Social Constructionist Psychology: A Critical Analysis of Theory and Practice

Social Constructionist Psychology: A Critical Analysis of Theory and Practice

Social Constructionist Psychology: A Critical Analysis of Theory and Practice

Social Constructionist Psychology: A Critical Analysis of Theory and Practice


• How can ideas about the social construction of reality be reconciled with the material and embodied aspects of our being?

• In what ways can a realist framework inform social constructionist research?

• What are the limits of social constructionism?

This accessible text draws together for the first time a wide range of emerging issues, ideas and discussions in constructionist psychology. It shows how these issues are relevant to everyday life, using carefully-chosen examples to illustrate its arguments, and provides a coherent and challenging introduction to the field.
The book explores the growing conviction that dominant 'discursive' trends in social constructionism - which deal with the analysis of language and discourse to the exclusion of the material world, embodiment, personal-social history, and power - are inadequate or incomplete and risk preventing social constructionism from maturing into a viable and coherent body of theory, method and practice. In highlighting what are seen as deficiencies in current constructionist approaches, it inevitably takes a somewhat critical stance. However, the contributing authors are committed to a constructionist analysis of the human condition - into which they seek to reintegrate the material and embodied aspects of our nature. As a result, the completion of social constructionism is brought a step closer and its continued importance is underlined.


Recent years have seen a transformation in the social sciences and in the language that researchers use to make sense of action and experience. This transformation has also opened up a space in academic institutions for reflexive questioning about what that language does in the world. Critical research on discourse, text and the social construction of things that were once taken for granted has inspired work across the disciplines, including cultural studies, psychology, sociology and human geography. It is now time to take stock of what we have accomplished and where we are going with this work, and so these three books review social constructionist perspectives in order to explore new ground creatively.

We accomplish three things: produce a clear theoretical overview of social constructionist frameworks; move our understanding of textuality beyond language; and embed analysis of discourse in an account of practice. There is a different emphasis in each book: Nightingale and Cromby's Social Constructionist Psychology surveys existing work and gathers together critical reflections on the conditions and limits of research on language; Parker and the Bolton Discourse Network's Critical Textwork elaborates and extends the compass of research to many kinds of textual domain; and Willig's Applied Discourse Analysis consistently and provocatively asks through a range of examples how such research can be made useful.

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