Knowledge is socially constructed … So what?

Recently, we interrupted our summer vacation to attend a talk by the “critical” scholar Yves Gendron, who presented his 2013 paper “Rethinking the concept of the research contribution.” His paper is very thoughtful and well written, but his conclusions are banal and unoriginal. In brief, he concludes that what counts as a contribution in a given field is socially constructed, that “the concept of contribution is unstable, ambiguous, contradictory and relative” (p. 15). To this, however, we respond: so what? Even if all research in a given field is “social constructed,” who cares? What we really should be asking is whether a piece of socially-constructed research is good or bad. To this deeper question, Professor Gendron and his social constructivist colleagues still offer us no meaningful or “reflexive” answer …

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