Social construction of reality analysis

Social construction of reality, otherwise in short referred to as social constructivism, is a sociological concept or sociological theory that looks into understanding of knowledge that has been constructed jointly. It assumes that whenever human being lives together; they interact to give understanding, meaning, and significance to their surroundings. The theory holds that everything that concerns the life of man will have a significance related to it. The theory also holds language dear, as a means that is used by the human system in its devising of the tools of constructing social constructivism. The assumption again made is that; rationalization of human beings in relation to their day to day experiences leads to the creation of a kind of social model world as well as a system of how this model will function. This paper seeks to examine the construction of social reality, to discuss it to explore the process of construction of things by sociologists. The paper will also explore the process of knowing how something as been socially constructed. Finally, we will look at social construction in relation to gender and race.

According to Luckmann and Berger (2), the social construction of reality focuses on two things in our lives. These are our everyday aspect of life, and our day to day social interaction. This is based on the fact that human beings must use language and communication in their day to day life. Their interaction gives meaning to their surroundings. These meanings are assimilated,and they undergo a societal test for some time and then they are adopted and accepted into the society. They thus became part of the pillars of society. Any new members in that society or visitors into the society have to identify and agree with these truths as per the way the existing society has put them to be, or in other words, the way the society has constructed them.

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Looking at social reality in terms of our everyday reality, one will appreciate a number of things. One is that consciousness tends to be intentional, regardless of its being part of a system of inward reality or part of an external kind of a metaphysical world (Luckmann & Berger 2). Secondly, the consciousness of the world appears is a system consisting of many different realities, for example, people in their job offices versus people in dreams. This explains in other words that, constituents of various spheres of reality represent different objects. Thirdly, that the unique reality of everyday life, is par excellence. By this, it means that we cannot ignore the tension created by the reality of everyday life. The confronting nature of this reality is viewed as normality and as the order of the day. Fourthly, the concept of everyday reality is orderly. It acts or happens as if it had a set objective. The objective is set by language, so that things can make sense, and so that it will be possible to derive meaning from this sense. By this, it, therefore, means that the coordinates of life are defined by language.

In everyday reality, the attitude of common sense is looked at as being the attitude of common sense (Luckmann & Berger 67). This can be explained by assumption that common sense is common to all and that anyone who does not hold commonsense dear is not walking in the reality that has been accepted and constructed socially by the society. Therefore, in a socially constructed system of society, there is no struggle in sharing or utilizing the concept of common sense. It is supposed to be self-evident in each one’s life. An assumption that is also made is that everyday life is transected into sectorial bits and that other sectors may present themselves as need arises.

Everyday interaction cannot be left out in social constructivism. Interchange of ideas through language is what keeps human beings close to one another. According to Luckmann and Berger, reality comes through face to face communication (54). Due to the uniqueness in people, relations and interaction has to be there, for them to understand one another. What the society makes sure it has done is to allow flexibility in relations, and change of patterns in interactions, so that one will respond to a situation as per the demands of that situation. Coming out of face to face communication, the information that was being shared loses identity. It is, therefore, essential that close contacts be maintained, so as to strengthen the bonds that build social constructivism.

One may wonder why we need social construction of reality. The answer to this is simple; we need it for communication. Without common standings on the realities of society, then communication is not possible. For example, now that a smile is an accepted reality of expressing love and happiness, one cannot use it to express anger, because this will be a miscommunication.

So how do sociologists know that something is socially constructed? The way human beings explain what happens to their interaction, and the result of their interaction tells it all (Wehr 25). Man, and the way he carries himself brings out an establishment of a social enterprise in sociology. According to Luckmann and Berger (27), man will always determine and construct his environment. The psychological components and the socio-cultural components of the totality of man lead to constructions that translate into the social reality. Without interaction, components of constructivism, even though they come from man, cannot be shared out by his biological morphology. Interaction, therefore, is an important component of social constructivism. The sociality of man is what is in emphasis here, because when he is solitary, he cannot form the aspect of the social. He is more in this state like an animal.The stability, order and direction that human beings establish, are the stepping stones towards social constructivism. Social constructivism is existent in form of institutions. For example, there is an institution of marriage. These arise as a result of the tendency of man to form habits.

According to Boghossian (1), something is said to be socially constructed, if it tends to show a dependence on the life aspects of our social beings. In other word, without the contribution of man in building that thing, then it could not exist (Boghossian 1). Social construction, therefore, will reflect the society that is in focus. It will depend to a great extent with what the society in question needs. This is clearly contrasted with naturally constructed things which cannot be changed by societies. They will take the same form, regardless of the society that is in the context, in the place of that natural thing.

The application of social constructivism, does not limit itself to the things that we have created, but also to the beliefs that we hold about them (Boghossian 2). We hold dear the social forces of the beliefs that form part of our system as human beings. The core idea of belief, however, requires to be elaborated. This is because, had we not existed, then we wouldn’t hold such a belief, and had we chosen another belief instead of this one, then the later wouldn’t be in existence. Therefore, it is important to attach different forms of vindication in differentiating beliefs and things as both are different forms of social constructivism. In terms of belief, the role it plays in our lives will be will be of vital importance, and with the metaphysical things, we ascertain that indeed something is real and that it is of our unique creation. The thing that has really been socially constructed cannot go against the laws of nature.

So, what is the social constructivism of race and gender? Social set-ups and definitions have been instituted by the human race to establish the institutions of race and gender. According to Simone de Beauvoir (The Second Sex, 1953), as quoted by Boghossian (2), gender role will never cease to exist, and they arise as a result of societal forces brought about by the forces of social constructivism. Further, scientific evidence cannot explain the concept of racial lines and their role in the society. Going by their social function and the spirit of social constructivism, we are able to explain the concept of race and gender.

Maria Power (3) argues that gender is a result of social construction. This she claims is as a result of the beliefs instituted by the social environment that characterizes the life of an individual. Another evidence of the role of social construction of gender is the fact that gender identity and considerations depend on a specific society. The way one society defines the role of men and women differs across social setups. The family values, religious background, cultural orientation, ethnicity and the historical evolution of a people, are among the determinants of their view on gender and race. This is an aspect of social constructivism.

Power asserts that sex is only a biological distinction of being male or female. It is determined by nature (4). It thus brings to us a clear visualization that gender is learned. Like race and class have been used in the past, gender too can form the basis of discrimination through categorization of people; another reason for establishing that gender is socially constructed. The attitudes that can be directed towards a group of people in the form of prejudice can be applied to gender without difficult, proving that gender is a form of creation by the human race; it is a product of social constructivism. Overt negative behaviors in the form of discrimination can be applied to gender I form of discrimination. This is possible only because gender is a creation of the people. This form of discrimination can be used to explain sexism, a form of differential treatment against a people judging by their sex.

Having funny characteristics and attributes towards a group of people for their sex, is a human ideology that is related to the creation of man. In other words, it is a narration that explains social construction of gender. According to power (3), beliefs and funny characteristics about women have been dominant in our country for centuries, though, in the recent past, the trend is encouraging. These attributes arose from the creation of man, and so; is their fading away. It is through campaigns by man that the gender roles have been revised, and this is an aspect of a social construction development.

A more integrative approach will be needed to appreciate the role of social construction on the evolution of race (Faucher & Machery 2). This is because of the influence that nature has on human cognition, and in to a greater extent, nature itself. For example, one may wonder how race is socially constructed, yet people classify others on the basis of metaphysical properties, that are to mean, color, body shape and appearance of the hair. One other difficult problem in explaining this is the fact that racism falls under different disciplines of learning. Therefore, different disciplines take different approaches.

However, the concept of social constructivism has been at the forefront in explaining the origin of racism.  The pseudo-biological aspect of race is one component in the social construction of race that is used to describe the inequality and mistreatment that exists between groups of people (Faucher & Machery 3).This has made social constructivism to a dominant view among the scholars of sociology and psychology. Appiah (75) as quoted by Faucher and Machery (3) asserts that the biological aspect of people has no bearing on race. He is a proponent of social construction on race. From about 10 decades ago, it has been argued that it is completely futile to apply the biological aspects of the species on human beings. One reason for this is the degree with which human beings vary, not only among themselves, but to a greater extent within themselves. It is true that classifying human beings by their physical traits like color, you will notice a difference. Therefore, the diversity and the characteristic instability feature of the human race can only be explained through social constructivism.

The theorists who have tried to argue or explain the concept of race and gender in other disciplines have faced difficulties. Failing to differentiate gender and sex, for example, is a challenge big to them. It is such challenges that have seen the proponents of social constructivism convince the world that their philosophy created race and gender.

We conclude that the social construction of reality refers to the components of the real world that the human race has created. Without man’s creation, these things cannot exist. Further, if the man wanted to create different kinds of things, he would have done so. Sociologists have studied the ways of implementation of social construction. They are able to determine whether a thing has been socially constructed or otherwise. Race and gender are socially constructed.


Works Cited

Boghossian, Paul, A. What is social construction? n.d. Web. 9th Dec. 2013

Faucher, Luc and Machery, E. Why do we think racially? Culture, evolution and cognition. University of Pittsburg, 2005. Print.

Maria, Power. The social construction of gender: Applied social psychology, 2011. Web. 9th Dec. 2013.

Luckmann, Thomas and Berger, P.L. The social construction of reality: A treatise on the knowledge of sociology. London: Penguin Books Limited, 2011. Print.

Wehr, Paul. Social reality construction. New York: CONFLICT Research Consortium, 1998. Print


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