Re: Social Constructionism

Tim A. Connor (
Tue, 2 Jun 1998 22:18:50 -0700 (PDT)

On Tue, 2 Jun 1998 wrote:

> I disagree with statements made by others that social constructionists
> need to adopt PCP methodologies, or that social constructionist methodology
> is weak. As powerful as grid technology is, grids are often used to
> extract meaning systems of individuals in an interview context. This is
> good, but it is not the same as examining the rich meanings that are
> produced in actual on-line social dialogue using language. Discourse
> analysis is a rich and often sophisticated process that is not inferior
> to PCP technique...

To clarify--by methodology I didn't mean the grid (which I consider
technique, a subordinate construct to method). I meant that PCP has an
established set of quite operational principles (e.g., that one
understands behavior in terms of the anticipations it embodies; that
choices are conceptualized in terms of bipolar alternatives; that a
relationship is understood in terms of commonality and sociality) that I
find no equivalent to in social constructionism. Discourse analysis can
be very compelling, and I don't dismiss it, but yes, I do think it is less
rigorous than PCP methods (of which grid technique is only one

On the other hand, social constructionism has pointed to a number of areas
that PCP has to some extent neglected, principally symbolic systems such
as language, and the way construing is conditioned by them. PCP certainly
can learn from social constructionist theorizing about these matters, but
I do believe it will ultimately lead to better ways of using conceptual
tools already latent in PCP rather than a merging of the two perspectives.
I think PCP can accomodate social elements more easily than social
constructionism can accomodate such things as individual agency and