A Field Guide to Social Construction



A wide range of discussions throughout the humanities and social sciences include claims that various phenomena are “socially constructed.” Many academics associate “social constructionism” with the so-called “science wars” in which social constructionism is identified with some sort of radical anti-realism about reality in general, or the findings of science in particular. But the move to radical anti-realism is only one way to develop the central idea of constructionism – that human decision and human culture exert profound and often unnoticed influence – and much of this work remains interesting and provocative within a broadly naturalist and realist framework. Here the author reviews and explores a variety of constructionist claims, including the plausible suggestion that social constructionist hypotheses have special purchase in discussions of human kinds.