In terms of background, social constructionism is rooted in "symbolic interactionism" and "phenomenology."[3][4] With Berger and Luckman's The Social Construction of Realitypublished 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."[4] 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."[4] It provides a substitute to the "Western intellectual tradition" where the researcher "earnestly seeks certainty in a representation of reality by means of propositions."[4]

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."[4] Rather, there can be "multiple realities that compete for truth and legitimacy."[4] 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."[4][5] The majority of social constructionists abide by the belief that "language does not mirror reality; rather, it constitutes [creates] it."[4]

A broad definition of social constructionism has its supporters and critics in the organizational sciences.[4] A constructionist approach to various organizational and managerial phenomena appear to be more commonplace and on the rise.[4]

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.[6]

© Georgina Rowlands, all rights reserved