Volume 12 · Number 1 · Pages 30–38

< Previous Paper · Next Paper >

Constructivism as a Key Towards Further Understanding of Communication, Culture and Society

Raivo Palmaru

Download the full text in
PDF (1053 kB)

> Citation > Similar > References > Add Comment

Abstract

Context: The interest of communication scholars in (radical) constructivism is fuelled by the need to radically rethink the theoretical assumptions that have governed most media and communication research for the past three or four decades. Problem: On at least two points, constructivism poses difficulties that need to be overcome by scholars of communication. These are the attitudes of many radical constructivists towards “reality” and the constructivist position with regard to “society.” The article seeks to clarify the constructivist position with regard to social interaction and society by determining how successful communication among individuals is possible, despite their cognitive autonomy. Method: In order to contribute to a discussion about the current situation in communication and media studies, the article takes up the author’s argument that communication cannot be understood unless models describing it are centred on the individual. Based on this conceptualisation, considerations about the ontological assumptions of constructivism and the constructivist position with regard to social interaction are revisited. Results: It is argued that (a) cognition is not pure self-reference; (b) society cannot be considered simply as an individual construct; self-organisation also occurs at the supra-individual level, where shared knowledge and socio-cultural meanings emerge in the operatively closed motion of the successive communicative elements. Implications: Clarifying the constructivist position with regard to society can contribute to innovative theory building and research in communication science, and in the social sciences more broadly.

Key words: Communication, sense, meaning, self-organisation, adaptation.

Citation

Palmaru R. (2016) Constructivism as a key towards further understanding of communication, culture and society. Constructivist Foundations 12(1): 30–38. http://constructivist.info/12/1/030

Export article citation data: Plain Text · BibTex · EndNote · Reference Manager (RIS)

Similar articles

Palmaru R. (2012) Making Sense and Meaning: On the Role of Communication and Culture in the Reproduction of Social Systems

Staude M. (2008) Meaning and Description in Non-dualism: A Formalization and Extension

Hejl P. M. (2011) The Individual in Radical Constructivism. Some Critical Remarks from an Evolutionary Perspective

Bettoni M. C. (2007) The Yerkish Language: From Operational Methodology to Chimpanzee Communication

Schmidt S. J. (2010) Self-Organisation and Learning Culture

References

Alexander J. C., Giesen B., Münch R. & Smelser N. J. (eds.) (1987) The micro-macro link. University of California Press, Berkeley CA.. << Google Scholar

Antaki C. (2006) Producing a “cognition.” Discourse Studies 8(1): 9–15. << Google Scholar

Ariès P. (1965) Centuries of childhood: A social history of family life. McGraw-Hill, New York. << Google Scholar

Bartesaghi M. & Bowen-Perlmutter S. (2009) The acquisition of memory by interview questioning: Holocaust re-membering as category bound activity. Discourse Studies 11(6): 223–244. << Google Scholar

Butz M. V. (2008) Intentions and mirror neurons: From the individual to overall social reality. Constructivist Foundations 3(2): 87–89 Available at http://constructivist.info/3/2/087

Cadenas H. & Arnold-Cathalifaud M. (2015) On the criticisms against the autopoiesis of social systems. Constructivist Foundations 10(2): 196–198 Available at http://constructivist.info/10/2/196

Cadenas H. & Arnold-Cathalifaud M. (2015) The autopoiesis of social systems and its criticisms. Constructivist Foundations 10(2): 169–176 Available at http://constructivist.info/10/2/169

Foerster H. von (1979) Cybernetics of cybernetics. In: Krippendorff K. (ed.). Communication and control in society. Gordon and Breach, New York: 5–8 Available at http://cepa.info/1707

Foerster H. von (1981) Observing systems. Intersystems Publications, Seaside CA. << Google Scholar

Foerster H. von (2003) Understanding understanding: Essays on cybernetics and cognition. Springer, New York. << Google Scholar

Foucault M. (1988) The concern for truth. In: Kritzman L. (ed.) Michel Foucault: Politics, philosophy, culture: Interviews and other writings: 1977–1984. Routledge, New York: 263–265. << Google Scholar

Franchi S., Güzeldere G. & Minch E. (1995) Interview with Heinz von Foerster. Stanford Humanities Review 4(2): 288–307. http: //web.stanford.edu/group/SHR/4–2/text/interviewvonf.html. << Google Scholar

Frege G. (2001) On sense and reference. In: Martinich A. P. & Sosa D. (eds.) Analytic philosophy: An anthology. Blackwell, Oxford: 7–18. German original published in 1892. << Google Scholar

Froese T. (2010) From cybernetics to second-order cybernetics: A comparative analysis of their central ideas. Constructivist Foundations 5(2): 75–85 Available at http://constructivist.info/5/2/075

Fuchs C. (2008) Sociology, dynamic critical realism, and radical constructivism. Constructivist Foundations 3(2): 97–99 Available at http://constructivist.info/3/2/097

Garfinkel H. (1967) Studies in ethnomethodology. Prentice-Hall, New York. << Google Scholar

Gergen K. J. (1999) An invitation to social construction. Sage, London. << Google Scholar

Giddens A. (1976) New rules of sociological method. Hutchinson, London. << Google Scholar

Giddens A. (1984) The constitution of society: Outline of the theory of structuration. Polity Press, Cambridge. << Google Scholar

Giddens A. (1990) The consequences of modernity. Stanford University Press, Redwood City CA. << Google Scholar

Glasersfeld E. von (1981) The concepts of adaptation and viability in a constructivist theory of knowledge. In: Sigel I. E., Brodzinsky D. M. & Golinkoff R. M. (eds.) New directions in Piagetian theory and practice. Erlbaum, Hillsdale NJ.: 87–95 Available at http://cepa.info/1357

Glasersfeld E. von (1984) An introduction to radical constructivism. In: Watzlawick P. (ed.),The invented reality: How do we know what we believe we know? Norton, New York: 17–40 Available at http://cepa.info/1279

Glasersfeld E. von (1990) An exposition of constructivism: Why some like it radical. In: Davis R. B., Maher C. A. & Noddings N. (eds.) Constructivist views on the teaching and learning of mathematics. NCTM, Reston VA: 19–29 Available at http://cepa.info/1415

Glasersfeld E. von (1991) Knowing without metaphysics: Aspects of the radical constructivist position. In: Steier F. (ed.),Research and reflexivity. SAGE, London: 12–29 Available at http://cepa.info/1420

Glasersfeld E. von (1995) Radical constructivism: A way of knowing and learning. Falmer Press, London. << Google Scholar

Glasersfeld E. von (1998) Die radikal-konstruktivistische Wissenstheorie [The radical-constructivist theory of knowledge ]. Ethik und Sozialwissenschaften 9(4): 503–596 Available at http://cepa.info/1500

Glasersfeld E. von (2008) Who conceives of society? Constructivist Foundations 3(2): 59–64 Available at http://constructivist.info/3/2/059

Gruber H. E. & Voneche J. J. (eds.) (1977) The essential Piaget. Routledge & Kegan Paul, London. << Google Scholar

Habermas J. (1984) The theory of communicative action. Volume 1: Reason and rationalization of society. Beacon Press, Boston. << Google Scholar

Habermas J. (1987) The theory of communicative action. Volume 2: Lifeworld and system: A critique of functionalist reason. Translated by T. McCarthy. Beacon Press, Boston. << Google Scholar

Harnad S. & Dror I. (2006) Distributed cognition: Cognizing, autonomy and the Turing Test. Pragmatics & Cognition 14(2): 209–213. << Google Scholar

Havelange V. (1991) Structures sociales et action cognitive: De la complexité en sociologie. In: Fogelman Soulie F., Havelange V. & Milgram M. (eds.) Les théories de la complexité. Autour de l’œuvre d’Henri Atlan. Editions du Seuil, Paris: 368–393. << Google Scholar

Havelange V. (1994) Sciences cognitives et tradition sociologique. Revue Internationale de Systémique 8(1): 79–89. << Google Scholar

Havelange V. (1995) Article critique: Jean-Pierre Dupuy, Aux origines des sciences cognitives, Paris, La Découverte, 1994. Intellectica 20: 247–261. << Google Scholar

Havelange V. (1998) Le social en débat: Cognition ou interprétation sciences sociales et cognition. Intellectica 26–27: 9–55. << Google Scholar

Havelange V. (2001) Action cognitive et formation du lien social: Vers une réévaluation de la technique. In: Paugam-Moisy H., Nyckees V. & Caron-Pargue J. (eds.) La cognition entre individu et société. Modèles et méthodes. Hermès Science, Paris: 13–45. << Google Scholar

Havelange V. (2001) Society and human action: Technology revisited. In: Earnshaw R., Guedj R., Van Dam A. & Vince J. (eds.) Frontiers of human-centred computing, online communities and virtual environments. Springer, London: 394–412. << Google Scholar

Havelange V. (2010) The ontological constitution of cognition and the epistemological constitution of cognitive science: Phenomenology, enaction and technology. In: Stewart J., Gapenne O. & Di Paolo E. (eds.) Enaction: Toward a new paradigm for cognitive science. MIT Press, Cambridge MA: 335–359 Available at http://cepa.info/2466

Heidegger M. (1978) Letter on humanism. In: Krell D. F. (ed.) Basic writings (Martin Heidegger). Routledge, London: 213–265. << Google Scholar

Heilbroner R. (1991) Reflections: Economic predictions. The New Yorker 8 July 1991: 70–77. << Google Scholar

Hutchins E. (1995) Cognition in the wild. MIT Press, Cambridge MA. << Google Scholar

Kaplan D. (1989) Demonstratives. In: Almog J., Perry J. & Wettstein H. (eds.) Themes from Kaplan. Oxford University Press, Oxford: 481–563. Originally published in 1977. << Google Scholar

Kravchenko A. V. (2003) Sign, meaning, knowledge: An essay in the cognitive philosophy of language. Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main. << Google Scholar

Kravchenko A. V. (2007) Whence the autonomy? Pragmatics & Cognition 15(3): 587–597. << Google Scholar

Kravchenko A. V. (2011) How Humberto Maturana’s biology of cognition can revive the language sciences. Constructivist Foundations 6(3): 352–362 Available at http://constructivist.info/6/3/352

Kravchenko A. V. (2014) Human autopoiesis? Constructivist Foundations 9(2): 177–179 Available at http://constructivist.info/9/2/177

Kravchenko A. V. (2016) Эпистемологическая ловушка языка [The epistemological trap of language]. Tomsk State University Journal of Philology 3(41): 14–26. Available at http://journals.tsu.ru/philology/&journal_page=archive&id=1393&article_id=28670

Kravchenko A. V. (2016) Language as human ecology: A new agenda for linguistic education. New Ideas in Psychology 42: 14–20. << Google Scholar

Kravchenko A. V. (2016) Two views on language ecology and ecolinguistics. Language Sciences 54: 102–113. << Google Scholar

Krippendorff K. (2008) Towards a radically social constructivism. Constructivist Foundations 3(2): 91–94 Available at http://constructivist.info/3/2/091

Krippendorff K. (2009) Conversation: Possibilities of its repair and descent into discourse and computation. Constructivist Foundations 4(3): 138–150 Available at http://constructivist.info/4/3/138

Kuhn T. S. (1970) The structure of scientific revolutions. Second edition. University of Chicago Press, Chicago. << Google Scholar

Labov W. (2001) Uncovering the event structure of a narrative. In: Tannen D. & Alatis J. E. (eds.) Georgetown university round table on languages and linguistics 2001. Georgetown University Press, Washington DC: 63–83. << Google Scholar

Lenartowicz M. (2016) Creatures of the semiosphere: A problematic third party in the “humans plus technology” cognitive architecture of the future global superintelligence. Technological Forecasting and Social Change. Published 15 July 2016 online ahead of print. << Google Scholar

Lenartowicz M., Weinbaum D. R. & Braathen P. (2016) Social systems: Complex adaptive loci of cognition. Emergence: Complexity & Organization 18(2) Available at https://journal.emergentpublications.com/article/social-systems/.

Lenartowicz M., Weinbaum D. R. & Braathen P. (2016) The individuation of social systems. Procedia Computer Science 88. In press. << Google Scholar

Lew B. & Cater B. (2006) The telegraph, co-ordination of tramp shipping, and growth in world trade, 1870–1910. European Review of Economic History 10: 147–173. << Google Scholar

Louckx K. & Vanderstraeten R. (2014) Statistics and state-istics: Exclusion categories in the population census (Belgium, 1846–1930) The Sociological Review 62(3): 530–546. << Google Scholar

Luhmann N. (1975) Einführende Bemerkungen zu einer Theorie symbolisch generalisierter Kommunikationsmedien. In: Soziologische Aufklärung 2: Aufsätze zur Theorie der Gesellschaft. Westdeutscher Verlag, Opladen: 170–192. << Google Scholar

Luhmann N. (1984) Soziale Systeme. Suhrkamp, Frankfurt am Main. English translation: Luhmann N. (1995) Social systems. Stanford University Press, Stanford. << Google Scholar

Luhmann N. (1985) Society, meaning, religion – based on self-reference. Sociological Analysis 46(1): 5–20 Available at http://cepa.info/2996

Luhmann N. (1995) Die Kunst der Gesellschaft [The art of society]. Suhrkamp, Frankfurt am Main. << Google Scholar

Luhmann N. (1995) Social systems. Stanford University Press, Stanford. German original published as: Luhmann N. (1984) Soziale Systeme. Grundriß einer allgemeinen Theorie. Suhrkamp, Frankfurt am Main. << Google Scholar

Luhmann N. (1995) Soziologische Aufklärung 6: Die Soziologie und der Mensch [Sociological enlightenment 6: Sociology and man]. Westdeutscher Verlag, Opladen. << Google Scholar

Luhmann N. (1997) Die Gesellschaft der Gesellschaft [The society of society]. Suhrkamp, Frankfurt am Main. << Google Scholar

Luhmann N. (2000) The reality of the mass media. Translated by Kathleen Cross. Stanford University Press, Stanford CA. German original published in 1996. << Google Scholar

Luhmann N. (2002) Theories of distinction: Redescribing the descriptions of modernity. Stanford University Press, Stanford. << Google Scholar

Luhmann N. (2008) Einführung in die Systemtheorie [Introduction to systems theory]. Fourth edition. Carl Auer, Heidelberg. << Google Scholar

Luhmann N. (2012) Theory of society. Volume 1. Stanford University Press, Stanford CA. << Google Scholar

Luhmann N. (2013) Theory of society. Volume 2. Stanford University Press, Stanford CA. << Google Scholar

Marx K. (1973) Grundrisse: Foundations of the critique of political economy (rough draft) Penguin, Harmondsworth. Originally published in 1857. << Google Scholar

Maturana H. R. & Varela F. J. (1998) The tree of knowledge: The biological roots of human understanding. Shambhala, Boston. << Google Scholar

Maturana H. R. (1978) Biology of language: The epistemology of reality. In: Miller G. & Lenneberg E. (eds.) Psychology and biology of language and thought: Essays in honor of Eric Lenneberg. Academic Press, New York: 27–63 Available at http://cepa.info/549

Maturana H. R. (1980) Biology of cognition. In: Maturana H. R. & Varela F. J., Autopoiesis and cognition: The realization of the living. Reidel, Boston: 5–58. Originally published in 1970 Available at http://cepa.info/535

Maturana H. R. (1988) Reality: The search for objectivity or the quest for a compelling argument. Irish Journal of Psychology 9(1): 25–82 Available at http://cepa.info/598

Maturana H. R. (2015) What is sociology? Constructivist Foundations 10(2): 176–179 Available at http://constructivist.info/10/2/176

Maturana H. R., Mpodozis J. & Letelier J. C. (1995) Brain, language and the origin of human mental functions. Biological Research 28(1): 15–26 Available at http://cepa.info/642

McHoul A. & Rapley M. (2003) What can psychological terms actually do? (Or: If Sigmund calls, tell him it didn’t work). Journal of Pragmatics 35(4): 507–522. << Google Scholar

Mills C. W. (1940) Situated action and vocabularies of motive. American Sociological Review 5(6): 904–913. << Google Scholar

Mitterer J. (2001) Die Flucht aus der Beliebigkeit [The flight from contingency]. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main. Republished in 2011 with a new foreword by Velbrück Wissenschaft, Weilerswist. << Google Scholar

Palmaru R. (2009) Kujutluste ühiskond [The society of imagery]. Akadeemia Nord, Tallinn. << Google Scholar

Palmaru R. (2012) Making sense and meaning: On the role of communication and culture in the reproduction of social systems. Constructivist Foundations 8(1): 63–75 Available at http://constructivist.info/8/1/063

Palmaru R. (2014) Communication and media studies in crisis. Constructivist Foundations 10(1): 150–152 Available at http://constructivist.info/10/1/150

Palmaru R. (2014) How can a social system be autopoietic? Constructivist Foundations 9(2): 170–172 Available at http://constructivist.info/9/2/170

Parsons T. (1937) The structure of social action. Free Press, New York. << Google Scholar

Parsons T. (1951) The social system. Free Press, New York. Available at https://archive.org/details/socialsystem00pars.

Parsons T. (1977) Social systems and the evolution of action theory. Free Press, New York. << Google Scholar

Peters J. D. (1999) Speaking into the air: A history of the idea of communication. University of Chicago Press, Chicago. << Google Scholar

Piaget J. & Inhelder B. (1969) The psychology of the child. Translated by H. Weaver. Basic Books, New York. French original published as an article in 1950. << Google Scholar

Piaget J. (1952) The origins of intelligence in children. International Universities Press, New York. French original published in 1936. << Google Scholar

Piaget J. (1954) The construction of reality in the child. Translated by Margaret Cook. Basic Books, New York. French original published as: Piaget J. (1937) La construction du réel chez l’enfant. Delachaux et Niestlé, Neuchâtel. << Google Scholar

Piaget J. (1968) The role of the concept of equilibrium in psychology explication. In: Piaget J., Six psychological studies. Translated by Anita Tenzer. Vintage Books, New York: 100–115. French original published in 1959. << Google Scholar

Piaget J. (1997) Development and learning. In: Gauvain M. & Cole G. M. (eds.) Readings on the development of children. Second Edition. W. H. Freeman, New York: 19–28 Available at http://cepa.info/3043

Premack D. (1990) The infant’s theory of self-propelled objects. Cognition 36(1): 1–16. << Google Scholar

Quandt T. & Scheufele B. (eds.) (2011) Ebenen der Kommunikation. Mikro-Meso-Makro-Links in der Kommunikationswissenschaft [Levels of communication: Micro-meso-macro links in communication studies]. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden. << Google Scholar

Riegler A. (2005) Act always so as to increase the number of scientific perspectives: Introduction to the Heinz von Foester volume. Kybernetes 34(1–2): 6–14 Available at http://cepa.info/1780

Sacks H. (1992) Lectures on conversation. Basil Blackwell, Oxford. << Google Scholar

Sandbothe M. (2007) Introduction. In: Schmidt S. J., Histories & discourses: Re-writing Constructivism. Imprint Academic, Exeter UK: 1–18 Available at http://cepa.info/3044

Saussure F. de (2000) Course in general linguistics. Edited by C. Bally and A. Sechehaye with the collaboration of A. Riedlinger, translated and annotated by R. Harris. Duckworth, London. Originally published in French as: Saussure F. de (1916) Cours de linguistique générale. Payot, Lausanne. << Google Scholar

Schmidt S. J. & Zurstiege G. (2007) Kommunikationswissenschaft: Systematik und Ziele [Communication science: Systematics and objectives]. Rowohlt, Reinbek bei Hamburg. << Google Scholar

Schmidt S. J. (1994) Kognitive Autonomie und soziale Orientierung: Konstruktivistische Bemerkungen zum Zusammenhang von Kognition, Kommunikation, Medien und Kultur [Cognitive autonomy and social orientation: Constructivist remarks on the relationship between cognition, communication, media and culture]. Suhrkamp, Frankfurt am Main. << Google Scholar

Schmidt S. J. (2001) Media societies: Fiction machines. In: Grant C. B. & McLaughlin D. (eds.) Critical studies. Language – meaning – social construction: Interdisciplinary studies. Rodopi, Amsterdam: 11–24. << Google Scholar

Schmidt S. J. (2007) Histories and discourses: On rewriting constructivism. Imprint Academic, Exeter UK. << Google Scholar

Schmidt S. J. (2008) Media philosophy: A reasonable programme? In: Hrachovec H. & Pichler A. (eds.) Philosophy of the information society. Proceedings of the 30th international Wittgensten symposium, Kirchberg am Wechsel, Austria 2007. Volume 2. Ontos, Frankfurt: 89–105. << Google Scholar

Schmidt S. J. (2011) From objects to process: A proposal to rewrite radical constructivism. Constructivist Foundations 7(1): 1–9 Available at http://constructivist.info/7/1/001

Scholl A. (2010) Radical constructivism in communication science. Constructivist Foundations 6(1): 51–57 Available at http://constructivist.info/6/1/051

Searle J. R. (1965) What is speech act? In: Martinich A. P. (ed.) The philosophy of language. Oxford University Press, New York: 130–141. << Google Scholar

Shannon C. & Weaver W. (1964) The mathematical theory of communication. The University of Illinois, Urbana IL. << Google Scholar

Uexküll J. von (1909) Umwelt und Innenwelt der Tiere. J. Springer, Berlin. English translation: Von Uexküll J. (1992) A stroll through the worlds of animals and men: A picture book of invisible worlds. Semiotica 89(4): 319–391 Available at http://cepa.info/2404

Vanderstraeten R. (2004) Emerging mechanisms of educational interaction. Educational Review 56 (1): 43–52. << Google Scholar

Vanderstraeten R. (2012) Rewriting theory: From autopoiesis to communication. Systems Research and Behavioral Science 29(4): 377–386 Available at http://cepa.info/3665

Vanderstraeten R. (2015) Inclusion ideals and inclusion problems: Parsons and Luhmann on religion and secularization. Acta Sociologica 58(2): 173–185. << Google Scholar

Völker J. & Scholl A. (2014) Do the media fail to represent reality? a constructivist and second-order critique of the research on environmental media coverage and its normative implications. Constructivist Foundations 10(1): 140–149 Available at http://constructivist.info/10/1/140

Vermeer H. J. (2006) Luhmann’s “social systems” theory: Preliminary fragments for a theory of translation. Frank & Timme, Berlin. << Google Scholar

Vygotsky L. S. (1929) Die genetischen Wurzeln des Denkens und der Sprache. Unter dem Banner des Marxismus 3(3): 450–470. << Google Scholar

Vygotsky L. S. (1929) Die genetischen Wurzeln des Denkens und der Sprache. Unter dem Banner des Marxismus 3(4): 607–624. << Google Scholar

Vygotsky L. S. (1997) The problem of the development of higher mental functions. In: Rieber R. W. (ed.) The collected works of L. S. Vygotsky. Voume 4: The history of the development of higher mental functions. Plenum, New York: 1–26. Originally published in 1960. << Google Scholar

Vygotsky L. S. (1999) Tool and sign in the development of the child. In: Rieber R. W. (ed.) The collected works of L. S. Vygotsky. Volume 6: Scientific legacy. Plenum, New York: 3–68. << Google Scholar

Weinbaum D. R. & Veitas V. (2016) Open ended intelligence: The individuation of intelligent agents. Journal of Experimental & Theoretical Artificial Intelligence. Published 24 May 2016 online ahead of print. << Google Scholar

Weiss P. (1969) The living system: Determinism stratified. Studium Generale 22: 361–400. << Google Scholar

Wittgenstein L. (1956) Philosophical investigations. Translated by G. E. M. Anscombe. MacMillan, New York. << Google Scholar

Comments: 0

To stay informed about comments to this publication and post comments yourself, please log in first.