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The argument that social constructionism proposes, with more or less insistence, about objects of social and cultural inquiry is in some sense the “other” to essentialisms of all sorts. To wit: Things—including even nature—are not simply given, revealed, fully determined, and as such, unalterable. Rather, things are made, and made up, in and through diverse social and cultural processes, practices, and actions. Much of the force of social constructionist argument is in this irony—its proposal that some assumedly taken-for-granted phenomenon not only could be otherwise but that its “local” form has a history that can be written to show a collection of interests, actions, and flows of power that have created and that sustain it. It seeks typically to show how some arguably social or ...

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