How Not to Be a Constructivist

Resuscitating Controversies
By Cyril Lemieux

Social scientists professing allegiance to constructivism often have difficulty maintaining the notion that reality is a social construction. Therefore, it is common to see them yielding to the temptation to secretly renaturalize some part of the social world, so as not to fall into relativism. This strategy is completely regressive regarding sociology’s ambitions: it not only leads to serious inconsistencies, such as ontological gerrymandering, derealization, and criticism of artificiality, but it also severely limits the potential of constructivism by creating a regional theory instead of a universal one. A much more consistent approach can be found in the Durkheimian thesis on the social origins of categories, provided it is read to examine Durkheim’s belief in control by experience through explaining the transformation process of categories.

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