FQS Debate "Social Constructionism"

In FQS 9(1) we launched a new debate: on social constructionism. In our view, social constructionism is, among other things, a good metatheory for grounding qualitative psychological research. In this sense, a debate on the constructionist perspective—often applied to psychological inquiry—is invaluable for qualitative social research in general.

Social constructionism is part of a psychology in which the challenges of the linguistic and the cultural turn turns are understood and injected into the discipline. In their critical reflection of the discipline's academic mainstream, constructionist psychologists demonstrate that "objective knowledge" is historically and culturally contingent. They articulate what it means to give up culture-centric "universalisms" in an era of globalization and to how to understand psychological phenomena and functions as cultural constructions, not only in the field of academic research and theorizing, but also in various areas of applied psychology. Whereas social constructionism is subject to scholarly debate debates in the English-speaking context, in German (and Austrian, Swiss) psychology the crucial contents and characteristics of a social constructionist psychology are hardly known.

Today various orientations in academic and applied psychology describe themselves as "social constuctionist." Whereas many varieties of constructionism draw on postmodernist and post-structuralist theories, several constructionist writers focus mainly on a rather pragmatic view of language and construction (e.g., Kenneth GERGEN) or on a general theory of dialogical understanding (e.g., John SHOTTER). Discursive psychology often is defined via the specific method of psychological discourse analysis and there are constructionist oriented branches of cultural psychology, as for example the programmatic theory of the dialogical self (Hubert HERMANS and Harry KEMPEN). Writings in the field of critical (social) psychology have substantially coined constructionist theory and given it fresh impetus and new aspects (see, e.g., texts by John CROMBY, Ian PARKER, Valerie WALKERDINE, or Carla WILLIG.

Section Editors had been: Jo Reichertz, Barbara Zielke.

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