Narratives of Constructivism

Constructivism sets out to aid our understanding of multi-faceted "socially-constructed worlds" as systems. Sociological and philosophical aspects are incorporated into the analysis. Within the system, interactions between the actors are constrained and understanding change by human agency is central to Constructivism. The mutual constitution of the actors, including their identity, is set by their power and influence within the system which is an interconnected social world. Identity - constructed by perceptions of community, culture, politics etc, -is crucial and defines actions taken by whom, with whom, and for what purpose. The "lived experience" of actors allows the formation of a narrative which can dominate how a project is viewed in the social world. Over-printed by global lived experiences (or "mainstream megatrends") that focus on pollution, the desire for sustainability, and climate change concerns, and influenced by more localised concerns such as water resources, the modern mining industry often implements counter-narratives that strive to position the real benefits of the project to obtain the social license, or acceptance, from stakeholders. Examples within these narratives include the creation of local employment, good stewardship of the local environment and respect for culture, and the transition to renewable energy (plus the integration of the actual mining products into the global energy transition itself). Well-made, early narratives which include all actors can be effective. But slips, or mistakes, in the appraisal of the impacts of a project can create negative narratives that are extremely difficult to leave behind - especially when "good" and "bad" identities and actors are baked into the social construct. By considering the theory of Constructivism when setting out its stall to advance a project, mining companies can understand their position in the social world and learn what to expect from those actors who desire a different outcome. We discuss in our accompanying video here.