Explain What Is Meant By The Term 'social Construction' And Consider How It Has Been Used To Further Our Understanding Of The Concept Of Identity.

1162 words - 5 pages

According to social construction it is through social interactions that people "act and react in relation to others, through these social interactions we learn what is acceptable and what is not. Over time these rules become internalized within us, and eventually become an unconscious part of our lives and our identity. It is the aim of this essay to explain what is meant by the term 'social construction' and how social construction has furthered our understanding of identity in comparison to other theories such as psychosocial and social identity theory.Social construction is used to describe how we as humans understand how the world is constructed in and through social relations; there are many different ways of understanding the same issue, rather than there being an objective reality. Our behaviour is regulated by guidelines, which make everyday life predictable and understandable causing us to behave in a certain way the way that is seen as the 'norm'.Housework provides a good example of a social construction being seen as the 'norm'; in "Western societies many people thought that it was 'natural' for women, rather than men, to do all the housework" (Phoenix, 2002, P69). "It seemed natural because that was what usually happened and had happened for as long as people remembered" (Phoenix, 2002, P69). This is "an example of a construction that was taken for natural because it had been the accepted pattern for a long time" But it wasn't until the feminist viewpoint argued for equality for women with men that it the idea that is not natural for women to do all the housework that another construction developed.In social construction, language is a powerful tool, used to justify a particular perspective, an example often used is that of "(Potter and Wetherell, 1987) which "illustrates this whether we call someone a 'freedom-fighter' or a 'terrorist', the "two terms can refer to the same person, each constructs a different way of viewing that person and the world" (Phoenix, 2002, p69). Social construction is an idea which may appear to be natural and obvious to those who accept it, but in reality it is an invention of a particular culture or society. "Language is fundamental to the processes of social construction" (Phoenix, 2002, P70), "the ideas we take for granted, how we treat each other and are treated, and power relations in sociality are all constructed through language. It provides the categories and concepts from which we created and maintain our ideas and beliefs, and is crucial to our interactions" (Phoenix, 2002, P70).According to social constructionists the focus should be on the influence of the social and cultural contest in understanding people's perspectives. Identities are constructed by people through social situations, their meaning and power relationships; it maintains that as humans we respond to the meaning of events and objects rather than the actual objects and events themselves, we construct a product of social interaction...

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