Essay Example: Social Constructionist Approaches

Published: 2019-09-16
Essay Example: Social Constructionist Approaches
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Gender Sociology Sexes
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1675 words
14 min read

This essay will examine some related dimensions to sexuality, gender, and physicality that are inclined to sociological worries and might be deemed as social constructionists. Social constructionists in the form of ethnomethodology, materialist feminism, historicism and symbolic interactionism. By acknowledging that social constructionism is diverse rather than unified, we determine that each of the dimension it takes provide with the strengths in analysis of technicalities with regards to physicality, sexuality, and gender.

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Close analysis of the aforementioned approaches and its critiques will assist in restating sociologys precise contribution. Social construction is basically to emphasize the dependence of something with regards to contingent dimensions of our social lives (Andrews, 2012). This is to say that something would not have existed had we not built it. Social constructions go further and argue that the existed thing in question would not have been built even in the first place and not at its current status (Shogan, 1998). This concept adopts the mentality that had we been a different society in place with varied interests, needs, and values we would have brought into existence a different kind of idea or developed the current one differently (Kim, 2014). The inevitable contrast with this theory is naturally existing objects created by God which as human beings we did not have any influence in its creation (Cromby, 1999).

Examples of things that have been social constructed include citizenship, money, newspapers among others. The aforementioned examples would not have been in existence of the society. Similarly, the society would have opted to construct them differently during their inception. As one scholar Ian Hacking puts it, social constructionism does not only entail the talks about worldly items such as facts, things, and kinds but also what we believe about them. Talk of social construction as a belief, however, entails at least an explanation of the main idea. Concerning our beliefs about Dinosaurs roaming the face of the earth, it is without a doubt evitable that we should have concluded into this belief. We would have possibly not considered the question in the first place. Since we considered it, we might have arrived at a contrary conclusion, for a range of causes; we possibly would not have discovered the relevant proof, we would not have had an interest in knowing the truth or still we might not have been as smart as making the discoveries (Norman, n.d.). These illustrations leave one with boring sense in which any of his beliefs has the likely possibility to be dependent on fact about us. The crucial question entails the role of the social putting all the aforementioned factors into account. That is to say that one should keep his intelligence and skills fixed and strive to learn the real truth about it.

It is, however, important to differentiate between a constructionist argument that is spearheaded to things and facts and the claim directed at beliefs. The former amounts to a metaphysical argument that something might be real but of our perception. On the contrary, the latter amounts to the epistemic argument that the right explanation for the reason we have some given belief has to do with the role the aforementioned belief plays in our daily lives. In addition to that, there is the human naturalism which entails both nonanonalism and methodological naturalism. Nonanonalism states that human beings with their culture and society as a whole are natural things that can be explained by the world. On the other, methodological naturalism involves studying human nature, human culture, social life and the norms of real science to be applied (Shamai, 2003).

Through analysis of this process we can gear towards enhancing a set of tools that make self- constructionism and help in addressing multilayered features of the social as a whole, physicality, sexuality and gender to be exact (Marin, 1998).

Historicism can be defined as social constructionism with regards to history or the past rather. There are quite a number of historical findings for the construction of sex as it is. Similarly, this problematizes the perceived self - explanatory evidence of female and male classified as either cultural or natural. A scholar, Laqueur Thomas claimed that the female vagina was viewed as an inverted penis by medical illustrators. From this information, he states that our current comprehension of two separate sexes emerged in the eighteenth century. This comprehension entailed the development of a one sex model where the female sex is viewed as an inside out variation of the male sex. Hence the social position of males and females was determined by biological differences. He further explains how the definitions slated to bodies have changed historically in important aspects (Brickell, 2006).

Material feminism integrates some impulses from radical feminism and Marxism. Material feminism has two aspects relevant on social constructionism. First, it gives theoretical prominence to social systems in place. Secondly, it arises from complex structured social procedures, the forms sexuality coupled with gender takes are just but effects and not the real causes of inequality.

Other authors have examined the historical construction of sex through the research and study of intersex or simply hermaphroditism. This research also touches on the way we view categories such as homosexuals and heterosexuals. The two categories are central on our current perception with regards to sexuality. Much of the work with regards to the historical construction of current sexual identities is associated to the rise of the sexology during the nineteenth century. Social construction is largely responsible for the growth of theoretical and Empirical work in the history of sexuality. The attempt to look at the history of sexuality has to lead to deep conversations amongst sociologists, anthropologists, historians to discuss the issue above. Moreover, social constructions dimension bring attention between historically variable modes under which society and culture construct.

Social construction with regards to gender forms yet another topic for argument. Gender issues are so pervasive in the society that many perceive it as being bred in their genes. Many persons constantly fail to believe that gender is borne and re-borne out of social livelihoods and human interactions. Gender is a familiar part of normal everyday life that usually that in many instances take an intentional disruption in our expectations of how both sexes are supposed to act to pay attention its production (Giddens, 2013). Gender signs are so obtiquous that in many instances we dont see them, unless they are ambiguous. Similarly, human beings are always uncomfortable until they have placed their fellow human beings in gender status. Failure to undertaking this leads to social dislocation (Martina, 1997). For an individual, gender construction is primarily characterized with the assignment to a sex group by genitalia one possesses. Sex categories thereby become gender status via dressing, name and use of other known gender identifications. Once a child gender is in the open, others treat those in the opposite gender differently, and the child responds by behaving differently. As soon as they have learned the art of speech, they begin identifying with members of their gender. At adolescent age, boys and girls avoid and at times approach each other in a well -crafted mating game (Anderson & Holt, 1990). Similarly, Parenting is gendered too with both mothers and fathers having different expectations of their childrens future. All these constitute to the social construction of gender (Vance, 1989).

Social construction advantages are recognized through comparison against contemporary mainstream literature in medicine and sexology, seemingly archaic chiefdoms whereby the body plus its imperatives are still in control. Another advantage is that through the enthusiasm it has created over the years, it can always be used to evaluate and solve current problems in social construction. However, social construction has its critics too. Some critics fault that this theory to implying that gay, lesbian identity is factual, real or important for that matter. Similarly, other critics of social constructionism believe that it is a nominalist (Edley, 2001). That is to say, it is mostly concerned with the naming of categories, individual persons, social forms or situations. Consequently, this is believed to lock out the factual existence and significance of sexual identity and gender (Lorber, 1994). Besides that, social constructionism theories at the time believed to deal with collective experience or the factual individual.

In conclusion, social construction dimensions to issues offer important tools for examining the definition and planning of the social life. By brainstorming about the complexities of social constructionism, one can clarify and identify its forms as variable and precise knowledge. In adopting this, one becomes more critical towards both the approaches of the theories he or she is employing. This is with respect to the social world one pursues to understand during the whole process.


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Boghossian, P. A. (n.d.). WHAT IS SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION? .

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Cromby, D. J. (1999). Social Constructionist Psychology. Open University.

Giddens, A. (2013). Gender and Sexuality. In P. W. Sutton, Sociology.

Kim, B. (2014). Retrieved from

Lorber, J. (1994). Night to His Day. The Social Construction of Gender.

Martina, M. (1997). The Social Construction of Sexuality; Personal Meanings, Perceptions of Sexual Experience.

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Vance, C. S. (1989). Social Construction Theory; Problems in the History of Sexuality.

Marin, A. (1998). A social constructionist view of the psychology of gender. Psyccritiques, 43(10)., N. (2001). Unravelling Social Constructionism. Theory & Psychology, 11(3), 433-441.

Anderson, L. & Holt, M. (1990). Teaching Writing in Sociology: A Social Constructionist Approach. Teaching Sociology, 18(2), 179.

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Norman, Z. Reflection on Social Constructionism: Meaning and Perspectives. SSRN Electronic Journal. (2008). Retrieved from Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy. (2008). Retrieved from encyclopaedia.

Shamai, M. (2003). Using Social Constructionist Thinking in Training Social Workers Living and Working under Threat of Political Violence. Social Work, 48(4), 545-555.

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