Mariaelena Bartesaghi is Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of South Florida. Her work examines the process of institutional truth construction and authorization, in the relationship between talk and text.
Open peer commentary on the target article “From Objects to Processes: A Proposal to Rewrite Radical Constructivism” by Siegfried J. Schmidt. Upshot: Schmidt’s “philosophical argumentation” in favor of an action orientation for communication rewrites constructivism in terms of process. Though in support of his proposal, a philosophical argumentation about process works best for illuminating the writer’s own process and orienting readers to his own argument. I propose that arguments about the communication of social actors should make visible the social processes about which they argue.
This special issue invites a reflection on and reformulation of options for social construction as a theoretical and practical approach to studying communication as continuously emergent in relationships, constitutive of social reality, consequential to communicators, experienced through the bodily senses, and afforded by their material circumstances. Authors are encouraged to take stock of our predicted and actual accomplishments, consider the tensions between the promised and actualized changes brought about by social construction work in communication, and project the impact of social construction on the discipline in the next five to ten years. The focus is not only critical, but reflexive: How do we wish to reconstruct social construction? Relevance: The articles in the journal critically address social construction, taking on issues of its possibilities, shortcomings, and practical applications in psychotherapy, communication, and medicine.
I employ spoken and written discourse and extended excerpts from teleconferences between local, state, and federal officials in the midst of Hurricane Katrina to examine the term coordination as one powerful way of accounting for and pragmatically (re)constructing weather in crisis discourse. By means of discourse analysis, I find that the indexical term coordination is part of a metadiscursive vocabulary of disaster, and that, though it performs important social functions in the communication of accountability, authority, and redress, it has very little to do with communicating about weather itself. My conclusion presses for a discursive approach as a means of recovering and understanding social ontologies like weather and the way we materially organize around themes what Latour refers to “matters of concern.” Relevance: It analyzes how notions of weather and disaster are constructed in language.
Open peer commentary on the article “Constructivism as a Key Towards Further Understanding of Communication, Culture and Society” by Raivo Palmaru. Upshot: In my response to Palmaru, I press for a reflexive, accountable and, most of all, practical construction of radical constructivism as participatory communication.