Books by Kenneth J. Gergen

Playing with Purpose: Adventures in performative social science. Alta Mira Press. (2012) With M. Gergen.

Relational BeingThis volume begins with a critical challenge to the individualist tradition in which the rational agent serves as the fundamental atom of social life. Its major thrust, however, is to develop and illustrate an account of the person in which relational process is primary. As proposed, all intelligible activity - including claims to what is real, rational or good - have their origins in relationship. In this sense, relational process stands prior to the very concept of the individual. The volume then proceeds to reconstruct our view of psychological process, stressing in this case the way in which actions involving mental claims are embedded within relational scenarios. In effect, what we call thinking, feeling, believing and so on can only take place within traditions and practices of relationship. These ideas are then illustrated and applied to everyday professional practices, including scholarly research and writing, education, therapy, organizational development, and peace building. In a concluding section, issues of morality and spirituality are treated from a relational standpoint.

"This is a tour de force, a magnificent performance in its own right, a summing up of a shared lifetime passionately committed to pushing the boundaries of interpretive social science.  We dance in the spaces the Gergens’ words create. Performative social science moves into uncharted spaces with this brilliant work, a new starting place for all of us!  Duographic writing, performing theory, emerging genres, visual performances, relational art, teaching through performance – it is all here, and more."
- Norman K. Denzin
Professor of Sociology, Cinema Studies, and Interpretive Theory
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

"Charming, playful, and fresh. Performing Social Science reveals the promise of an embodied, emotional, and ethical social science that situates the performance arts at the center of inquiry aimed at understanding the fullness of what it means to be human."
- Arthur Asa Berger
Emeritus
San Francisco State University

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Relational Being: Beyond Self and Community

Winner of American Publishers Award for Professional and Scholarly Excellence (PROSE Award), Psychology, 2009 Winner of the Erving Goffman Award for Outstanding Scholarship in the Ecology of Social Interaction, Media Ecology Association, 2009

Relational BeingThis volume begins with a critical challenge to the individualist tradition in which the rational agent serves as the fundamental atom of social life. Its major thrust, however, is to develop and illustrate an account of the person in which relational process is primary. As proposed, all intelligible activity - including claims to what is real, rational or good - have their origins in relationship. In this sense, relational process stands prior to the very concept of the individual. The volume then proceeds to reconstruct our view of psychological process, stressing in this case the way in which actions involving mental claims are embedded within relational scenarios. In effect, what we call thinking, feeling, believing and so on can only take place within traditions and practices of relationship. These ideas are then illustrated and applied to everyday professional practices, including scholarly research and writing, education, therapy, organizational development, and peace building. In a concluding section, issues of morality and spirituality are treated from a relational standpoint.

"This is a powerful, richly nuanced, evocative work; a stunning and brilliantly innovative pedagogical intervention. It provides ground zero -- the starting place for the next generation of theorists who study the self, relational being, narrative theory, and the place of the moral and the sacred in everyday life. Relational Being is a stunning accomplishment by one of America's major social theorists, and a visionary work."
- Norman K. Denzin
Professor of Sociology, Cinema Studies, and Interpretive Theory
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

"Relational Being is a milestone on the road toward the Next Enlightenment—an enlightenment that re-constructs 'the bounded self' with an understanding of the primacy of relational being.  There is not a 'sounding' in this towering manifesto that leaves things as they are. Once we acknowledge that we are interwoven threads in the intricate tapestry of relational process—in which our destiny is among us as opposed to within—everything changes. If human connection can become as real to us as the traditional sense of individual separation, then our globally intimate future has a chance—there is that much at stake in this forward-looking, pragmatic and inspirational Kenneth Gergen classic!" -
- David Cooperrider
Fairmount Minerals Professor of Social Entrepreneurship
Weatherhead School of Management
Case Western Reserve University

"Ken Gergen, the most original and insightful social psychologist of my generation, offers a hopeful and fresh framework for scholars and practitioners seeking a meaningful, useful, and creative approach to the cultural, political, personal, and professional struggles of our time. Gergen uses a layered approach that reveals his own humanity at the same as it shows how social knowledge and social practices can be transformed by replacing their individualist traditions with a relational paradigm capable of opening lines of communication across different values and beliefs. Gergen introduces readers to the intricacies and significance of a relational world view and in the process forms a new synthesis of one of the most powerful ideas of the twenty-first century. Relational Being revitalizes social inquiry and shows how the relational world view can transform therapy, education, and politics. Professor Gergen writes with grace, compassion, and clarity and the story he tells is extraordinarily important and profound."
- Arthur P. Bochner
Distinguished University Professor of Communication
University of South Florida

"Ken Gergen's generous and intelligent work stands as a scholarly treatise on relational being as constitutive of human life and experience. It stands also as a call to moral action, suggesting that the wellbeing of our planet depends critically on our ability to vouchsafe relationships – those we create with each other, with other species, with our physical world, with the sacred. Speaking directly to his reader in a voice that shifts between scholar, practitioner, teacher and artist, Gergen animates connections between psychology, philosophy, poetry, and visual images in order to explain 'the generative process of relating'. This marvelous book contributes enormously to current dialogue on what it means to be human."
- Cynthia Lightfoot
Professor of Human Development and Family Studies
Penn State Brandywine

"Kenneth Gergen continues his quest for new ways to understand old psychological questions. In this important new book, he explores the possibilities for relational living. Reaching out to a wide audience, Gergen carries his enormous scholarship lightly, as he writes clearly, personally and, above all, wisely."
- Michael Billig
Professor of Social Sciences
Loughborough University

"A marvellously likeable book, Relational Being faces us with an urgent and profound challenge. Jettisoning individualism entirely, Gergen demonstrates the sense and virtue of understanding all aspects of human reality through the lens of relationship. This argument for a new Enlightenment is a brave and passionate tour de force from one of our finest social scientists."
- Benjamin Bradley
Professor of Psychology
Charles Sturt University, Australia

"In this important scholarly and practical book, Kenneth Gergen eloquently proposes an alternative to the Western tradition of the individual as a bounded being and to the reality of a distinct inner or mental world. Impressively, Gergen walks his talk: he writes in a 'multi-voiced author style,' keeping his presentation and discussion coherent with his relational thesis. A must-read for scholars, practitioners and the general public, this book gives promise and hope to our planet and our future well-being."
- Dr. Harlene Anderson
Houston-Galveston Institute

"This is a book with a large vision and a courageous writer willing to grasp the nettle and make an inspired attempt to take the concept of relational bvweing and apply it to the totality of our lived  experience."
- Heather Hill

Personal Communications:

"WOW! It is such a beautiful book. The tactile feel, the layout, the typography... It is so beautifully written, every sentence exquisitely crafted for optimal understanding and appreciation. I marvel at the breadth & depth...the amassing of such a wealth of information and thinking, and the rich and refreshing perspective. Your approach, sharing your own path of revelations & realizations, is so giving of thought & being."
- Deborah Curtiss

"Relational Being is an outstanding piece of work. Congratulations!"
- Spyros D. Orfanos, Ph.D., ABPP

"Relational Being is the most illuminating book I ever read in the field of psychology."
- Diego Romaioli, PhD

"I enjoy immensely the disturbing ideas and unusual presentation. A book that questions, suggests and makes one reflect. What more does one want!?"
- Yvonne Bonner

"I am profoundly heartened to find someone who so brilliantly communicates a vision for what calls (cries out, even) to humanity as the direction we must travel together, if we are to fulfill being human."
- Stuart Campbell, PhD

What a vibrant and rich articulation of ideas that has transformed my work. I especially appreciate the links to Buddhist concepts and the sacred.   
- Diane R. Gehart, Ph.D.

"Relational Being is one of the most exciting and thoughtful books I have read in a long time."
- Birgitte Lie Suhr-Jessen, Editor
Dansk psykologisk Forlag

See a sample chapter [pdf].
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An Invitation to Social Construction, 2nd edition

An Invitation to Social Construction, 2nd edition `An Invitation to Social Construction is a rewarding read for newcomers to social constructionist thinking and for those well acquainted with this view' - New Therapist

`Kenneth Gergen's new book, An Invitation to Social Construction, may be the best introduction to the scholarship on social constructionism available today - but that's not all it is. It is also an inspiring and optimistic vision of what we can do to create better lives for ourselves....Gergen's new book is a key book for you to read' - Amazon

`This book lives up to its title; it is indeed "an invitation". Where most "invitations" are more, "a beginner guide to..." Gergen really seems to be saying to his audience, "have a look at this, what do you think?" I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this slim volume to any student or experienced practitioner- we all need reminding regularly of our lack of ownership of the truth' - Society for Existential Analysis

`This book, written by one of the disciplines' leading scholars and proponents, provides an interesting and reader-friendly introduction to social Constructionism, which, unlike many other books concerned with social constructionism and related issues (eg Parker 1998), does not seem to address only an academic audience who are arguably already familiar with its underlying theory, general tenets and central debates....This is a facinating and stimulating book, and Gergen's positivity and passion for the perspectives he espouses are apparent in all it's pages' - Journal of Sociolinguistics

This new edition remains an authoritative overview of the field, but is now markedly more accessible. It will be invaluable to students and scholars looking for a sustained and engaing inquiry into the premises and practices of social constructionism. -Dr. Matthew Adams, University of Brighton  

See a sample chapter.
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Constructing Worlds Together

Constructing Worlds Together: Interpersonal Communication as Relational Process This collection of readings, reflections and invitations to dialogue makes Constructing Worlds Together: Interpersonal Communication as Relational Process a highly readable yet sophisticated text that is well-suited for today's interpersonal communication course. Theoretical essays, research reports, narratives and ethnographic studies, have been carefully selected by the authors for their clarity, intellectual stimulation and relevance to students daily lives. The authors introduce each reading and provide a preview of its insight, relevance, and association with social constructionist theory. Each piece is followed by a series of challenges and questions to help further understanding and to stimulate continuing dialogue, with an emphasis on interactive learning.
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Therapeutic Realities

Therapeutic Realities
"This is one of the most exciting books to appear in decades. Kenneth Gergen has identified some of the most pressing problems and promising responses for those who offer professional life counsel. I recommend this book with enthusiasm."
- Michael Mahoney, Salve Regina University
Author of Human Change Processes

"Kenneth Gergen has had a sustained and dedicated interest in the therapeutic world for over three decades. He has joined with therapists and other scholars around the world to explore the "consequences of intellectual work for societal practices," Written in a personal tone that is warm, inviting and positive, Therapeutic Realities is a must-read and a rich resource for those well-versed in social construction therapy practices and those newly exploring it.
- Harlene Anderson
Houston Galveston Institute
Author of Conversation, Language and Possibilities: A Postmodern Approach to Therapy

"Useful to both novice and experienced practitioners, this book offers a thoughtful and provocative invitation to reconsider many of the cannons of therapeutic practice. Gergen's purpose, however, is not to establish a new regime of truth, but to expand the options available to clients and practitioners. This is an important contribution to the discourse on the therapeutic relationship and the processes of personal change."
- Stanley L. Witkin
Department of Social Work
University of Vermont

"With Therapeutic Realities, Ken Gergen once again shares his astounding gift for surveying the landscape of contemporary social practice with a balance of rigorous scholarship, innovative thinking, and compassionate common sense. If you’re interested in deeply considered reflections on where the therapy field has traveled, along with visionary proposals for its future, this book belongs in your library."
- David Pare David Paré, University of Ottawa.
Co-editor of Collaborative Practice in Psychology and Therapy
Co-director of The Glebe Institute, A Centre for Constructive and Collaborative Practice.
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Ken Gergen on The Saturated Self:

The Saturated Self
"I begin this book with two central contentions: first, that we rely heavily on psychological language in making sense of ourselves and others, and second, that this language is built into many of our patterns of relationship. In effect we speak of thoughts, intentions, feelings, hopes, dreams, fears, desires, beliefs, and values, and without such terms we could scarcely get on in either private or institutional life. A love affair would not be a love affair without the language of the emotions; a criminal trial could scarcely proceed without the discourse of intention; and many religious institutions would erode if bereft of the concept of the soul. I then propose that Western discourse for understanding self and others is undergoing major transformations, and that as this language is altered, so are traditional patterns of cultural life."
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Horizons in Buddhist Psychology

Horizons in Buddhist Psychology
This book is for those who are interested in Buddhist teachings and all who seek routes to growth in human well-being, particularly therapists, coaches, and scientists. It is a vanguard work that sets a cultural revolution in motion by bringing the fruits of the Buddhist heritage together with contemporary therapy, systematic research, and postmodern thought. The volume contains 28 chapters by 38 contributors from 12 countries, and introduces a range of useful practices, evidence of their efficacy, and integrative theoretical deliberations. Its contents move toward a climax called New Buddhist Psychology.
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Realities and Relationships

Realities and Relationships
"In recent decades psychology has undergone a major revolution in its view of individual knowledge. As this account will reveal, psychological science now confronts an impasse, a point at which both the knowledge claims of the profession and the individualist view of knowledge sustained by these claims cease to be compelling. A retreat to the presumptions of earlier times seems precluded. What is needed is an alternative conception of knowledge and related forms of cultural practice. It is to exploring a social constructionist alternative that [...] this volume is devoted."
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Toward Transformation in Social Knowledge

Toward Transformation on Social Knowledge
"What is there to warrant the appearance of the second edtion? Why after more than a decade of creative ferment, should I not wish to see the present volume perish in peace?

These questions must be adressed from two standpoints, the first in terms of the sedimented traditions, and the second with respect to the more recent forces of centrifugal flight. In the former instance, it is simply the case that the empiricist traditions continues to remain stalwart within the socila sciences, maintaining a staedy grip over the future of the disciplines, shaping decisions regarding educational curricula, journal policy, hiring and firing cirtieria, the allocation of research fund, and the representation of the science to the society. Given the major aspirations of Toward Transformation in Social Knowledge, to challenge this tradition and to open possibilities for alternative futures, the need for this collection of arguments is no less vital today than at its first publication. Judging from the reactions of the readers who exhausted the supply of the first edition, the volume was reasonably effective in achieving its goals. It is hopeful to think that it may do the same now for a new generation of readers."
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Social Construction: Entering the Dialogue

Social Construction: Entering the Dialogue
A brief, highly readable introduction to basic ideas and practices in social construction. Recommended for undergraduates and practitioner audiences.
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Social Construction in Context

Social Construction in Context
Examines the positive potentials and limitations of the application of social constructionism to various intellectual and practical contexts. Illustrates the contributions and achievements of social constructionist theory to the social sciences and humanities.
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An Invitation to Social Construction

An Invitation to Social Construction
From a leading figure in the field, this introductory text forms an elegant overview of social constructionism that is both wide-ranging and accessible. In this landmark work Kenneth Gergen charts the background to the social constructionist movement and outlines the major debates, topics, and issues in a way that is at once profound yet highly redable. It is an interdisciplinary tour de force that will influence the development of teaching, research, and social practice for years to come. An Invitation to Social Constructrions is essential reading for all students and academics interested in social constructionism and contemporary issue and debates across the social sciences. It will also speak signifcantly to therapists, organizational specialists, educators, and others engaged in practices of social change.
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Historical Dimensions of Psychological Discourse

Historical Dimensions of Psychological Discourse
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Construccionismo Sociale

Construccionismo Sociale
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Social Construction: A Reader

Social Construction: A Reader
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El yo saturado: Dilemas de identidad en el mundo contemporáneo

El yo saturado: Dilemas de identidad en el mundo contemporáneo

Det mættede selv: Identitetsdilemmaer i nutiden

Det mættede selv: Identitetsdilemmaer i nutiden

Le constructionisme social: Un guide pour dialoguer

Le constructionisme social: Un guide pour dialoguer

Russian

Konstruierte Wirklichkeiten: Ein Hinführung zum sozialen Konstruktionismus

Konstruierte Wirklichkeiten: Ein Hinführung zum sozialen Konstruktionismus

Kope