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Social Construction

  1. Kenneth J. Gergen

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0888

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Gergen, K. J. 2010. Social Construction. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–3.

Author Information

  1. Swarthmore College

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


The phrase social construction refers to a tradition of scholarship that traces the origin of knowledge, meaning, or understanding to human relationships. The term constructivism is sometimes used interchangeably, but scholarship associated with constructivism tends to trace the origin of people's constructions of the world to processes inherent in the individual mind, as opposed to human relationships. Although one may trace early roots of social construct to Vico, Nietzsche, and Dewey, scholars often view Berger and Luckmann's 1966 volume, The Social Construction of Reality, as the landmark work. Yet, because of its being lodged in social phenomenology, this work has largely been eclipsed by more recent scholarly developments. One may locate the primary stimulants to the more recent development of social constructionist thought in at least three quite independent movements. The convergence of these movements provides the basis for social constructionist inquiry today.


  • social construction;
  • constructivism;
  • ideology critique;
  • qualitative methods;
  • discourse study