A Constructionist Conversation With Positioning Theory

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Published In

The Second Cognitive Revolution: A Tribute To Rom Harré


One might characterize the conception of “social science” as in a continuous state of evolution. Possibly resulting from the pervasive spirit of revolution in the 1960s, the speed of evolution was markedly intensified. Although a seasoned experimental social psychologist, I began as well to reflect on assumptions central to my discipline. In 1973 I published a highly critical and controversial critique that thrust me to the margins of my discipline. It was thus with great interest that I discovered Harré and Secord’s volume, The explanation of social behaviour. They too were challenging mainstream assumptions of social psychology. And in certain respects, their account of social behavior—as rooted in cultural and historical circumstances—was similar to my own. Such an account flew in the face of the experimental tradition, and its assumption of behavior as determined by fundamental laws of psychological functioning. My delight in Harré’s writing later blossomed into a relationship—both personal and intellectual. It is a relationship of over 40 years duration, one that I have both enjoyed and cherished. And, while there have been significant theoretical tensions over the decades, Rom Harré has served as one of the most significant intellectual inspirations and catalysts of my career. The present offering serves as but a token of my appreciation.


Social psychology, Development of social constructionism, Realism

Published By



B. A. Christensen

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