Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The End of "Constructivist"?

Interesting article on the declining usefulness of the idea of social construction. Not particularly radical, but does make an interesting argument about an overall shift going on at the intersection between the social sciences and humanities. And it's brief, always a benefit (that I seem often unable to provide).

Her "co-evolutionary" view dovetails with the article on comics and co-evolution posted earlier.
Viewed in the light of contemporary knowledges and material realities, social construction is looking rather outdated. To borrow the vocabulary I learned from Meredith Jones' dissections of makeover culture (Skintight, ‘Mutton'), social construction has come to resemble a 1970s celebrity who is not ‘ageing well': she's become a repetitive and unconvincing grumpy old woman who arguably needs a conceptual makeover to stay attractive and relevant. Can she once again inspire re-constructions of people, languages, practices and worlds? It is possible for her to enjoy what Jones calls a ‘stretched middle age' and be re-capacitated as an ally for twenty-first century movements and policies supporting sustainability and diversity in both nature and society? I am not entirely sure. . . .

From understanding ‘construction' as a form of ‘co-construction', we can begin to contemplate the dynamic processes of ‘co-evolution', where actors and ‘products' (or entities) in networks continually interact with and mutually shape each other, meaning that each ‘construction' is a dynamic co-construction that changes over time or in successive iterations, along with other elements in the network that together ‘co-evolve'.6 Elizabeth Shove has outlined one version of a basic sociotechnical co-evolutionary system in the form of a triangle whose three poles are the habits and expectations of users (or ‘user cultures'), the technologies and objects they use, and the collective conventions and arrangements associated with large-scale social structures and technocratic infrastructures (Shove, Comfort 48; see also Sofoulis and Williams 54). Two-way arrows between each pole indicate co-constitutive interactions between user cultures, technologies, and systems, each of which adaptively changes and evolves in response to interactions with the others.


Character Education said...

Interesting article, i really like your view, this is really what many people dont want to disclose.:D

Unknown said...