A critical overview of scholarship in social constructionism
Contemporary Social Constructionism
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Darin Weinberg provides a detailed, critical overview of the key themes of social constructionism, which explains how phenomena and ways of thinking develop in their social contexts. Weinberg traces the multiple roots of social constructionism, and shows how it has been used, critiqued, and refined within the social and human sciences.
Contemporary Social Constructionism illuminates how constructionist social science developed in relation to positivism, critical and hermeneutic philosophy, and feminism and then goes on to distinguish the concept from postmodernism and deconstructionism. In addition, Weinberg shows how social constructionists have contributed to our understanding of biology, the body, self-knowledge, and social problems.
The result is a contemporary statement of social constructionism that shores up its scientific veracity and demonstrates its analytic power, promise, and influence. The book concludes with a look toward the future of the concept and its use.
"Weinberg provides a sophisticated and comprehensive outline of the philosophical, epistemological, and historical underpinnings of social constructionism. This book is essential for anyone working in the constructionist paradigm or interested in it more generally—or for anyone setting out to critique it. It should be required reading for any graduate sociology course that takes social constructionism to heart. Contemporary Social Constructionism is the best theoretical/philosophical discussion of constructionism that I have read. Weinberg does an unprecedented service to the discipline."
"Darin Weinberg has written the definitive book on social constructionism.... This fine book offers an insightful chapter on the philosophical ancestors of social constructionist argument and a review of foundationalism in philosophy and its critique, from Descartes to poststructuralism…. The book offers a review of the connections between social constructionist argument and studies of the body… [and] a useful historical review of US sociology and social construction’s place and promise in it."
"Weinberg...ably cover[s] topic such as the body, identity and social problems. However, the main thrust of the book is a defense of social constructionism (hereafter SocCon) against some common criticisms and an argument for a specific understanding of the term…. Weinberg provides a very useful outline of the development of this perspective, linking it to the sociology of knowledge and charting its trajectory from early statements of the classical social theorists, through Mannheim, critical theory, and phenomenological sociologies, to Berger and Luckmann’s coinage of the term…. Weinberg brings in some philosophical heavyweights, providing an admirably concise account of SocCon’s epistemological-cred in post-Wittgensteinian philosophy of science, hermeneutics and standpoint theory, while countering the intellectual laziness that conflates it with deconstructionism and postmodernism."
Darin Weinberg is a Reader in the Department of Sociology at Cambridge University and a Fellow of King's College, Cambridge. He authored Of Others Inside: Insanity, Addiction, and Belonging in America (Temple), which won the Melvin Pollner Prize in Ethnomethodology.