Relational Research (Trans)forming Practices

  • Sheila McNameeEmail author
Part of the European Family Therapy Association Series book series (EFTAS)


Both the inconsistency critique and the rampant relativist critique (anything goes) are hardline talking points for those who oppose systemic/constructionist ideas. They also unveil a lack of understanding about the philosophical premises of a systemic/constructionist orientation. The kinds of questions we ask focus our attention on the implications – or unintended consequences – of our communally constructed worlds. And, it is this attention to what our meanings make possible (or impossible) that is critical for systemic/constructionists. Relational research from a systemic/constructionist stance attends to the exploration of the implications of stepping into and embracing multiple understandings, not to proving anything to be true. Any attempt to prove the truth or facticity of one view over another recedes when we attempt, instead, to understand difference. Attempting to understand difference opens possible ways to move forward together. The systemic/constructionist philosophical stance presumes there will be multiple truths and is curious to attempt to understand how those truths were created and how they are viewed as coherent and rational. This small move toward curiosity is what distinguishes the philosophical stance of systemic/constructionist work and traditional research where it is believed that the right questions, explored with the right method, will yield the right answer. Relational research is premised on the idea that what comes to be labeled as truth or fact – what appears to be empirical about the world – enjoys that status only by virtue of communal engagement. Because we live in a complex and diverse world, the best our research can do is provide access to that diversity and complexity.


Systemic Constructionist Social construction Relational research Multiplicity Negotiated social orders 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of New HampshireDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Taos InstituteChagrin FallsUSA

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