Social Research Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012-20, Social Research Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 19 December, 2019 , © Lee Harvey 2012–2020.


A fast-paced novel of conjecture and surprises



core definition

Deconstructivism is a school of architecture based on the philosophical theory of deconstruction.

explanatory context

Deconstructivism in architecture, is also called deconstruction. It is a postmodern approach to architecture that began in the late 1980s.


It is characterized by ideas of fragmentation, non-linear design and illusion suggesting imminent collapse. There is a view that argues that deconstruction applied to architecture is not a new 'ism', or even avant garde, but a revelation and reassessment of the problematics that face all architecture.


This seems to be the only use of the term deconstructivism in the 21st Century. However, towards the end of the 20th century the term was in a formative state in relation to the notion of deconstruction and there was a lack of clear distinction between deconstruction and deconstructivism.


There is considerable debate as to whether deconstruction in literature, art or architecture constitutes an 'ism'. It might be said to be a distinct approach to literary criticism although the term deconstruction has been rigidly adhered to rather than deconstructivism in this context. In art, deconstruction occurs in modern art since post-impressionism as much of it has been directed to a reappraisal of taken-for-granteds of perception. In this sense, there is no specific deconstructionist approach and the term could be used loosely to refer to more-or-less any modern art since the turn of the century.


[In 1993 I noted that architecture may yet develop a deconstructivist style or approach, but as it is only just developing the ideas of deconstruction it is difficult to say whether this will occur.]

analytical review

Gardner quoted in (accessed 15 January 2013, still available 17 December 2016):

'Deconstruction in architecture proposes to disorient the observer. To this end, the conventional categories of architecture are set aside and our expectations based upon them upset. Order, harmony, balance, symmetry, regularity, clarity, consistency, continuity, completeness are replaced by their negatives: disorder, dissonance, and so on. We are meant to be confused by a haphazardry of volumes, masses, planes, borders, lighting, locations, directions, spatial relations and disguised structural facts. According to deconstructionist theory, it's the very absence of the assurances given us by habit and the traditional architecture that create the presence of a deconstructed building.' (Gardner) [quote unsourcd]

associated issues


related areas

See also




copyright Lee Harvey 2012–2020


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