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PHD-DESIGN  February 2008

PHD-DESIGN February 2008

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Subject:

Re: Research Practice and Design

From:

Gavin Melles <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Gavin Melles <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 9 Feb 2008 11:20:52 +1100

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Hello Klaus and listers
I agree Kenneth Gergen can be a little fuzzy at time but fortunately, as Vivian Burr (http://books.google.com.au/books?id=L301_vk1LzQC) and others show, Gergen's version of SC (if in fact it does arrant the critique Glasferled gives it) is neither the only nor the prototypical one. SC really is part of the standard sociological and philosophical conversation (to use James Gee and Richard Rorty's image) about agency and (social) structure. Although it will hardly do to trancher the matter Wikipedia's reference to weak and strong (perhaps Gergen) social constructionism, is relevant

Though social constructionism contains a diverse array of theories and beliefs, it can generally be divided into two camps: Weak social constructionism and strong social constructionism. The two differ mainly in degree, where weak social constructionists tend to see some underlying objective factual elements to reality, and strong social constructionists see everything as, in some way, a social construction. This is not to say that strong social constructionists see the world as ontologically unreal. Rather, they propose that the notions of "real" and "unreal" are themselves social constructs, so that the question of whether anything is "real" is just a matter of social convention.[citation needed] 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_constructionism 

Some other useful sources to see it's practical benefits are
http://hsr.e-contentmanagement.com/archives/vol/6/issue/1/article/287
Social constructionism and its relevance to health policy

Peter Backhouse
Abstract

This paper tracks the development of the social constructionist approach to
medical knowledge, and explores some of its implications for health policy and
medical sociology research. It suggests that the impetus for this approach came
in part from Eliot Freidson's recognition in the 1970s of the social character of
medical knowledge in both its production and its application, and the
difficulties this presented for the conventional conceptual schema in which he
framed the rest of his work. It is suggested that any policy moves to impinge on
medical decision-making in the name of greater efficiency would be preempted
by the strong interest shared by the medical profession and the economic
rationalists in shielding from public exposure the political values hidden
within their respective knowledge bases.

Thus SC has the kind of value other theories, models, stories might have in being practically relevant to focusing on the ideological conditions of knowledge and its use in different contexts. I suppose - Like a good pragmatist - I like weak versions of most theories (but not in my morning coffee)  - and prefer to skip the label if possible. 


Dr Gavin Melles
Lecturer, Research Degree Skills
Faculty of Design
Swinburne University of Technology
Mob (03) 0402927278
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