Social constructionism

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"Unmasking" accounts of natural science, which aim to show that its pretensions to deliver the truth are unfounded, because of social forces that control its activities, ... depend on the remarkable assumption that the sociology of knowledge is in a better position to deliver truth about science than science is to deliver truth about the world. ~ Bernard Williams

Social constructionism is a theory of knowledge that examines the development of jointly constructed understandings of the world that form the basis for shared assumptions about reality.

Quotes[edit]

  • A fundamental problem in such studies stems from the long tradition that has regarded artistic productions as social facts. by regarding such productions as social facts the analyst is relieved of the burden of demonstrating what meanings these productions have for the artist and his audience. It is too frequently assumed that such meanings can be identified by a capable analyst, independent of the interpretations brought to such works by the artist or his audiences. In my judgement artist productions must be seen as interactional creations; the meanings of which arise out of the interactions directed to them by the artist and his audience.
  • Those who say that all historical accounts are ideological constructs (which is one version of the idea that there is really no historical truth) rely on some story which must itself claim historical truth. They show that supposedly "objective" historians have tendentiously told their stories from some particular perspective; they describe, for example, the biasses that have gone into constructing various histories of the United States. Such an account, as a particular piece of history, may very well be true, but truth is a virtue that is embarrassingly unhelpful to a critic who wants not just to unmask past historians of America but to tell us that at the end of the line there is no historical truth. It is remarkable how complacent some "deconstructive" histories are about the status of the history that they deploy themselves.
  • A further turn is to be found in some "unmasking" accounts of natural science, which aim to show that its pretensions to deliver the truth are unfounded, because of social forces that control its activities. Unlike the case of history, these do not use truths of the same kind; they do not apply science to the criticism of science. They apply the social sciences, and typically depend on the remarkable assumption that the sociology of knowledge is in a better position to deliver truth about science than science is to deliver truth about the world.

External links[edit]

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