The Social Construction Of Reality: Traces And Transformation

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Published In

Social Constructivism As Paradigm?: The Legacy Of The Social Construction Of Reality


Gergen provides a reflection on the intellectual context in which The Social Construction of Reality emerged and the subsequent transformation taking place in assumptions and practices. As he proposes, while the Berger and Luckmann thesis provided a major catalyst to the emerging dialogues, subsequent developments in critical theory, literary and rhetorical theory and the history of science added vital dimensions to understanding. The earlier emphasis on social phenomenology was largely eclipsed by a concern with the linguistic construction of reality; discussions of social structure and individual experience were largely replaced by a focus on the social or dialogic construction of reality. In Gergen’s view, these dialogues are having profound effects on the social sciences. They liberate the professions from the debilitating grip of logical empiricism, they add a concern with the social and political effects of inquiry, they invite a pluralist inclusiveness in forms and functions of inquiry and they encourage innovation in both theory and research methods. As Gergen surmises, the shift to a constructionist consciousness replaces the traditional emphasis on achieving truth through science with a reflective pragmatism. What does social science inquiry contribute to society and the world, and for whom is this a contribution or not? In this context, Gergen argues that one reason for the continuing significance of Berger and Luckmann’s thesis is the metamorphosis of constructionist ideas from a theory of knowledge to a field of shared of practices.

Published By



M. Pfadenhauer and H. Knoblauch

This document is currently not available here.