Social constructionism  

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"The way that only certain activities are classified today as art is a social construction. The art history book The Invention of Art (2003), referencing "The Modern System of the Arts" (1951) by Paul Oskar Kristeller, finds evidence that the older system of the arts before our modern system (fine art) held art to be any skilled human activity i.e. Ancient Greek society did not possess the term art but techne. Techne can be understood neither as art or craft, the reason being that the distinctions of art and craft are historical products that came later on in human history. Techne included painting, sculpting and music but also; cooking, medicine, horsemanship, geometry, carpentry, prophecy, and farming etc." --Sholem Stein

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Social constructionism or the social construction of reality (also social concept) is a theory of knowledge in sociology and communication theory that examines the development of jointly constructed understandings of the world that form the basis for shared assumptions about reality. The theory centers on the notions that human beings rationalize their experience by creating models of the social world and share and reify these models through language.

Origins

In terms of background, social constructionism is rooted in "symbolic interactionism" and "phenomenology." With Berger and Luckmann The Social Construction of Reality published in 1966, this concept found its hold. More than four decades later, a sizable number of theory and research pledged to the basic tenet that people "make their social and cultural worlds at the same time these worlds make them." It is a viewpoint that uproots social processes "simultaneously playful and serious, by which reality is both revealed and concealed, created and destroyed by our activities." It provides a substitute to the "Western intellectual tradition" where the researcher "earnestly seeks certainty in a representation of reality by means of propositions."

In social constructionist terms, "taken-for-granted realities" are cultivated from "interactions between and among social agents;" furthermore, reality is not some objective truth "waiting to be uncovered through positivist scientific inquiry." Rather, there can be "multiple realities that compete for truth and legitimacy." Social constructionism understands the "fundamental role of language and communication" and this understanding has "contributed to the linguistic turn" and more recently the "turn to discourse theory." The majority of social constructionists abide by the belief that "language does not mirror reality; rather, it constitutes [creates] it."

A broad definition of social constructionism has its supporters and critics in the organizational sciences. A constructionist approach to various organizational and managerial phenomena appear to be more commonplace and on the rise.

Andy Lock and Tom Strong trace some of the fundamental tenets of social constructionism back to the work of the 18th century Italian political philosopher, rhetorician, historian, and jurist Giambattista Vico.

Berger and Luckmann give credit to Max Scheler as a large influence as he created the idea of Sociology of knowledge which influenced social construction theory.

According to Lock and Strong, other influential thinkers whose work has affected the development of social constructionism are: Edmund Husserl, Alfred Schutz, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Martin Heidegger, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Paul Ricoeur, Jürgen Habermas, Emmanuel Levinas, Mikhail Bakhtin, Valentin Volosinov, Lev Vygotsky, George Herbert Mead, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Gregory Bateson, Harold Garfinkel, Erving Goffman, Anthony Giddens, Michel Foucault, Ken Gergen, Mary Gergen, Rom Harre, and John Shotter.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Social constructionism" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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