Social Constructionism (6): Shaping a worldview of doubt and uncertainty



By Rick Mingerink - Posted at Reformed Free Publishing Association:

In my reading, I’m usually not attracted to articles written in a series. For starters, I want the option of reading everything the author has to say in one sitting. Secondly, unless the author can produce new installments on a timely basis, I don’t have the patience to wait four months before I read the next article. This lamentably leads me to my opening point: I’ve done everything in this series of posts that I dislike as a reader. Mea Culpa.

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In the last post, I wrote about the difficulty in defining social constructionism. It doesn’t package well. Frankly, very little in postmodernism packages well. But we can build a framework for understanding. For that, I turned to Vivien Burr’s four key assumptions of that which social constructionism is built upon.[1]
  1. A critical stance toward taken-for-granted knowledge.
  2. Historical and cultural specificity (i.e., truth is relative to time and place).
  3. Knowledge is sustained by social processes.
  4. Knowledge and social action go together.

I will turn to the first assumption in this post.

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Social constructionism takes a critical stance toward taken-for-granted knowledge. This phrase “taken-for-grantedknowledge” may not sit well with you, but it simply refers to a body of knowledge that many in society hold to be true without deliberate or intentional acceptance. For example, there are two genders in humans: male and female. Most people in this world acknowledge this to be true.[2] Therefore, the knowledge that there are two genders (male and female) would fall into the artificial bracket of “taken-for-granted” knowledge.

Social constructionism challenges this. Intentionally so. It does this by sowing the seeds of doubt over many established social norms which find their roots in creation ordinances. In the process, the idea of truth itself is obliterated.

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