Converting into a New Reality

Social Constructionism, Practical Theology and Conversion

Srdjan Sremac

Nova prisutnost 8 (2010) 1, 7-27



In this article, the author attempts to bring the practical theological conversion research into dialogue with the theory of social constructionism. Such an interdisciplinary approach to religious conversion shifts the attention from the intra-psychic religious experience of the converter to the contextual understanding of conversion phenomena. The author emphasises that the narrative-socialconstructionist perspective enables a more complete interpretation of the conversion process. Furthermore, the author emphasises that the social constructionist approach to conversion research has its own perspective in the area of practical (empirical) theology as an interdisciplinary discipline. By using the postulates of social construction, the author believes that one should not reject the view that God is present in a conversion, nor that this should be questioned. Here, through the social constructionist approach and in conversion research, there is an attempt to create a dialogue with other social sciences. Interaction between social sciences and theological empirical research opens the door to a holistic understanding of the conversion phenomena where all researchers are welcomed to give their contribution. In the end, it should be pointed out that conversion is not just pure social construction. The experience of conversion is above social construction. Social construction cannot comprehend the experience of conversion without a dialogue, first and foremost a dialogue with theology. In a word, the aim of this work is not to give a whole explanation by using social constructionism only, but to invite an area of social constructionism into a dialogue with a discourse of practical theology.

Key words: social constructionism, narration, practical-empirical theology, conversion, context, language