Social Construction

In chapter 2 of Surette, Social constructionism is a sociological theory of knowledge that consist how social objects of consciousness work in social contexts. There is often a debate about whether something is “real” or if it’s “merely” a social construct. For instance, If you believe social constructions aren’t real, then please take out all the bills in your wallet and pass them up to me. Money is an example of a social construction that plays an extremely important role in our everyday lives. All those paper bills and coins are “just” paper and metal, and all that money in your bank account is “just” some numbers in a computer.

Think about that for a moment. You may ruin the economy construction, which is assumptions on based on reality, knowledge, and learning. Social construction has several factors that happen daily such as language, symbols, color, food, gestures, and people. Social construct may apply with language because certain sounds in languages have certain meanings when communicating. This would suggest that language is a social construction created as a patterned system of communication. Reflecting our social context it follows that language is culturally.

The forms and the categories of language reflect the social codes of the society in which we live in. The French led the way on the deconstruction of language, viewing it as a socially class conscious voice of influence. However, Karl Marx was really the Post-Structuralists and the Post-Modernists who viewed language as a powerful tool of class consciousness and clandestine class control. In short, language brought about a “cause and effect” process. In the very early writing, he took the function of language as a system of maintaining society’s class structure status quo.

Society has supported this argument by looking at early writings, and asserted that literature was written and viewed by the privileged, and its purpose was to keep language and knowledge as accessible only to those who were given to understanding the social-cultural content. Symbols are another social construct when an object stands for another thing in a different culture. Symbols are daily reflections of social construction because society is assuming that these symbols have a meaning when in reality they might not.

Social construction may occur through billboards, traffic signs, magazines, and daily illustrations that are seen. In billboards and magazines it can sometimes illustrate a picture for a certain type of symbol which is not factual in reality. Society must be careful and not assume that the symbols are fully true. Color is socially constructed when a certain color is associated with certain ideas, things, or groups of people. For example, In America people believe blue is the color for a boy and the color pink is the color for a girl, which is not true in reality.

Although, many people agree that color is highly communicative and carries various interpretations, the discourse on the rhetoric of color tends to extend these values to colors conventionally labeled as neutral. Moreover, the concept of color is usually not a concept that some people find worthy of thought at all. Society agrees that neutrality exists, but as a rhetorical social construct formed from historical, cultural, and social contexts. Food is socially constructed when there is a set time for a certain type of meal during that time of day.

For instance, the common food for breakfast is eggs, bacon, and maybe toast in the morning. For lunch the common food is something small such as a sandwich in the afternoon, and dinner is usually a full course meal in the evening. Also, food is constructed when it is categorized by culture. In society, food is constructed by your culture. If you were not from America and wasn’t familiar with the food that is called social construction because there should be a large variety of choice of food to eat from. However, America itself has gotten better with diversity and foods.

Allowing citizens to explore and try other foods in different cultures. Gestures are socially constructed all the time. There is a meaning for a lot of gestures and there is a different meaning also. For example, In different cultures “thumbs up” may not necessarily mean doing good as it means to us. Therefore, gesture meanings mean different meanings to everybody; to avoid conflict it’s best to know your surroundings before making any social gestures. Gestures are actions that created by a group of people and they are given a meaning.

Most people in a society can agree on what a gesture means. However in a different part of the world that particular gesture that is well known in one country for the example the thumbs up gesture may have a completely different meaning in another part of the world, or even no meaning whatsoever. The most important social construction is people. People create categories and ideas about how these people in those categories act. However, society assumes that women are more into shopping then men are. These are called stereotypes which cause discrimination and racism.

Social constructionism accepts that there is an objective reality. It is concerned with how knowledge is constructed and understood. It has therefore an epistemological not an ontological perspective. Criticisms and misunderstanding arise when this central fact is misinterpreted. This is most evident in debates and criticisms surrounding realism and relativism. Social constructionism places great emphasis on everyday interactions between people and how they use language to construct their reality. It regards the social practices people engage in as the focus of enquiry.

This is very similar to the focus of grounded theory but without the emphasis on language. Social constructionism that views society as existing both as objective and subjective reality is fully compatible with classical grounded theory, unlike constructionist grounded theory which takes a relativist position. Relativism is not compatible with classical grounded theory. Therefore, choosing constructionist grounded theory based on the ontological assumptions of the researcher seems incompatible with the idea of social construction.

Social construction is important because it’s collectively held beliefs that society agrees on and is hard to change. It’s almost as if you were trying to change the value and meaning of a dollar bill. Changing social constructions does happen when society actively renegotiate meanings. Two examples of sort would be “Obama’s fist bump” and how celebrities are trying to change social construction by males wearing colors that society isn’t use to seeing. Obama’s fist bump was labeled as a gesture relating to terrorism while Obama and The first Lady “fist bumped” after a speech.

Obama was not pleased this comment and discussed to society how he did not mean any terrorism or confusion; it was just a friendly greeting fist bump to his wife. Celebrities are a huge influence on our people in society. They could determine how we dress and act towards each other. Several celebrities have took initiative to change the social construct on colors that males should wear by wearing girly colors that we don’t expect males to wear to make it acceptable for others. The strength version of social constructionism removes the distinction of knowledge and socially constructed through action and speech.

This position is easily used number of ways. It may be difficult in some cases to draw a clear distinction between brute and institutional facts; one can’t argue that there are clear instances of facts that do not rely on social convention. Also, this is to accept the basic premises of the strong version but to argue that the consequences are either trivial or incoherent. The weaknesses of social constructionism are the lack of knowledge and diversity. It’s necessary for structure in society but truth is also important. People get so caught up in social construction that they start to believe that these assumptions are the only truth.