Few answers questioning constructionism

October 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

Recently, I read the book of Paul Boghossian ‘Fear of knowledge. Against Relativism and Constructivism’ (Spanish edition in Alianza Editorial translated by Fabio Morales). It does not contain a clear difference between ‘constructivism’ and ‘constructionism’… which would pay some words.Despite being an interesting work, I did not find well-grounded answers to the following question: Is there any alternative to social constructionism when studying meanings, society, culture…? The book contains a very philosophical approach in order to disarm the relativism contained in, mainly, radical constructivism. Although the critique to the ‘construction of the facts’ and the ideas of Richard Rorty appears quite clearly exposed, there are major problems in questioning the idea that some concepts like ‘violence’, ‘nation’, even ‘madness’ are in a way determined by social contexts, institutionalization of meanings, and so on.

For the author, some of these affirmations are obvious: i.e. the fact that money is socially defined, because the object is a piece of paper or metal, right. Yes obvious, ‘social constructionism’ go further in this matter. Of course, Boghossian recognizes that some other ‘social meanings’ are much more complex. In a way, the authors pays too much attention to these obvious ideas (a rock is a rock, ok), but less to other complexities or social constructions (biologically the differences man/woman seems obvious, but what about roles, social meaning of ‘man’, etc.?).

I was looking for some arguments in order to explore other perspectives, but I found few answers here. I also found estrange that the author does not refer to Berger & Luckmann or Nietzsche. The main ideas against radical relativism are rather consistent but the attack to constructivism (and more specifically social constructivism) is quite weak and two narrowed to analytical philosophy.Therefore, although agreeing in quite a number of questions displayed in this book (basically ideas regarding relativism), it does not hit to the strong theories of ‘social construction of knowledge’. I’ll go on looking forward to find alternative approaches.


Full CFP 4.2: Special on Gender relations in the media

October 8, 2011 § Leave a comment


Catalan Journal of Communication and Cultural Studies

Special Issue 4.2

Gender Relations in the Media: Conflicting Pictures and New Representational Practices

In the field of gender and communication studies, there is wide agreement on how significant media representations are in order to understand the way gender(ed) identities and relations are constructed. When media depict gender relations, they constantly produce meanings that reproduce dominant views on gender itself, yet they also build a space through which feminist discourses can be articulated and were new identities are created, thus grounding male-female relations more firmly in dialogue, respect and equality. Representations on gender (and gender relations) are not static, and we still aim to understand both the social and political context where such transformations take place.

This special issue aims to be a contribution to this relatively recent strategic nationwide/statewide interest in the study of both traditional media expressions of equality/inequality between women and men, and new media representational practices. Therefore, the Catalan Journal of Communication and Cultural Studies welcomes article proposals (coming both from Catalonia and other national contexts) on this central theme approached from either a more local perspective or a more transnational one. Possible topics might include:

– gender representations in media,

– mediated intimacy,

– gender and ICT, new media practices,

– representation politics,

– alternative media and feminist activism,

– gendered representations,

– employment policies,

– reception of gendered representation,

but not exclusively. Empirical studies and theoretical manuscripts, uni- and multi-disciplinary will be taken into account for publication.

The journal plans to include articles of around 6-7.000 words, plus short research notes and reports of around 2-3.000 words for the Viewpoint section. Full articles for proposed contributions should be sent to catalan.journal@urv.cat by 31 January 2012. Acceptance of papers will be confirmed by 30 March 2012. All contributions will be subjected to anonymous peer review. For more details about the journal guidelines and previous special issues content please visit:


Guest Editors for the Issue

  • Sofie Van Bauwel (Ghent University)

Professor of Communication Studies at Ghent University. She is part of the CIMS (Center for Cinema and Media Studies) and her main field of interest is gender and media. She is involved in several projects with a focus on media as signifying articulations in visual popular culture. She is vice-chair of the Gender and Communication section of the European Research and Communication Association (ECREA) and is part of the editorial board of the Journal of Media Theory and the Working papers series on Film and Television Studies. She is author of articles and books on popular media culture, feminist theory and film, which have been published both national and international.

  • Iolanda Tortajada (Universitat Rovira i Virgili)

Senior Lecturer of Communication Studies at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona (Spain), and researcher at ASTERISC (research group on communication) where she has focused on gender and communication. She has been the leading researcher of the R+D project “Media and Gender Violence: Catalysts or Factors for Prevention?” (2009-2011), funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation. She has recently worked on other closely related subjects. Her latest work deals with the media representation of sexual and affective relations, and women’s appropriation of mobile telephony.

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