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No Man Woman Essay

2182 words - 9 pages

Critical Realism and Social Constructivism: Homelessness in Australia







This Essay looks into the contrasts between Critical Realism and Social Construction, in relation to social issues in Australia. The social issue that is being tackled in this case is the homelessness in Australia. It explains the two phenomena in terms of the sociological perspectives on their difference and deviance. The content of this essay will be illustrated through different materials on the state of the homelessness in Australia. The structure of the Essay is in the form of arguments and evidences to back up those arguments.

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A socially constructed phenomenon is that which is dependent on certain variables of the society rather than that which exists as an independent fact. This exists regardless to the side of awareness the society may be in at a certain time (Jacobs, 2004).

In the recent past, slightly over a decade ago, social construction was a much talked about topic in journals and other publications. This has been accepted internationally as a methodology that was to be used in the various researches that had to do with housing. This has been used in several studies that deals with housing management, and has the advantage of having the view that practices and their policies have a connection to the ideologies of that particular time. Other issues such as discourses and attitudes also have the same connection (Fopp, 2008).

The contrast between Social constructionism and critical realism in relation to homelessness in Australia

The two schools of thought have varying approaches to dealing with social issues like the homelessness in Australia. The social constructionism methodology has enabled the policies and theories to be linked with certain interests that prevail in a certain period of time. This prevents incorporation of interests in several researches which are being taken for granted. The social constructionism has a potential of critique, whereby the policies and ideologies that are tied to a particular period exposes the underlying assumptions. This occurs when the assumptions and discourses can be identified and tied to their time and location. Their ideologies and interests are therefore based upon exposed for scrutiny, and hence criticism (Fopp, 2008).

There is a side of social constructivism that was popular with the housing researches. This was dubbed as weak social constructionism, for acknowledging that there were social realities which the practices and policies used in housing referred to. This is also because it rejected the relativistic implications of the ‘stronger’ social constructionism, which also questions the social reality, objectivity and truth among other notions (Kemeny, 2004).

Another position arose during the period of 1997-2007, which opposed social constructionism, and is known as Critical Realism in housing research. Critical Realism has been popular in its use in social sciences and in particular philosophy and theology. In social sciences like housing, the aspects of the weak social constructionism are being acknowledged, but the aspects of objectivity, truth and reality are very popular, with critical realists stating that without these notions, social science was impossible to carry out (Lawson, 2006).

Critical realism versus Social constructivism: Comparison

The critical realists can accept some aspects of the social constructivism. This is because the two theories share some common ground when it comes to the human and social knowledge basis, which includes social...

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