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Social constructionism and PCP
Social constructionism is a school of science that understands reality, knowledge, thought, fact, texts, selves as community generated and community maintained linguistic entities (Bruffee, 1986; Gergen, 1999; 2001). In their landmark study, The social construction of reality, Berger and Luckmann (1972 /1966) trace how such entities are generated, objectivated, and institutionalized through socialization, and re-produced in on-going social interaction. Thus social constructionism in its "strong" version reduces the world to modes of discourse, while a "weaker" version of social constructionism allows for a reality "out there" to which people have to adapt and with which they come to terms as they construct and reconstruct themselves in relation to it.
In both versions of social constructionism, individual construals are central to the maintenance of the world. In the framework of the stronger version of social constructionism, the socially constructed linguistic entities that are conceived of as constituting reality, are available to individuals for organization into construct systems. Communities are created through the deployment of constructs in discourse according to individuals' construals of situated events. In the weaker version of social constructionism, Kellyian constructs are the modes of expression for how the "outer" reality is perceived in everyday life. This interpretation of constructionism would seem to match Kelly's (1955/ 1991) intention. Although the term "social" is not used in the fundamental postulate, it is clear that the Kellyian person lives in a world together with others. Kelly's emphasis on the anticipation of "events" and the reiterated significance of "events" in the Construction, Individuality, Organization, Range, and Experience Corollaries can be construed as indicating that Kelly assumed that the human world is necessarily a social world, a world where reality is community-generated and community-maintained through the deployment of (for the most part) linguistic entities (see verbal and non-verbal constructs). In sum, Personal Construct Psychology provides a theory for explaining how constructionism is possible as a form of life.  


  • Berger, P. and Luckmann, T. (1972 / 1966) The social construction of reality, Harmondsworth: Penguin.
  • Bruffee, K. A. (1986) Social construction, language and the authority of knowledge. College English, 48, pp. 773-790.
  • Gergen, K. J. (1999) An invitation to social construction. London: Sage.
  • Gergen,  K. J. (2001) Social construction in context. London: Sage.
  • Kelly, G. A. (1955/1991) The psychology of personal constructs. London: Routledge.

Devorah Kalekin-Fishman

Establ. 2003
Last update: 15 February 2004