Encyclopedia Entry

Constructivism

Garance Maréchal

Constructivism encompasses a variety of intellectual traditions concerned with the social, subjective, cognitive, technological, and linguistic processes involved in the construction of lay and scientific knowledge. These encompass contributions in psychology, psychiatry, anthropology, and education challenging traditional approaches to learning, communication, and change, and traditions in philosophy and social studies of science questioning objectivism. Constructivism and constructionism as terms are often used interchangeably in the literature, the first term being preferred in psychology and educational studies, the second in sociology. Over the past 40 years, constructivism/constructionism has also been of continuing interest in qualitative social research, alongside increased recognition of the subjective, social, and discursive texture of human experience, practice, and artifacts. Despite differences, several common themes outline the contours of constructivist traditions. These traditions tend to be skeptical of empiricist foundations of knowledge and of claims of the objectivity and value neutrality of scientific methods. They particularly question the ...

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