A social construction is something that exists not in objective reality, but as a result of human interaction. It exists because people agree that it exists.
Some examples of social constructions are countries and money. It is easier to see how countries can be social constructions than to see how money is a social construction. Countries would not exist if it were not for human interaction. People need to agree that a country exists and agree with what a country is. Without this agreement, there could be no countries.
Even money would not exist without human interaction. If we think about objective reality, we might think that money exists. After all, we can touch paper or coins. However, unless people agree on what paper or coins are and what they can be used for, paper money is just paper and coins are just metal disks.
Why people create constructions
The theory of social constructs says that people create constructs to give meaning to the objective world.
One way people create social constructions is by structuring what they see and experience into categories. For example, they see people with different skin colors and other physical characteristics and «create» the social construction of the race.
Or I see tall plants with very thick stems that branch at the top and have growing leaves and «create» the construction of a tree. These two examples help illustrate how people use social constructs and how different some social constructs are from other social constructs.
Are there trees outside the social construction? If we didn’t agree to build a tree, would we see these plants differently? And the race? Is there a race outside of social construction? Would we treat people of different colors differently if we did not have the social construction of race?
Constructions can change
These two examples help illustrate the fact that a social construct can include values and beliefs that people have about the construct. People can change construction as they continue to interact.
Attitudes towards people with different skin colors have changed over the last 100 years and continue to change. The construction of the breed still exists, but what the construction means has changed.
Another example of social construction that has changed over time is the concept of gender. Just over 50 years ago, people believed that men and women had gender-specific roles, determined by biology.
Women are more loving, so they were best suited to be mothers at home to raise their children. Men were more aggressive and less loving and were better prepared to go to work and take care of the family. We no longer believe this about men and women.
The social construction of the genre illustrates debate to care for nature on human behavior . If gender is just a social construct, it means that men and women act differently just because society has dictated their roles to them. They learned how to behave and how to sound or look.
The «nature versus care» debate remains controversial when it comes to gender and gender differences. But most researchers believe that regardless of the role of inherent biological factors, environmental factors are a major influence that can affect the development of the brain itself.