H. Russell Bernard (2002:3) discusses the differences in social science
about the nature of our inquiry (also known as epistemology). He says
that some believe "that reality
is constructed uniquely by each person (the constructivist view)
and those of us who start from the principle that external reality awaits
our discovery through a series of increasingly good approximations to the
truth (the positivist view).
While the perspectives on the nature of social science epistemology
methods for gathering and analyzing data tend to be shared. The methods
include both quantitative and qualitative techniques.
The premises of constructivism as an epistemology are:
- Knowledge is constructed, not transmitted.
- Prior knowledge impacts the learning process.
- Initial understanding is local, not global.
- Building useful knowledge structures requires
effortful and purposeful activity.
For background go to the University of
Massachusetts Physics Education Research Group
- There are always multiple meanings for every word, symbol or
- Meanings are constantly changing over time, across contexts.
- Language creates meaning, maintains meaning, reproduces meaning.
- At any one moment in time, a dominant, often taken for granted
- Taken together, these meanings, form systems of meaning, which we
- The health and well-being of every society depends fundamentally
on its systems of cultural production.
are found for:
Social Construction Examples
- The Paul Robeson
video Paul Robeson: Here I Stand (1999) shows the change in how he
was socially constructed by the media in his support of the US fight
against facism and
in his opposition to US postwar slowness in dismanteling racism.
- The categories San, Bushman
as quintessential aboriginal
hunters and gathers, foragers, which "function to illuminate and
. . . Euraomaerica's symbolic reconstruction of its own ontology"
- The social constructions of
Samoan culture in
- What does it mean to be a fisherman's wife. See The Lives of
- Bernard, H. Russell. 2002. Research Methods in Anthropology:
Qualitative and Quantitative Methods, Altamira Press, Walnut Creek, CA.
- Berger, Peter L. and Thomas Luckmann. 1990.
The social construction of reality: a treatise in the sociology of
knowledge. Anchor Books, New York, NY.
- Searle, John R. 1995. The Construction
Press, New York
Updated:Tuesday, 02-Nov-2004 20:08:00 PST