Social constructionism, as it has been taken up by psychology and social psychology, is the focus of this book, and my aim is to introduce the reader to some of its major features, while also elaborating upon the implications it holds for how we are to understand human beings, and for the discipline of psychology itself.
Social constructionism is a term that is used almost exclusively by psychologists. As Meil, Phoenix and Thomas in 2002 points out, many of its basic assumptions are actually fundamental to one of its disciplinary cousins, sociology, and it is a measure of the unhelpful separation of the disciplines of sociology and psychology since the early 20th century that psychologists are only just 'discovering' social constructionist ideas. There is no single description, which would be adequate for all the different kinds of writers whom I shall refer to as social constructionist. This is because, although different writers may share some characteristics with others, there isn't really anything that they all have in common. What links them all together is a kind of 'family resemblance'. Members of the same family differ in the family characteristics that they share. There is no one characteristic borne by all members of a family, but there are enough recurrent features shared amongst different family members to identify the people as basically belonging to the same family group. This is the model that shall adopt for social constructionism. There is no one feature, which could be said to identify a social constructionist position. Instead, that might loosely think of as social constructionist any approach which has at its foundation one or more of the following key assumptions. This is something like 'things you would absolutely have to believe in order to be a social constructionist'.
While according to the works of Finlay, Kynan and Thompson also in 2002 the social world, including ourselves as people, is the product of social processes, it follows that there cannot be any given, determined nature to the world or people. There are no essences inside things or people that make them what they are. Although some kinds of traditional psycholog