Towards a realist social constructionism

  • Dave Elder-Vass


Social constructionism has often been seen as incompatible with realist approaches to the social world. This paper argues that critical realism is thoroughly compatible with moderate versions of social constructionism and indeed provides stronger ontological backing for it than the anti-realist approaches that are often associated with more extreme versions of social constructionism. The paper illustrates the argument by offering a realist account of how discourse may underpin processes of social construction. This is then applied to the case of the subject, an application that is framed as a critique of Judith Butler’s performative account of the subject.