As discussed under positivism and postposivitism, social constructionism derives from the view of all language as sets of social agreed upon meanings - including the language of science. From a social constructionist perspective these meanings have very real consequences for how we perceive and interact with the world around us. Thus socially constructed meanings come to shape our perceptions and from these we begin to act in ways that reinforce (and recreate?) our previously socially constructed meanings. An example of this is the difference in map projections, discussed below.

Another example raised by Gergen in his discussion of social constructionism in psychology (below) are the metaphors we use. The article below discusses some concrete examples of how certain metaphores have shaped our concepts of development and offers some alternatives. As your read the article reflect on the following questions, which will form the basis of our in-class epistemological discussions and activity's on Tuesday.
Questions for Reflection:
  1. What metaphors are explicit or implicit in your current theory of human development?
  2. How do they shape ideas of development within that theory?
  3. Drawing from the article above, can you propose any changes to the metaphors? What changes would you make? Why? How would they lead us to think differently about (a) development in general and (b) the focus area of your current developmental theory?


In the article below, psychologist Kenneth Gergen discusses key points of social constructionism and how they relate to the field of psychology. This piece will take a careful reading, perhaps more than one reading. As you read it reflect on the following questions, which will form the basis of our in-class epistemological discussions and activities.
Questions for Reflection:
  1. Gergen discusses issues regarding our understanding of key concepts or constructs in psychology such as anger, psychological disorders, altruism, etc. He also proposes alternative understandings from a social constructionist perspective. Picking one or more of these constructs that relates to the theory of human development that you are currently exploring, what are the implications for this shift in understandings for your theory of development? In what ways would it change the theory? Try to generate specific examples for class consideration.
  2. Gergen discusses issues with key methodological in psychology, such as validity, truth, and objectivity. Reflect carefully on the implications of these challenges for how the field of psychology would conduct meaningful inquiries. What might this revised inquiry look like? What would be implications for your current theory? Try to generate specific examples for class consideration.



For a humorous, but also serious and important look at abstract concepts, their existence, maintenance, and implications check out Terry Pratchett's discussion of justice, mercy and duty via this Hogfather clip.


Now got back and rethink your answers to the questions above. Think of this not only in terms of the concepts study, but also in methodological terms.

In the article, Gergen discusses the two perspectives of exogenic and endogenic, along with the often overlapping views of empiricist and rationalist. A quick view of empiricism and rationalism are offered below to help with these ideas. Looking at these two different views, come to class prepared to discuss:
  1. Do you think your developmental theory is more empiricist or rationalist? What parts of it would support your assessment?

Empiricists.jpg





Rationalists.jpg


Final Question for Reflection and class discussion:
  1. Do you think your developmental theory is more positivist, postpositivst or social constructionist. What parts of it would support your assessment?