Tag Archives: contextual constructionism

beginning to close the section on sociological social construction approach to social problems, one more paragraph and then on to section two: environmental concern – with a summary of its social bases and my review of the research on religion’s role in it…

“Today’s proponents of the social construction approach to social problems continue urging analysts to follow a “middle road” (Weinberg 2009:1) between its principled, narrow version (Ibarra and Kitsuse 1993) and other sociological traditions in which the objective conditions of social problems are assumed (Spector and Kitsuse 1977). They acknowledge a pragmatic and paradoxical challenge facing the social constructionist perspective is everyone’s inevitable embeddedness in the mundane social world. “Neither we as researchers nor those we study can ever intelligibly leave the domain of embodied, invested, and fully purposeful practical action” (Weinberg 2009#1). However, they contest the strict constructionist argument to ignore this (Ibarra and Kitsuse 1993). “Agnosticism regarding the structural contexts of human action comes at the cost of rendering that action normatively unaccountable or, in other words, unintelligible. General social problems theory cannot succeed if it is confined to the comparative analysis of social problems discourse in vacuo” (Weinberg 2009#1). Calling for a contextual social constructionist approach to social problems reflects the value proponents place on holding onto this analytical tension and balance. It comes from the belief that this perspective offers sociologists a clearer, wider vision on how some conditions, but not others, become defined as problems and why people’s views about them vary.”


I am very concerned about environmental problems

I am very concerned about environmental problems (Photo credit: Gauravonomics)

the broader version of the sociological social construction approach to social problems…

“Contextual constructionists counter that “the language of claims does not exist independently of the social world; it is a product of—and influence on—that world” (Best 1993:141). They argue that strict constructionism ignores the pragmatic realities of the “social problems work” that both researchers and actors perform. Contextual constructionists advocate a more ethnomethodologically sensitive approach that reflects concern for “the interpretative practices by which everyday realities are locally accomplished, managed, and sustained” (Holstein and Miller 1993:152). They recommend a broadened focus to constructionism that includes “practices that link public interpretative structures to aspects of everyday realities” (Holstein and Miller 1993:152). Miller and Fox (1999) grant strict constructionism value as a theoretical ideal, but declare it untenable in practical research and applied applications.”



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