Introduction to Social Constructionism is a readable and critical account of social constructionism for students new to the field. Focusing on the challenge to psychology that social constructionism poses, Viven Burr examines the notion of 'personality' to illustrate the rejection of essentialism by social constructionists. This questions psychology's traditional understanding of the person. She then shows how the study of language can be used as a focus for our understanding of human behaviour and experience. This is continued by examining 'discourses' and their role in constructing social phenomena, and the relationship between discourse and power. However, the problems associated with these analyses are also clearly outlined.
Many people believe that one of the aims of social science should be to bring about social change. Viven Burr analyses what possibilities there might be for change in social constructionist accounts. She also addresses what social constructionism means in practice to research in the social sciences, and includes some guidelines on undertaking discourse analysis.
Introduction to Social Constructionism is an invaluable and clear guide for all perplexed students who want to begin to understand this difficult area.