Social Constructionism posits that a person’s everyday reality is socially constructed from their interactions with other people, within a network of social relations. Specifically, “social constructs” represents the meanings individuals have for, or give to, the various objects and processes in their everyday lives. These meanings are learned from other people within their social networks, or are co-constructed with others, through social interactions. Essentially, social constructs provide meaning for everything a person will either think about, or take action toward, hence they represent what is “real” within a person’s world. To help understand and explore these ideas, this chapter begins by introducing “The Social Construction of Reality” by Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann, which played a significant role in the development of Social Constructionism. A number of key concepts from Berger and Luckmann’s work are discussed, and expanded on to aid understanding of Social Constructionism. These concepts, once established, lead to a discussion of social constructionism and power which, in turn, aids understanding for why the perspective of those with power, can differ to those without. Social Constructionism and its relevance to health are then explored. Finally, this chapter presents a practical method by which Social Constructionism ideas can be used to investigate different groups engaged with a shared reality. Importantly, this method can provide insight into how different groups experience the same shared reality, and help establish the health needs of different groups, especially the needs of those in society, who might otherwise go unheard.
- Social constructionism
- Social reality