Resent reply to Jim Mancuso's posting
Mon, 09 Oct 1995 20:30:52 +0800

From: HKUCC::BLOWERS 9-OCT-1995 18:41:43.60
To: IN%""
Subj: RE: Introduction

James Mancuso has written of his bewilderment at social
constructionists harping at personal construct scientists not
adequately accounting in their scheme for the effects of social
forces when their is evidence to the contrary in a small but
significant PCP literature.

The social constructionists' gripe, as I understand it, has more
to do with the way psychologists in general (and possibly some
PCP writers in particular) tend to construe "the social" as
emanating solely from individual constructions, as though it were
a vacuum waiting to be filled by individual initiative and

Given that most of our construing is linguistically based, and
that we are, from an early age, recruited into language i.e. it
socially pre-exists us, it seems legitimate to consider social
forces upon language independent of individual language users
particular needs.

Thus, while there is an issue of how it comes about that
individuals not only take to language, but, from a PCP vantage,
take to specific terms for their immediate needs (to
differentiate themselves from others, take on an identity,
efficiently predict their environment etc.) so there is a
separate but nonetheless important issue of how the available
language from which the individual chooses its terms shifts under
social forces.

I was thinking here of how, twenty years ago, it would have been
the easiest thing in the world for me to have said in the above
that the individual chooses *his* terms, while now, that same
construing must be obliged to be wary of a gender neutral term in
this context.

This example, evoked to explicate Jim's frustration, contains
what I believe is the distinction that social constructionists
insist upon, and that, aside from this, they are remarkably
sympathetic to PCP.

Geoffrey Blowers
Department of Psychology
University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong