Ary Vreeken, MSc (CHSc)
636 Hunts Crescent NW
Why Social Constructionism?
Working in community development in International and cross-cultural settings, Ary is fascinated by the relationship between language and meaning. His line of work necessitates him to try to ascertain how “local actors” have constructed their sense of reality, and how that relates to his view of the world.
Therefore, much of what we deal with in International Development concepts and practice is about social constructions: “Gender,” the “Environment,” peoples’ definition of “Health,” the notion of “Wellbeing,” the meaning of “Spirituality.” Much of his work entails learning what these concepts mean in each particular context, and then using this understanding to come alongside and work with local actors and other stakeholders.
Working together on a power-shared basis requires a level of consensus about our worldviews. Without this joint understanding, Ary’s actions are likely to be more neo-colonialist than transformative. Transformative Community Development is premised on a new joint narrative – one of what could be, rather than what is. This, in his mind, is Social Constructionism at its best: The joint construction of a new (better) reality.
This inevitably contains a Spiritual component, which is a special research interest of Ary’s. It is in the realm of Spirituality that differences in peoples’ sense of reality seem to be particularly poignant. It may well be that there is an Ultimate Reality “out there.” However, it is our attempt to describe and communicate about that Ultimate Reality that makes it into a social construction and, as such, negotiable.
And it is this that provides the hope for his work: NOT attempting to make “their” world more like “ours,” but rather the attempt to create a new joint paradigm about what “OUR” world could be like…
Ary is very grateful for the TAOS institute which has allowed him the opportunity to better articulate (and teach) this most important basis for true transformative human development