Recent attempts to challenge the primacy of reason—and its realization in foundationalist accounts of knowledge and cognitive formulations of human action—have focused on processes of discourse. Drawing from social and literary accounts of discourse, Kenneth Gergen considers these challenges to empiricism under the banner of “social construction.” His aim is to outline the major elements of a social constructionist perspective, to illustrate its potential, and to initiate debate on the future of constructionist pursuits in the human sciences generally and psychology in particular.
Critics and supporters alike of social constructionism will find Gergen’s volume an important contribution. It provides a cogent and powerfully rendered statement of the assumptions and claimed potentials of social constructionism...Realities and Relationships will likely emerge as a classic that will be cited widely for some time to come.
A true landmark in the development of constructionist perspectives, Gergen’s book is a powerful tour de force through the existing mindscape of psychology and the other human sciences. It is by far the best exposure of readers to the intellectual world of constructionism in the literature so far.
Kenneth J. Gergen is Senior Research Professor of Psychology at Swarthmore College. He is the author of The Saturated Self and Toward Transformation in Social Knowledge.