What does social construction really mean?

One idea very commonly misunderstood online is the idea of social construction people

Assume that to say that something is socially

Constructed is to say that it isn't real that it shouldn't exist or that it has no effects on the world

Some people think that to say anything is socially constructed is to subscribe to some kind of conspiracy theory or to imply

Some dangerous relativism but this is not the case here are some examples of things that are pretty much

Uncontroversially socially constructed the state money law

Borders national cultures, what do all of these have in common that they are constituted by

social relations outside of which they cannot exist

That they developed historically and that of these social relations were different these things could exist in a completely different form or not

Exist at all online i've seen, people, asking things like if gender is largely a, social construct, why

Would someone identify as transgender or how can you be racist of race as a social construct

Questions like these clearly misunderstand what claims of social construction imply you probably wouldn't, ask

Someone if money is a social construct, why, do you, want to earn more money in this video i'm not

Going to argue the gender or race are social constructs but

Merely try to explain such characterizations in a broad and hopefully in controversial way the people

Asking the questions that i quoted seem to think that if something is socially constructed

Then it is not real or that it has no material effects on the world but this is not the case

For example sally hassling er a professor of linguistics and philosophy

Subscribes to what has been called critical realism she believes that race and gender are social constructs yet are still

Real meaning truth apt that claims involving social construction can, be true or false

natural that social constructs are part of the causal order and

Objective meaning subject to empirical inquiry

This already

Disproves one of the misconceptions about this topic

That claims of social construction have to entail relativism the rules of chess for instance are socially

Constructed but in deciding the winner of a. Chess match, we can, give an objective and non relative answer money is a social

But, we still can objectively?

Answer the question how much do potatoes currently cost at the local market in fact let's take a closer look at money a

Very real thing something that undoubtedly affects our lives and the things around us and it is imbued with value

You can, exchange it for things you can, use it to receive services so in what sense is it a social construct

Well in order for example for a dollar bill to have value and those become money it requires a set of social institutions

Ones that print and circulate money once that

Legitimize it as a currency and the market in which buyers and sellers acknowledge the dollar is having exchange value

This, value is not material but socially constructed you can't find out how. Much a dollar bill, is worth

By, cutting it open

And looking inside by examining the material it's made of by viewing it through a microscope or examining the combinations of atoms it has

instead you must look at the social relations that it depends on and

The social relations that it produces and if you went back in time to a society with entirely different

Social relations with no currency

Your $100 bill would not be viewed as imbued with exchange

Value but as a mostly useless piece of paper because of this we can, safely say that money is a social construct

Does it mean that money isn't real, no if you, type, social construction into

Google the first suggestion that comes up is social construction of reality

This refers us to a book

By, peter l berger and thomas luckman the social construction of reality


Has been given as an example of - what a ridiculous extent social construction claims have been taken could you believe it the social

Construction of reality itself however you only have to read the introduction of the book to see exactly

What questions they, seek to answer what is real how, was weren't to know? These are, among the most ancient

Questions not only a philosophical inquiry a proper but of human thought as such it is therefore important that, we clarify at the

Beginning the sense in which, we use these terms in the context of sociology

And that we immediately disclaim any pretension to the effect. That sociology has an, answer to these ancient

Philosophical preoccupations it is our contention then that the sociology of non most concern itself with

Whatever passes for knowledge in a society

regardless of the ultimate validity or invalidity

By, whatever criteria of such knowledge in other words, we have to distinguish here between

philosophical inquiries and

Sociological inquiries social construction although it has philosophical implications and can

Be subject to philosophical inquiry is a term that is mostly in use in sociology?

When a philosopher inquires about reality, they will, ask questions such as, what is the nature of reality?

What constitutes reality how if at all can, we know about reality on the other hand a sociologists would ask

Questions such as how, was the word reality used in social situations how

Are our ideas about reality socially formed what are the social effects of our ideas about reality

We see then that although philosophical inquiries and sociological inquiries on the subject can often intersect

They are different approaches berger and luckman in this book are, not answering questions

About what kind of claims about reality are valid

Or what the ultimate nature of reality is but the social relevance of these concepts


Brings us to another distinction that should be pointed out there is a difference between claims that the idea of something is socially constructed

Which is called idea construction and claims that something itself is socially constructed

Which is called constitutive construction in the case of money it can be an example of both

constitutive construction and idea construction it is

Constitutively constructed in the sense that it cannot exist outside of social relations that validate it it is also an example of idea

Construction because different people have different ideas about money and these ideas affect. How

They act in social situations for example if you adopt

The idea that money is the root of all evil you are a lot

Less likely to set earning money as one of your life's prime goals on the other hand let's think of alcoholism

We could say in a trivial sense and for simplicity's sake

That alcoholics themselves are not socially constructed

Whether you drink copious amounts of alcohol or not as a matter of fact even if you live

Alone in a forest outside of all social relations

however the idea of an alcohol olek the categorization

alcoholic is

Undoubtedly socially constructed for instance it can involve the idea that alcoholism is a disease

Or it can involve the idea that alcoholism is a moral failing in this sense the idea of?

Alcoholism is socially constructed but it is important to see that even idea construction can

Have real effects on the world if the idea of alcoholism is constructed as a moral failing

We are more likely to blame the alcoholic

And even punish them but if we construct the idea as a disease we are likely to treat the condition in an entirely different


Social construction is part of the causal order and it is not to be taken lightly because even in cases of idea

Construction such as the alcoholism example the way, those ideas are constructed, changed the way?

That people labeled under those constructions see themselves and thereby, how

They act at this point the discussion gets more and more complicated so i will stop there

but i suppose i should end by addressing the question of why, social construction claims are so politicized

It's important to remember that humans have a tendency to see the social relations of their time as

Default and natural it is obvious to most of us now

I, would hope that for example slave as a natural category is a social construct. But, this, was not always the case

Aristotle believed that slavery is natural and that some people are simply, born to be slaves in the same

Way as contingent as it may seem now the rule of kings used to be justified

By, divine right to say that a given social order is natural can, be a political argument

Likewise to claim the contrary can be political as

Well claims of social construction are often intended to make us avoid that mistake that past cultures have often made of

assuming that our way of organising things

is the natural one e'en hacking distinguishes between several types of social construction attitudes the minimum one is

Historical that something is simply constituted socially and through history with


Value judgments being involved in the attitude this is what a lot of historical research is meant to be like then there is the?

Ironic kind we know that something is socially?

Constructed but it is such an ingrained part of our world that

We simply in most cases have to act as if it is not then

There's the reformist kind something is socially constructed

And also bad and although we cannot do away with it we should try reforming it in order to make it less

Bad then there's the rebellious kind not only is something socially constructed

We would in fact be better off without it?

If a person recognizes this and then actively tries to change the world to get rid of the construct this becomes a revolutionary attitude

we can

See how it took a very long time for the category of natural slave

to reach even the minimum kind of social construction claim, that is

Historical in the us when the abolitionist movement started becoming. Popular

Many, people implicitly recognized that slavery is socially constructed

But made claims that abolishing it would have terrible effects on the economy and the social order and

So, many saw even the reformist attitudes to slavery is dangerous to say that a

Social phenomenon is natural can be a very powerful political argument and should be met with caution claims of social construction can

Help us avoid, taping the social relations, we live in for granted and this is precisely, why, the people

Who most aggressively renounce all claims of social construction are often, also those, who politically support the status quo

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