Re: Resent reply to Jim Mancuso's posting

Rue L. Cromwell (cromwell@KUHUB.CC.UKANS.EDU)
Mon, 09 Oct 1995 17:35:20 -0400 (EDT)

>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

If true, this is a good example of the philosophical error of
reductionism--albeit not physiological or biological reductionism.

>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.

This position verges on the philosophical error of "expansionism," i.e., the
inverse of reductionism, in that one level or focus of convenience
(individual) must be excluded in favor of another more molar level of
description (social).

Both of these views may be contrasted to the view that whatever predicts
best predicts best--and sometimes this is achieved by cutting across
different levels of description.


Rue L. Cromwell

>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

Rue L. Cromwell