Social Constructionist Perspective on Environmental Problems
Social constructionism originated as an attempt to come to terms with the nature of reality. It emerged over thirty years ago and has its origins rooted in sociology and has been associated with qualitative research. Social constructionism is essentially an anti-realist, relativist stance. The influence of social constructionism is a very current issue and an understanding of its core concepts is important in evaluating its impact on the methodology (Robbins, Hintz, & Moore 118). Given its current and profound influence, constructionism needs to be understood so that one can better evaluate the nature and validity of the arguments surrounding its use. The terms constructivism and social constructionism tend to be used interchangeably and assumed under the generic term ‘constructivism’. Constructivism proposes that each individual mentally constructs the world of experience through cognitive processes while social constructionism has more of a social focus rather than an individual one. It is less interested, if at all, in the cognitive processes that accompanies its knowledge (Robbins, Hintz, & Moore 119). Constructionists view truth and knowledge as created, not discovered, by the mind and support the view that being a realist is indeed consistent with being a constructionist. One can believe that concepts are constructed rather than discovered, yet maintain that they correspond to something real in this world. This is not inconsistent with some ideas of scholars and simply those who are environmentally aware. In that reality, it is socially defined. However, this reality refers to the subjective experience of daily life and how the world is understood rather than how it is perceived to the objective reality of the natural world. Most of what is known and most of the knowing that occurs is concerned with trying to make sense of what it means to be human, as opposed to scientific knowledge....
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