Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Policy, Constructivist Models
Pieter Wagenaar & Gjalt de Graaf & Merlijn van Hulst
Social constructivists depart from the assumption that reality is what Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann call social reality . To say that reality is socially constructed is to say that social reality is the product of human ways of knowing and communicating. Social constructivists, therefore, draw attention to the processes and ways through which the world is represented in language. They feel that the access we have to a reality outside human symbol systems is highly problematic. This entry describes the relevance of this perspective for understanding public policy. Language, to take the most obvious symbol system, does not simply report facts. Things get their meanings through language, irrespective of whether they exist outside language. And the meaning of anything always exists in particular social contexts; meaning is always contextual, contingent, and historical. Since human beings always depend on their symbol systems—and the theoretical frames they build with the help ...