Constructivism – or how we can we perceive the world in the 21st century

After the Crises of Representation in the 80s, researches looked for new methods to analyse and represent their work. If some of them said that this can be the end of theory, others tried to find different approaches to the use and the development of theory.

One of them can be considered the constructivism methodology. It occurred to that in the need of being academical we apply and use theories form different periods of time expecting the same results as they had before. We apply “Freud” and pretend that it might have the same result, we speak about Foucault and think that his ideas can be the same today. Some of them can and are very useful, explaining our problems but what we constantly forget is to bring them in the spectrum of today’s context. Each scholar, when he did research, was influenced by the historical and cultural context that he lived in, this shaped his view of the world, his creativity and the most important “the meaning of the truth”, however all put together, made his findings important and relevant.

Constructivism, as research paradigm, sustains that there is no objective reality “asserting instead that realities are social constructions of the mind, and that there exist as many such constructions as there are individuals (although clearly many constructions will be shared)” (Guba & Lincoln, 1989, p. 43). To be more specific, suggests that our perceptions can find more than one reality of the subject matter, al being influenced by the different contexts in which the researcher looks. People who reject the objective reality usually find their interest in the relativism ontological position.

Relativists claim that concepts such as rationality, truth, reality, right, good, or norms must be understood “as relative to a specific conceptual scheme, theoretical framework, paradigm, form of life, society, or culture . . . there is a non-reducible plurality of such conceptual schemes” (Bernstein, 1983, p. 8)

Constructivism, epistemologically speaking, underlines the subjective line between the research and the individuals that take part in it. (Hayes & Oppenheim, 1997; Pidgeon & Henwood, 1997). Presuming that, researchers are part of the research, they cannot be seen as objective observers, also their outcomes must be seen as part of this subjectiveness paradigm.

Looking for a methodology that can sustain the research with our ontological and epistemological position, we decided to follow the constructivism grounded theory paradigm.

Bernstein, R. (1983). Beyond objectivism and relativism: Science, hermeneutics, and praxis. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press

Guba, E., & Lincoln, Y. (1994). Competing paradigms in qualitative research. In N. Denzin & Y. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (pp. 105-117). London: Sage

Hayes, R.,&Oppenheim, R. (1997). Constructivism: Reality is what you make it. In T. Sexton&B. Griffin (Eds.), Constructivist thinking in counseling practice, research and training (pp. 19-41). New York: Teachers College Press.

Eduard Claudiu Vasile

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