Franklin Olson


Social Constructionism in Community Development in the Spring Branch, Memorial Community of Houston, Texas

Franklin works in counseling and program development for a 6,000 member Methodist church in Houston. As he describes his dissertation, “It explores the role of archetypal symbol and myth in developing relational collaborations in a diverse community using qualitative action research. Social constructionist and appreciative inquiry methodology is used to bridge between various religious, ethnic, and economic groups to build relationships and social capital through identification of common archetypal themes and then acting on those themes through community action.

The central theoretical focus of the project is the proposition that meaning is not only constructed through inter-subjective referential realities (Rijsman, 1977) but also through inter-objective projected meanings onto archetypal symbols. The inter-subjective meanings to observers of archetypal symbols often lacks consensus of meaning between individuals and groups. This diversity of belief by persons can cause problems of co-ordination and can impede understanding and trust among observers and practitioners but also can result in believers and non-believers avoiding discussion of personal understandings of the symbol. From a positive view, archetypal symbols, because of some internal shared belief, can be the means by which persons suspend differences of the other and the associated symbol and coalesce around the symbol.”