Cultural Studies Terms/Constructionism

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Constructionism [kən.struk’shən.ism]

Main Theorists:

Ferdinand de Saussure, Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault


Constructionism means, that the meaning of something is not fixed and by using different representional systems we construct meaning.

The term 'constructionism' claims that meaning is constructed in the process of using language. The constructionist approach thus emphasises the social character of language: Meaning does not lie in the “true” nature of things (Reflective Approach), nor is it fixed by the speaker’s/writer’s own intention (Intentional Approach), but meaning is produced through using signs to communicate with each other and is never finally fixed. A Sign, according to Saussure, consists of two elements: the signifier and the signified, the first being the word or image, the latter the idea or concept in our heads.

While Saussure as a linguist focussed on language and its structure, his theories have also been applied to a wider range of representational systems.

Related Terms:

Structuralism, semiotics, discourse, social constructionism, strict constructionism,

External Links

>Ferdinand de Saussure (Wikipedia)

>Roland Barthes (Wikipedia)

>Michael Foucault (Wikipedia)

>Social Construcionism (Wikipedia)

>Strict Construcionism (Wikipedia)

>Constructivism and Constructionism