenomenology. In seeking to account for the fullness of human experience, which cannot in and of itself communicate this experience, one must rely on the varied languages and discourses of human themselves; human reality is constructed within the conduct of conversation. Expanding on this argument, our authors offer phenomenological interpretations of consciousness and intentionality, cognition, action and work, sociality, and the body.
In continuing to build a historical groundwork for social constructionism, our authors look to the concept of hermeneutics and the work of German philosophers Martin Heidegger (1889 - 1976) and Hans-Georg Gadamer (1876 - 1928) and French philosophers Paul Ricoeur (1913 - 2005) and Emmanuel Levinas (1906 - 1995). Drawing on this body of work, the hermeneutic view of understanding is portrayed as consisting of claims to knowledge that are consistently partial and related to historical tradition. Despite this, our hermeneutic understandings and their subsequent actions ground us when we engage with others and/or interact with our physical reality. In developing this understanding with others, language offers "creative resources" we can use in seeking to comprehend as well as transform the experiences that bewilder us. To accomplish this end, an ethic of openness to the foreign and a willingness to work out confusions is necessary for the mutual familiarities necessary to guide us into the future.
Symbols, language, dialogue, communication and how humans use them to create meaning and culture is the theme of the next three chapters (Ch. 5 - 8). Borrowing from the theories of Russian philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin (1895 - 1975) and the Bakhtin Circle, Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky (1896 - 1934), American sociologist George Herbert Mead (1836 - 1931), Estonian biologist Jakob von Uexhull (1864 - 1944) and Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889 - 1951), our authors attempt to further an understanding of the foundations of social constructionism and the potential benefits it may yield in psychological clinical practice. Lock and Strong caution against being "swept along by the ideological content of discourse" and suggest that the job of psychological practitioners is to recognize the requests discourse makes of them and to respond in a manner more in line with their true preferences (p102). Key to Vygotsky's argument is that the contextual basis for meaning and action lies within our relationships and that these relationships give us the tools with which to continue our development (p120). Mead and Uexhull then further Vygotsky's argument to include the link between social action and meaning. Wittgenstein rounds out the discussion of meaning with his proposition that our ways of articulating and understanding our experiences are contextualized in the ways in which people talk (p169).
In combination (Ch. 9 - 10), the ideas of English anthropologist Gregory Bateson (1904 - 1980) and those of sociologists Harold Garfinkel (American, 1917 - 2011), Erving Goffman (Canadian, 1922 - 1982) and Anthony Giddens (British, 1938 - present) complete our authors discussion of the social creation of meaning and ultimately of social reality. Bateson's central concern is discerning behavorial patterns and the way(s) in which they facilitate or impede social relationships. His cybernetic epistemology offers "a way of considering alternative and more comprehensive forms of feedback to influence how levels of interaction persist or could be altered (p178)." Our authors use the ideas of Garfinkel, Goffman and Giddens to advance the view that humans construct together (and sustain), through their exchanges, the varying contextual and cultural structures of social reality.
Lock and Strong's broad account of the sources of the self and its discursive nature require the entirety of chapter 11. Citing the work of Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor (1931 - present), they claim that the long-standing occidental interpretation of the self is just one of many ways of thinking and that further defense of this methodology lacks justification. "If selves...are constructed out of cultural resources, then they are quite different from the kinds of objects that are found in nature: the whole exercise of investigating and classifying human nature through the methods of science becomes futile (p228)." Expanding on this, our authors offer excerpts from German sociologist Norbert Elias's (1897 - 1990) study of European etiquette manuals. Elias's studies, examples of which include the changing etiquette in nose blowing, show a shift in human thinking from a pre-reflective to a reflective activity: suggesting that this exercise of control was due to the emergence of the self. Subsequently, the discursive resources for framing the self begin to surface as a perspective in daily life and in the evolution of theory.
The remainder of our narrative delves further into the discursive nature of the self, discourse analysis, modern day theories and theorists and, the potential utility of their views on human interaction and doing social life. French philosopher Michel Foucault (1926 - 1984) opens these chapters (Ch. 12 - 16) with the notion that selves are manufactured, grounded by the words that enable their reproduction and that there is not and "essential" discoverable self (p252). His belief is that the relationship with the self is possible through the discursive ways of hypothesizing that relationship, along with the ideas of how that relationship might be understood and governed; this occurs in the context of a cultural discourse which provides the outline(s) for what are the culturally pervasive ways of understanding how one "ought to be." Furthering the role of culture in the development of the self, our authors cite American anthropologist Irving Hallowell (1892 - 1974) and his view of the interdependence of self and culture: "our cultural experiences (via their symbols, languages, and practices) furnish us with way to regard ourselves and our experiences (p267)." Borrowing form Hallowell, Lock and Strong also discuss the different orientations of the self that enable humans to act in an intelligible manner in a society structured by culture. Resting on William Labov's (1927 - present) socio-linguistic approach to the differences in language is the group of approaches for researching language use and its differences that make up discourse analysis. These are critical discourse analysis, conversation analysis and the discursive psychology project. Critical discourse analysis provides a macroscopic view of cultural discourse and how it influences social interaction and understanding. Through a more microscopic lens, conversation analysis assists in our understanding of how people use their talk to accomplish various purposes with each other. Of interest to the discursive psychology project is how psychologists and their clients demonstrate their understanding and make use of psychological terms during therapeutic interaction. As a group, these assorted research projects help us to better understand how humans use language in taken-for-granted ways and offer new ways to think about how we communicate. American psychologists Ken Gergen (1935 - present) and his wife, social psychologist Mary Gergen (1938 - present), along with New Zeland-born philosopher and psychologist Rom Harre (1927 - present) and, sociologist John Shotter (1937 - present) comprise the modern-day theorists Lock and Strong credit with the furthering of social constructionism as a useful way to consider the, "collaborate and generative possibilities of professional dialogue (p294)." The majority of the Gergen's chapter is devoted to Ken's critiques of the human science of psychology as they relate to his efforts in moving social constructionist thought to the forefront of psychology's dominant practices. Essential to Gergen's view of the self is the notion that individuality is a complex matter and that one regularly participates in multiple social contexts, all of which have certain influence on the performances and understandings of the self (p303). Gergen also notes the importance of language in articulating the self. "Self-narration is a way of using language to link particular valorized events and attributes to the story of the self (p303)." While Mary Gergen's role is somewhat minimized in this chapter, her key contributions the social constructionist movement are her efforts to expand the qualitative methods of psychology as well as the focus of its research. Rom Harre writes in opposition to the idea that knowledge of the reality, which exists independently of humans, can be gained through empirical investigation and through reconciling language and the objects of its description we can develop a better understanding how things "really are" and subsequently make batter diagnoses of certain psychological afflictions. Instead, Harre proposes that humans DO understand their reality and the meanings of their actions and that accounts they give of that reality should constitute the main data of social psychology. Our authors also cover Harre's positioning theory, emphasizing an understanding of the perceived rights, duties and obligations felt by a client; positions that can be discursive constraints requiring intervention to help clients think, talk and act beyond them. The final key figure in what Lock and Strong term the, "elaboration and legitimation" of social construction in contemporary psychology is John Shotter. His belief is that humans are constantly restructured through their interactions with others and their conduct with the world: we are spontaneous creatures who react to the flow of events and restructure ourselves "on the fly" without even knowing. Consequently, our efforts to understand how knowledge and the self are developed should be directed toward studying the events occurring between people, not within them.
In concluding their narrative, Lock and Strong move from the theory and explanation of social constructionism to suggestions for its application in psychological practice. Their argument asserts that, "What makes things socially real is our ability to articulate and enact them in the language and social practices we share with others. An unshareable reality clearly is problematic, and so is a reality that is beyond human agency to transform (p347)." Social constructionist forms of therapy regard patient issues as stores, drawn from the mainstream of a culture's conversational resources, which they have created about themselves and their situations (p349). The therapist's role is then to help the client find a more desirable story which enables them to reject their problematic situation. The goal is for the patient to externalize the problem in storied form. In so doing, the problem is "linguistically separated" form the self in the hopes that a new, more positive identity can be constructed.

Purpose:
Lock and Strong believe the discipline of behavioral science is heading in the wrong direction. Cookie-cutter educations promoted by the professional societies accrediting the requisite courses, in combination with required, pre-packaged professional development activities have obscured the ideas and theories of the writers contained in this book: ideas and theories our authors feel are beneficial to psychological practice. Founding the discipline solely in Cartesian principles leaves out the intersubjective character of human experience from the formulation of behavioral science theories. Subsequently, the problems of the discipline have been incorrectly posed resulting in the misguided direction of the discipline as a whole. For our authors, these issues have rendered psychology somewhat inadequate as an academic and practical discipline; their concern is to change this. Their goals in writing this book are to (1) outline the latest popular sources rehabilitating the idea that humans do have a meaningful experience of the world and to (2) show the reader where these currents can be found and how to incorporate them into their practices (p5). Their central question is, "If we are not autonomous, encapsulated, information processors, then what are the consequences of the alternative view of who we might be, as socially constructed beings, for how any informed interventions might be carried out?" The purpose of this book is to sort out that answer.
Evaluation:
Fifty pages into this book, Lock, Strong and I were at a stalemate. Due to the complexity of theory and language in the initial chapters, my preliminary reaction to their writing was that of a little girl trying to comprehend the conversation at the "grown-up" table. Persistence however does pay off and the chronological organization of the narrative and subsequent modernization of written language quickly brought about an easier understanding. The authors have expertly placed overarching points, concise codas and explicit themes and the majority of their examples were concise, succinct and written in plain language: they typically saved me from complete ignorance and occasionally made me laugh. Norbert Elias's section, "Becoming Polite" (p234), and the discussion of nose blowing etiquette was a much needed humorous break in the tedium of such a theoretical work. What Lock and Strong have written is a historical account of the development of social construction flowing from its philosophical foundations through the history of symbols and language and how they are used by humans to develop and maintain communication, the self, culture, and society. The true psychological aspect of their work is in their suggestions for the practical application of social constructionist thought for those in the "helping" profession. Had the authors been sociologists, this book could very well have been about using the same tenants in qualitative sociological practice. Mirroring in many ways the feminist movement in sociology; narrative, solution-focused and collaborate language therapies aspire to account for the power imbalance innate in the therapist-patient relationship. The practice of these therapies, in much the same way as feminist sociology, focuses on obtaining the meaning of a patients (or respondents) story through thoughtful understanding of and focus on their story...as told in their own language. For any sociologist wishing to expand the reach of their sociological imagination I recommend this book: the historical account of social constructionism adds the aspects of language and communication to the development of meaning: something I feel is lacking in the majority of theoretical sociological texts. Taking into account the language used by a respondent, with an understanding of how it has been socially constructed will benefit any budding or even seasoned qualitative researcher as they search for meaning in their studies. In summation, I believe that Lock and Strong have succeeded in constructing a complete, well written and clearly organized work, emphasizing the importance of social constructionism to the practice of psychology and ultimately behavioral and social science.
Jogrnd
I needed to learn about social constructionism in my business as a dissertation editor. This book should be subtitled "Everything you didn't know you wanted to know about SC and did not even know how to ask!" The book seems to me to be very well researched, written, and thought out.
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