PED8012 - Social Construction: Theory and Practice with paper


Lessons are not given in the academic year 2021/2022

Course content

Social constructionist ideas have been increasingly used to inform practice as well as inquiry. These ideas draw on a relational paradigm, which emphasizes the meaning-making process where interactions, as opposed to cognitive/mental processes, become the focus of concern. By examining what people do together, we will explore the ways in which our realities are created. Thus, our focus will be centered on relational processes, interactions, language and embodied practices. Additionally, focus will be on the practical application of constructionist ideas in a variety of contexts, such as therapy, organizations, healthcare, communities, and education

Learning outcome

Students are able to articulate the different assumptions that guide research within a constructionist perspective. Students are able to assess the applicability and use of social constructionist practice in counseling, education, therapy and organizational development Students can draw up relevant research questions within the field of social construction and identify appropriate methods

Learning methods and activities

Lectures and seminars

Compulsory assignments

  • Mandatory attendence in lectures

Further on evaluation

Paper: 12-15 pages. The research questions of the paper must be within the frame of the course and should relate to some of the course literature. Paper to be sent to Ottar Ness,

Specific conditions

Compulsory activities from previous semester may be approved by the department.

Required previous knowledge

Master's degree in Social Science or Humanities

Course materials

Reading list: Social constructionist theory and practice Davies, B. & Harre, R. (1990). Positioning: The Discursive Production of Selves. Journal for the Theory of Social Behavior, 20, 43-64. Frank, A. (2005). What Is Dialogical Research, and Why Should We Do It? Qualitative Health Research, 15, 964-974. Gergen, K.J. (2011). Relational Being. London: Oxford. Gergen, K. J., & Ness, O. (2016). Therapeutic Practice as Social Construction. In M. O´Reilly & J. Lester (Eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Adult Mental Health: Discourse and Conversation Studies (pp. 502-519). London, UK: Palgrave MacMillan. Katz, A. & Shotter, J. (1999). Social Poetics as a Relational Practice: Creating Resourceful Communities. Paper presented at Social Construction and Relational Practices conference, Durham, NH. McNamee, S. (200?). Relational practices in Education: Teaching as conversation. In H. Anderson & D. Gehart, (eds.), Collaborative therapy (pp. 313-336) McNamee, S. (2004). Promiscuity in family therapy. Journal of family therapy, 26, 224-244. McNamee, S. (2015). Ethics as Discursive Potential. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy 2015, 36, 419–433 McNamee, S. (2010). Research as social construction. Transformative Inquiry. Sau. & Transf. Soc., Florianópolis, 1(1), 9-19. Ness, O., & Strong, T. (2014). Relational consciousness and the conversational practices of Johnella Bird. Journal of Family Therapy, 36(1), 81-102. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-6427.2011.00567.x. Sampson, E.E. (1993). Celebrating the Other: A Dialogic Account of Human Nature. Colorado: Westview Press, Chapter 3: Possessive Individualism and the Self-Contained Ideal, pp. 31-41. Sampson, E.E. (1993). Celebrating the Other: A Dialogic Account of Human Nature. Colorado: Westview Press, Chapter 7: “Celebrating the Other: The Dialogic Turn” pp. 97-110. Seikkula, J., Arnkil, T.E., & Erikson, E. (2003). Postmodern Society and Social Networks: Open and Anticipation Dialogues in Network Meetings. Family Process, 42, 2, 185-203. Simon, G., & Chard, A. (2014). Systemic Inquiry: Innovations in Reflexive Practice Research. Farnhill, UK: Everything Connected Press. Stewart, J. & Zediker, K. (2002). Dialogue as Tensional, Ethical Practice. Southern Communication Journal, 65 (2/3), 224-242. Suggested readings Bochner, A. and Ellis, C. (1995). Telling and Living: Narrative Co-Construction and the Practices of Interpersonal Relationships. In W. Leeds-Hurwitz (Ed.), Social Approaches to Communication. New York: Guilford Press, 201-213. Bruffee, K. (1999). Education as Conversation. In Collaborative Learning. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. Edwards, D., Ashmore, M., & Potter, J. (1995). Death and furniture: The rhetoric, politics and theology of bottom line arguments against relativism, History of the Human Sciences, 8, 25-49. Gergen, K.J. (2007). Relativism, Religion and Relational Being. Common Knowledge, 13, 2- 3, 362-378. Gergen, K.J., McNamee, S., & Barrett, F. (2001). Toward Transformative Dialogue. International Journal of Public Administration, 24, 7/8, 679-707. Gergen, K. & McNamee, S. (2000). From Disordered to Generative Dialogues. In R. Neimeyer & J.D. Raskin (Eds.), The Construction of Disorder. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association Press, 333-349. Gergen, K., Hoffman, L., & Anderson, H. (1995). Is Diagnosis a Disaster: A Trialogue. In F. Kaslow (Ed.), Handbook of Relational Diagnosis. New York: John Wiley and Sons. Katz, A., Conant, L., Inui, T., Baron, D. & Bor, D. (2000). A Council of Elders: Creating a Multi-Voiced Dialogue in a Community of Care. Social Science and Medicine, 50, 6, 851-860. McNamee, S. (2008). Transformative Dialogue: Coordinating Conflicting Moralities. Lindberg Lecture, College of Liberal Arts, University of New Hampshire. McNamee, S. (2004). The Social Construction of Disorders: From Pathology to Potential. In J.D. Raskin & S.K. Bridges (Eds.), Studies in Meaning. New York: Pace University Press, 143-168. McNamee, S. & Gergen, K.J. (1999). Relational Responsibility: Resources for Sustainable Dialogue. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications. Chapters 1-2, pp. 3-48. Paré, D.A. (2002). Discursive wisdom: Reflections on ethics and therapeutic knowledge. International Journal of Critical Psychology, 7, 30-52. Paré, D.A., & Lysack, M. (2004). The oak and the willow: From monologue to dialogue in the scaffolding of therapeutic conversations. Journal of Systemic Therapies 23(1), pp. 6-20. Roth, S., Chasin, L., Chasin, R., Becker, C., & Herzig, M. (1992). From Debate to Dialogue: A Facilitating Role for Family Therapists in the Public Forum. Dulwich Centre Newsletter, Australia, vol. 2: 41-48. Sharf, B., & Vanderford, M.L. (2003). Illness Narratives and the Social Construction of Health. In T. Thompson, A. Dorsey, K.I. Miller, and R. Parrott (Eds.), Handbook of Health Communication. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 9-34.

Credit reductions

Course code Reduction From To
PED8013 2.5 AUTUMN 2019
More on the course



Version: 1
Credits:  5.0 SP
Study level: Doctoral degree level



Language of instruction: English

Location: Trondheim

Subject area(s)
  • Education
  • Counselling
  • Social Sciences
Contact information

Department with academic responsibility
Department of Education and Lifelong Learning


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