Thesis Statement: Analysis of the theory of autopoiesis and social constructionism with respect to character and family through the reviews of two articles.
The inception of Psychology was not just aimed at studying the psychological stipulation and behaviour of a being it was envisaged that psychology would help in understanding the human mind better which would further help in improving the quality of life; be it through reading a criminal mind or strengthening the bond between life-partners. Certain aspects of psychology play a crucial role in determining the factors which affect individuals, their personalities, personal thoughts and family lives. This essay deals with the review, contrast and analysis of the following two articles:
1. “Two practices, one perspective, many constructs: on the implications of social constructionism on scientific research and therapy” by Katerin De Koster, Isabel Devisé, Ida Flament and Gerrit Loots
2. “Life, The Multiverse and Everything: An Introduction to the ideas of Humberto Maturana” by Vincent Kenny
These two articles have applied the works of renowned theorists. Namely; G. Semin, Humberto Maturana, Kenneth Gergen and V, Burr.
Thesis Statement: Analysis of the theory of autopoiesis and social constructionism, with respect to psychology and family: Through the reviews of two articles by Katerin De Koster et al. and Vincent Kenny respectively.
The first article i.e. “Two practices, one perspective, many constructs: on the implications of social constructionism on scientific research and therapy” by Katerin De Koster et. al. has explained the meaning, significance and implications of social constructionism. The article begins by using language clearly and efficiently, to define the literal meaning of social constructionism, and relating it to how humans associate with each other, create knowledge and even validate it. There is a focus on the significance of language, not only for communication, but also growth and validation of knowledge. It has quoted the American psychologist Kenneth J. Gergen (1994), “It is human interchange that gives language its ability to carry meaning, and it must stand as the critical locus of concern” which explains that language or knowledge gains and holds meaning through communication.
On one hand, if the approval of the concept that knowledge gets validated through communication gets accepted, it gives rise to the concepts of relativism and nihilism. It is particularly obvious that such cross-questions came to criticise social constructionism. Because if every knowledge is true to its locality, then there can be countless localities giving everyone the freedom to make a theory. Avoiding the negative interpretation, there has been an excellent emphasis on social constructionism and role of “us”. By applying clear, yet poignant phrases, the article sheds some light on the effects of such thoughts of social constructionism on life, scientific research and therapy. Within the article, a question has been raised to try and explain this. Why an expert researcher is the only one who can define a theory on say, child development? Does not every other person have his or her personal, social, cultural or regional experience and opinions on this?
Social constructionism asks such research to be a subject of expert opinion but also an open discussion. The role of ordinary people, the questions chosen in various, widespread points of view, the methodology to be selected and involvement of people in every stage have a wholesome result and make a research better. The authors of the article have emphasized that the role or involvement of ordinary people does not mean “anything goes” should be implemented. However, a research needs regular involvement, remark and views from the people who are the actual ones dealing with an issue. With a brief and crisp account of use of social constructionism in psychotherapy, the article has concluded it effectively that the concept can be extremely beneficial in both a scientific research and therapy session. The experts and therapists need to talk, involve their clients or people in the research or therapy as it is a not a one way process but a cyclic one.
The second article i.e. “Life, The Multiverse and Everything: An Introduction to the ideas of Humberto Maturana” by Vincent Kenny has effectively described the views of Humberto Maturana on various issues. He has clearly explained the biological stickiness which exists between the lovers, members of family and folks as well as a society of humans on whole. The importance of communication, value of perception as well as the mistakes we make while perceiving an entity; Maturana elucidated these concepts along with the three principles namely orthogonality, parenthesising and circularity.
The article has directly discarded some beliefs which prevail in terms of love, psychology, therapy and perception. It has supported the criticism with strong instances too, but that again is a matter of the reader’s discretion. Love is depicted as creation of space for each other so that we become a part of the domain of existence of each other. Maturana believes that love is necessary and indispensable for any social phenomena and that it is what keeps humans together. Love here does not mean the romance only, but the affection between folks, friends and even community. The article has quoted Maturana- “Every system is where it is, in a present, in congruence with its medium, and cannot be anywhere else.” The concepts of Maturana are explained in many instances within the article.
The article has further focussed on the sheer social significance of language. Maturana strongly believed the role of language in life. On the views of perception, it has clearly been stated that, on first sight, it is not easy to distinguish between perception and hallucination. We need social coherence on an issue to know that it is not illusion. This is what science does. The article explains the role of an observer, domains of explanation, domains of experience and meaning in terms of society and science. It has been told, that a living system will last, as long as there conservation of its organisation and so long as it can be recognized in its domain of existence. Within the article, a particularly strong example explains and justifies the concepts. Family is evaluated as a system in a socio-descriptive domain, where affection and communication flourishes it. There is also an explanation of the importance of structure explanation and the implications of psychotherapy.
Contrast between the two articles
There are two key similarities between the two articles. Both articles explain the importance of language. It is one of the defining factors which keep a society alive and sustainable. Other than this, there is a strong similarity between how both the works emphasises on the importance of factors like social constructionism and social coherence to prove or validate a theory or concept. The first article has explained with the example of the ordinary man being a part of a research. The second article has explained that the difference between hallucination and perception gets validated with social coherence.
There is a potent difference in both the articles in terms of orthogonality. While the first article focuses on participation of a therapist in therapeutic sessions so as to acquire the best results, the second article explains that if therapist becomes parallel to the clients, then a solution cannot be attained efficiently. When a therapist gets enmeshed with clients, he focuses only on the problem and not the solution. The second difference is a bit contradictory to one of the similarities. While both articles speak of social coherence in acquiring the best results from a research, there is a clear difference in the views of two authors on perception. While the first article considers knowledge to be what one perceives in his locality, the second article does not validate it to be a perception unless it is socially coherent.
Implication of psychotherapy
Social constructionism is beneficial in psychotherapy. It is again a matter of reader’s, or perceiver’s discretion, that whether he/she wants to follow the Maturana’s principle of orthogonality or the sheer use of social constructionism in therapeutic sessions in psychotherapy as explained in the first article. Taking the best from what is being discoursed in both articles, a balanced social constructionism should be applied in the psychotherapeutic sessions so as to understand the clients and delve deeper into their problems, thus moving towards a solution. As Maturana suggests, it is better not to get so enmeshed with clients that only problem becomes prominently dominant instead of the moving towards problem. An efficient communication between the therapist and clients, which is a cyclic process as the later gives his remarks and feedback constantly, improves the quality of a session.
Burr, V. (1995). An Introduction to Social Constructionism. London: Routledge.
Gergen, K. (1994). Realities and Relationships: Soundings in Social Construction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Gergen, K. (1999). An Invitation to Social Constructionism. London: Sage.
Maturana, H. R. (1986). The Biological Foundations of Self Consciousness and the Physical Domain od Existence. Unpublished Manuscript.
Maturana, H. R. (1988). Reality: The Search for Objectivity or the Quest for a Compelling Argument. Irish Journal of Psychology, IX(Special Issue on “Radical Constructivism,Autopoiesis and Psychotherapy”), 25-82.
Maturana, H. R., & Varela, F. J. (1987). The Tree of Knowledge. Boston: New Science Library.
Semin, G., & Gergen, K. (1990). Everyday Understanding: Social and Scientific Implications. London: Sage.
Varela, F. J. (1981). Autopoiesis: A Theory of Living Organization. Describing The Logic Of the Living.