Social Constructionism

Vivien Burr, Penny Dick

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Social constructionism proposes that how we understand and perceive the world is a product of how the world is represented or produced through language, and depends upon the culture and times that we live in. Our knowledge and understanding are therefore not absolute or final, but instead are framed by ‘discourses’ which often reflect the ideas of powerful groups in society, acting to disadvantage less powerful groups and individuals. Nonetheless, because discourse is time and culture specific, it can change over time, often producing social transformations. This chapter critiques mainstream psychology from a social constructionism perspective, using research examples to illustrate how some of the ideas that inform mainstream approaches can be interrogated and challenged. It also outlines key features of social constructionist research, using two specific research studies to illustrate these features. The chapter concludes with a brief discussion of recent theoretical trends and issues in social constructionism.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of Critical Social Psychology
EditorsBrendan Gough
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan Ltd.
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781137510181
ISBN (Print)9781137510174
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2017


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