social constructionist psychology

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An approach to social psychology that seeks to study the ways in which people and groups create and institutionalize social phenomena by constructing their perceived reality. Socially constructed reality is interpreted as a continuous, dynamic process, with reality emerging from people's interpretations. This approach became influential in psychology after the US psychologist Kenneth J(ay) Gergen (born 1934) published a controversial article entitled ‘Social Psychology as History’ in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 1973. Gergen argued that social psychology produces knowledge that alters the very phenomena that it studies and that although its methods are scientific in character, its theories are primarily reflections of contemporary history. Social constructionist psychology arose from the dramaturgical approach to self-presentation of the Canadian-born US sociologist Erving Goffman (1922–82) in his influential book The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1959) and the social constructivism introduced by the Austrian-born US sociologist Peter Ludwig Berger (born 1929) and the Yugoslav-born US sociologist Thomas Luckmann (born 1927) in their influential book The Social Construction of Reality (1966). See also narrative psychology.

Subjects: Psychology.

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