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Social Constructionism and Theology (Empirical Studies in Theology) (Empirical Studies in Theology)
Name: Social Constructionism and Theology (Empirical Studies in Theology) (Empirical Studies in Theology)
Author: c. a. m. hermans
Pages: 348
Year: 2001
Language: English
File Size: 17.18 MB
Downloads: 0
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This book is printed on acid free paper. Librar y o f Congres s Catalogin g i n Publicatio n Dat a Socia l constructionis m an d theolog y / edite d b y C.A.M . Herman s .. . . p . cm . (Empirica l studie s i n theology , ISS N 1389 118 9 ; v . 7 ) Include s bibliographica l reference s an d index . ISB N 900412318 0 (clot h : alk . paper ) 1 . Theology , Practical . 2 . Deconstruction . I . Hermans , C . A . M . (Chri s A . M. ) II . Series . BV4 . S6 3 200 1 261.5 dc2 1 200104334 1 CI P Di e Deutsch e Bibliothe k CIP Einheitsaufiiahm e Socia l Constructionis m an d Theolog y / ed . b y C.A.M . Hermans.. . Leide n ; Bosto n ; Kol n : Brill , 200 1 (Empirica l studie s i n theolog y ; Vol . 7 ) ISB N 90 04 1231 8 0 ISS N 1389 118 9 ISB N 900412318 0 Copyright 2002 by Koninklyke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands Cover design by Jacqueline Heijmerink, Lochem All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, translated, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission from the publisher. Authorization to photocopy items for internal or personal use is granted by Brill provided that the appropriate fees are paid directly to The Copyright Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive, Suite 910 Danvers MA 01923, USA. Fees are subject to change. PRINTE D I N TH E NETHERLAND S


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CONTENTS Socia l Constructionis m an d Practica l Theology : A n Introductio n CHRI S A.M . HERMAN S vi i PAR T ON E SOCIAL SCIENTIFI C CONTRIBUTION S 1 . Socia l Constructio n an d Theology : Th e Danc e Begin s KENNET H J . GERGE N 3 2 . Implication s o f Socia l Constructionis m fo r th e Psychologica l Stud y o f Religio n JA N M . VA N DE R LAN S 2 3 3 . Conversio n a s Socia l Construction . A Narrativ e Approac h t o Conversio n Researc h ULRIK E POPP BAIE R 4 1 4 . Religiou s Developmen t a s Discursiv e Constructio n JAME S M . DA Y 6 3 PAR T TW O THEOLOGICA L CONTRIBUTION S 5 . Losin g th e Self , Findin g th e Self : Postmoder n Theolog y an d Socia l Constructio n MAR K I . WALLAC E 9 3 6 . Ultimat e Meanin g a s Silence : Th e Monologi c an d Polyphoni c Author Go d i n Religiou s Communicatio n CHRI S A.M . HERMAN S 11 3 7 . Huma n Discours e an d th e Ac t o f Preachin g GERRI T IMMIN K 14 7


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SOCIAL CONSTRUCTIONISM AND PRACTICA L THEOLOGY : A N INTRODUCTIO N CHRI S A.M . HERMAN S Withi n th e disciplin e o f practica l theolog y ther e i s a growin g self understandin g whic h i s movin g awa y fro m definin g thi s disciplin e a s applie d theology . Th e concep t o f actio n o r practic e play s a centra l rol e i n thi s ne w self understanding . Practica l theolog y start s it s the ologica l reflection s fro m practices , aim s a t empiricall y analyzin g prac tices , an d shoul d b e directe d toward s th e transformatio n o f thes e practices . Practica l theolog y aim s a t developin g a hermeneutica l action theor y (Heitink , 1993 ) o r a hermeneutical empirica l approac h t o huma n action s (Va n de r Ven , 1999 , p . 331) . Fro m thi s practice orientatio n ther e i s a stron g connectio n betwee n practica l theolog y an d th e socia l sciences . Thi s ca n b e compare d wit h th e stron g rela tionshi p whic h exist s betwee n th e exegetica l stud y o f th e hol y scrip ture s an d rhetorica l theor y i n literar y sciences . Socia l constructionis m i s a growin g theor y withi n th e socia l sciences . Ther e i s a rapidl y growin g bod y o f publication s wit h th e ter m "socia l constructionism " include d i n thei r titles . Wha t i s more , man y scholar s withi n th e fiel d o f th e psycholog y o f religio n an d th e sociolog y o f religio n adher e t o som e for m o f socia l constructionism . Fo r practica l theology , i t i s importan t t o reflec t o n thi s emergin g concep t o f socia l construc tionis m withi n th e socia l sciences . Thi s i s th e ai m o f thi s volume . I n th e introductio n w e wil l firs t introduc e th e emergin g self under standin g o f practica l theolog y inclinin g toward s th e stud y o f religiou s practice s (sectio n 1) . Afterward s w e wil l tur n t o th e theor y o f socia l constructionism . Socia l constructionis m i s no t a paradig m i n th e Kuhnia n sense . Socia l constructionis t scholar s shar e som e presump tion s abou t th e natur e o f socia l realit y an d th e wa y t o analyz e socia l realit y i n orde r t o revea l it s cultura l an d socia l dynamics . W e wil l giv e specia l attentio n t o on e o f th e mai n aspect s wher e socia l con structionist s differ , namel y whethe r ther e exist s a realit y tha t i s inde penden t o f ou r discours e abou t reality . Thi s topi c i s on e o f th e mos t contentiou s battl e ground s betwee n socia l constructionis m an d th e mainstrea m withi n th e socia l sciences . W e canno t introduc e socia l


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Vlll CHRIS A.M. HERMANS constructionis m withou t addressin g thi s problem. 1 I n th e las t sectio n (3 ) o f thi s introductio n w e wil l giv e a n overvie w o f th e chapter s i n thi s volume . 1 . Th e Practice orientation within Practical Theology Al l scholar s workin g withi n th e fiel d o f practica l theolog y agre e o n th e fac t tha t thei r disciplin e canno t b e define d a s applie d theology . Thi s ide a i s clearl y expresse d i n a recen t volum e b y leadin g scho lar s withi n th e Internationa l Academ y o f Practica l Theolog y (Schweitze r & Va n de r Ven , 1999) . Accordin g t o Osme r thre e element s o f prac tica l theolog y se t i t apar t fro m dogmati c theolog y an d Christia n ethics , namely : (1 ) a performativ e orientation , base d o n thi s literature' s interes t i n ho w bes t t o perfor m a particula r practic e o r activit y i n concret e circumstances ; (2 ) a theor y o f formatio n an d transformatio n guidin g th e praxi s o f th e Christia n lif e ove r time ; an d (3 ) a practica l theologica l hermeneuti c o f th e fiel d i n whic h a n actio n o r practic e take s place , locatin g th e actor s involve d i n mora l tim e an d space ' (Osmer , 1999 , p . 126) . Thes e thre e element s togethe r constitut e th e distinctiv e rationalit y o f practica l theology , whic h 'attempt s t o provid e reason s fo r ho w an d wh y t o perfor m a n actio n o r practic e i n a manne r tha t correspond s t o an d participate s i n th e praxi s o f God ' (Osmer , 1999 , p . 126). 2 Accordin g t o Brownin g (1996) , practica l theolog y i s characterize d b y a practice theory practic e mode l whic h break s th e applicatio n mode l tha t ha s onl y tw o elements , namel y theory practice . Theolog y 1 I n particular , w e wil l positio n Gerge n i n thi s debate . Gergen , wh o i s on e o f th e leadin g socia l constructionists , wa s invite d t o a conferenc e o f th e researc h grou p o f practica l theolog y an d socia l science s i n th e Netherland s i n Decembe r 1999 . Ke n Gerge n wa s on e o f th e speaker s a t thi s conferenc e organize d b y prof . Gerri t Irnmin k (Universit y o f Utrecht) . Th e ide a o f a volum e o n socia l constructionis m an d the olog y wa s bor n a t thi s conference . W e wer e gla d t o ge t th e interes t o f Gerge n i n thi s project . 2 W e wil l no t differentiat e betwee n practice s an d praxis . W e tak e a mor e abstrac t perspectiv e i n thi s sectio n an d subsum e thes e concept s unde r th e headin g o f huma n actions . Huma n action s ca n b e denne d b y th e fac t tha t the y ar e intentional , i.e . goal directe d (Searle , 1983) . W e als o ski p th e discussio n abou t whe n practice s o r praxi s ar e t o b e denne d a s religiou s practice s o r religiou s praxi s an d ho w thi s i s relate d t o Christia n practice s o r praxis . Th e meanin g o f intentiona l action s studie d b y practica l theolog y implie s th e binar y cod e o f transcendenc e versu s immanence .


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SOCIAL CONSTRUGTIONIONISM AND PRACTICAL THEOLOGY IX ca n b e practica l i f w e brin g practica l concern s t o i t fro m th e begin ning . 'Whe n a religiou s community hit s a crisi s i n it s practices , i t the n begin s reflectin g (askin g questions ) abou t it s meaningfu l o r theory lade n practices ' (Browning , 1996 , p . 6) . An d practic e als o return s afte r th e theoretica l reflections . Th e crise s i n th e practic e o f th e com munit y fro m whic h w e starte d ca n b e transforme d accordin g t o th e insight s tha t w e hav e achieve d (suc h a s chang e i n preachin g o r wor ship) . Thi s i s wher e theolog y get s practica l i n a ful l o r concret e sense . Brownin g (1996 ; 1999 ) speak s abou t a 'strategi c practica l theology' . Heitin k define s practica l theolog y a s a n actio n science : 'th e empi rical oriente d theologica l theor y o f th e mediatio n o f th e Christia n fait h within th e praxi s o f th e moder n society ' (Heitink , 1993 , p . 18) . I n relatio n t o hi s definitio n h e speak s abou t tw o type s o f praxis , namel y th e mediatio n o f th e Christia n fait h a s praxi s 1 an d th e contex t o f th e moder n societ y a s praxi s 2 . Praxi s 1 point s t o th e fac t tha t th e typica l objec t o f practica l theolog y i s th e transformatio n o f th e inten tiona l action s o f person s o r groups . Praxi s 1 ca n neve r b e understoo d withou t praxi s 2 . Sometime s praxi s 2 i s supportiv e o f praxi s 1 , bu t sometime s i t put s constraint s o n praxi s 1 . I t i s precisel y thi s interactio n betwee n praxi s 1 an d praxi s 2 whic h break s th e mode l o f practica l theolog y a s applie d theology . I t make s i t impossibl e t o reduc e th e objec t o f practica l theolog y t o predefine d theologica l categories . O r t o pu t i t positively , i t put s th e livin g fait h ('sensu s fidei' ) o f peopl e withi n th e contex t o f societ y a t th e cor e o f practica l theology . Va n de r Ve n posit s th e interactio n betwee n theor y an d praxi s startin g fro m a cyclica l or , rather , spira l model , namel y th e so calle d empirica l cycl e (Va n de r Ven , 1993 , pp . 157 224 ; 1999 , pp . 330 335) . Th e firs t phas e i s th e developmen t o f th e theologica l proble m an d goal . I n thi s phas e th e researche r participate s i n th e fiel d o f research o f th e subject s whos e live s sh e o r h e investigate s (fo r example , litur gica l practice s o f initiatio n i n a religiou s community) . On e canno t develo p a theologica l proble m an d goa l onl y fro m a n outsid e per spectiv e ('allo perspective') . I n th e secon d phase , th e so calle d theo logica l induction , thi s rathe r globa l conceptio n o f th e action s an d practice s i s specifie d b y a systemati c readin g o f theologica l literatur e i n clos e interactio n wit h th e action s an d practice s unde r investiga tion . Thi s phas e end s wit h a theologica l researc h questio n whic h i s alway s practice oriented : i t start s fro m a n understandin g o f th e prac tice s i n whic h peopl e ar e involve d an d aim s a t transformin g thes e practices . I n th e thir d phase , th e so calle d theologica l deduction , th e


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