Re: Social Constructionism

Charles Smith (
Tue, 2 Jun 1998 11:16:49 +0100

At 14:30 2-6-98 +1200, you wrote:
>I am about three-quarters of the way through Vivien Burr's book "An
>Introduction to Social Constructionism." I have two questions of my
>learned colleagues on this list.
>Question 1.
>Are Personal Construct Psychology and Social Constructionism
>incompatible points of view? I find myself beginning to place a foot
>in each camp. I see some specific areas of incompatibility but a
>number of areas of congruence. In your opinion(s) can a person
>comfortably subscribe to both PCP and Social Constructionism
(Question 2 deleted)
>Dr. Robin Hill

I used to worry about this question while studying for a psychology degree.
As a practitioner (change management) I find it difficult to think about one
perspective without the other.

As an example, someone recently said to me: "Of course, if my boss gives me
an order, then I've got to do it". This statement can be analysed in social
constructionist terms - it is dependent on a whole range of social meanings
about hierarchies and authority. On the other hand, I could enquire into the
construing of the speaker of himself as dependent or subservient, and what
that means to him. The speaker is simultaneously construing himself in
hierarchical terms, and, by his statement, producing social meanings.

Individuals have personal constructs, but they are framed in social terms.
Individuals validate these constructs using social meanings. So pcp has to
recognise the social dimension. On the other hand, there isn't a social
meaning that isn't generated by individuals (to validate their constructs)
and being construed by individuals.

Don't sit on the fence. Dismantle it.

Don't put a foot in each camp. Reorganise them into a single camp around
wherever you want to put your feet.


Charles Smith