The social constructionist theory is also known as the social construction of reality. As a social concept, the approach is one of the theories of knowledge in communication and sociology theory. The approach evaluates the development of pooled constructed understandings of the universe. The theory displays significance, meaning and understanding that are developed in the harmonization of an individual with others (Kimmel and Holler, 2011). The major elements of the social constructionist theory are the assumption of rationalization and language. The concept assumes that people lessen their experience by building an approach to the social world as well as finding out how it functions. Moreover, the theory assumes that language is the vital system that is used by human beings to construct the reality. Furthermore, the main focus of the construct social concept is to uncover the means that groups and people participate in the building of the supposed social reality. Furthermore, the theory proposes that everything that individuals see or know as reality is partial if it is not entirely situated to social aspect(Turner, 2014).
The social concept originated with an attempt to come up with the real terms of the natural history of reality. The approach suggests that human beings realities are shaped via interactions and experiences with one another. The social constructionist concept is more of the direction towards knowledge, reality, identity, and truth (Kimmel and Holler, 2011). However, the theory hypothesizes that things like knowledge, truth, identity and reality are dependent on the political, economic, discursive and social processes. The theory has an influence on the grounded model since it is used to examine if the grounded theory can be used as a methodology. Moreover, the concept proposes that every person constructs the world of the experience mentally via cognitive processes. Furthermore, the social constructionist suggests that individuals have social rather than personal focus on the construction of world experiences. Also, the social construction theory is not interested in the cognitive phases that go hand in hand with the knowledge (Calhoun, 2010).
The creation of the social constructionist originated from the phenomenology and symbolic interactionism. Luckman and Burger published the book of social construction reality in 1966. The print of 1966 found the basis of the model (Calhoun, 2010). Four decades later various numbers of research and theories pledged to the main concept of social construction model. The model became widely used in the continent, and it has critics as well as the supporters around the sciences organizations. The constructionist theory appears to be more applicable to various managerial phenomena and organizations. Several influential thinkers had played a role in the development and acknowledgment of the social constructionist model.
Nature and Construction of Knowledge
The constructionist theory views truth and knowledge as created, but not discovered by the mind. Also, the approach supports that being a realist is not being consistent with becoming a constructionist. The approach suggests that perceptions are built rather than revealed yet they match with a certain real something in the universe. Knowledge is constructed by the interaction of people within a community. The experience of the society is subjective to reality and can only be achieved via primary and to the little extent through secondary socialization (Kimmel and Holler, 2011). Personal identity originates from the social realm rather than the inside. Socialization is done through the use of language as a medium. Language makes the thoughts to be possible by constructing concepts rather than transmitting thoughts. The language used by human beings antedates concepts and provide a way of structuring the means that the world is experienced (Calhoun, 2010).
Conservation is the major means of restructuring, modifying and maintaining subjective reality. However, subjective reality is made of concepts that can be combined unproblematically with each other. The social construction may be defined in various ways depending on the distinct individuals. The approach claims that gender is a socially constructed means. Gender is not an enormous product of biology, but it is highly dependent on the historical and social processes. The social construction suggests that our present understanding of gender is hurtful thus it should be eliminated or modified to the scope that is achievable (Kimmel and Holler, 2011). The concept argues that people refer the differences between women and men on the rigid ideas of sex that is a basic concept of biology. Moreover, gender should be understood on the basis that our society shapes the people understanding of the biological categories.
Realism and Relativism
The main criticisms that are directed toward the social constructionist are the relativism and realism. The theory is accused of refuting that knowledge is a straight perception of reality. The constructionist theory challenges the biomedical reality and clearly questions stable realities and self-evident but it provides little evidence to sustain the contention. For instance, the theory claims those diseases discoveries are social events but does not have an objective reality. The theory does not recognize an objective reality that makes the criticism common and widespread (Kimmel and Holler, 2011). Adopting the realist perception ignores the means that researchers use to interpret the findings and assumes what is reported is faithful and true. Relativism directs the researcher to a conclusion that there is nothing that can be identified for definite and there are multiple realities where no one precedence over the other. The confused claims concerning the ontology underpin the social constructionist. The claims undermine the theory since it describes a disease as a socially constructed occurrence but do not give any evidence of the ontological status. The ontological assumptions based on the social constructionist are incompatible with the idea of diseases causes (Turner, 2014).
Social Construction and Essentialist
Both social constructionist and essentialism are theories of sociology. However, the two theories have differences in their arguments. Firstly, the essentialism theory refers to the orientation toward knowledge, reality, identity and truth of things in the universe and beliefs that reality of certain things is within the innermost of nature or in their essence (Bartole, 2010). On the other hand, the social constructionist theory suggests that knowledge, identity, truth, and reality are dependent upon economic, discursive, political and social processes. Secondly, to understand the truth of a given concept aspect or category of reality, the essentialism theory suggests that we have to concentrate on the inner being uncovering. However, the social constructionist theory proposes that to analyze or understand a certain aspect of reality, we concentrate by tracing the cultural, social and historical factors that influenced the existence of the concept (McAdam & McReedy, 2012).
The essentialist arguments are based on the abstract categories such as beauty, truth, gender, race, human nature, history and morality. However, compared to the social constructionist model, reality emerges from certain social-political context and it probably entails different ways in which individuals relate to each other. Furthermore, the essentialism theory has got an analogous ontology that entails the assumption of the nature existence. The essentialist approach assumes that the universe contains things that exist independently from our perception and representation to them. On the other hand, the social constructionist argues that things in the universe are dependent upon the social aspects of individual and their representation (Calhoun, 2010).
According to the social constructionist theory, diseases occurrence are related social events. The theory does not give enough evidence that supports the ontology of the disease. The essentialism theory supports the ontology of the disease since it argues that the diseases are independent to aspects such as social and political (Kimmel and Holler, 2011). The social constructionist theory states that gender is not a biological means of describing men and women but is attained from the social aspects and how society categorizes the state of being a woman or a man. Furthermore, the constructionist theory suggests that based on the rigid biology ideas, gender is not a descriptor of an individual. The practice of gender is involved adherence to certain displays that are set by the society as well as learning the means through which gender is described by the society. However, the essentialism theory, gender is defined by the biological factors. The essentialism theory focuses on the reproductive organs to distinguish a female and male person. Moreover, the essentialist approach also focuses on the bodily differences of male and female for instance the muscularity (Bartole, 2010).
Social Construction of Gender
Sociologists tend to conceptualize gender according to the social constructionist theory rather than the biological determiners. Sociologists argue that gender is not the biological descriptive, but it is determined by the social aspects and relations. One is termed as a woman or a man depending on the traits that he or she portrays in line with the attributed displays that define gender in the social set up. People tend to learn about their gender depending on the society perspective and interaction. Gender is not about the biological features but the acquired trait that one possess. The issues surrounding gender are much complex. Gender is merely the quality inherent in every individual, and it is highly determined by the society institution, workplace, school, and families.
Like all other social identities, gender is socially constructed. The theory of social constructionist is one of the main theories that sociologist use to keep gender into a cultural and historical focus. The social constructionist concept stipulates that gender is not innate or fixed fact, but it varies across with place and time. The socially acceptable means of stipulating out gender are learned from the birth via childhood socialization (Kimmel and Holler, 2011). People learn what is expected of their gender from what their parents taught them as well as the growing in school, religion, media, cultural teachings, and various several social institutions. The gender experiences are gained over an individual lifetime. According to the social constructionist, the gender is at all-time influx. The influx attributes are shown by the intergenerational and generational changes within social, families, technology and legal influences on the social values of gender (Kimmel and Holler, 2011).
The gender concern is the way human beings society deals with the individual’s bodies and many results of the deal in our collective fate and personal lives. The social constructionist analysis of gender evaluates revolves beyond categories and evaluates the intersections of various identities and the blurring of the limitations between essentialist categories. The concept seeks to muddle and blur the opposite and binary categories of female and male that is presumed to be essential (Calhoun, 2010). The approach evaluates the gender and describes it as a nonessential category. Gender is not a stable descriptor of a person although an individual is always gender, deviating or performing from the gender stereotypes that are socially accepted. Doing gender is not about acting or behaving in a certain way. The act of doing entails believing and embodying certain gender norms as well as engaging in practices that adhere to the social norms (Turner, 2014). The internalized conviction that women and men are essentially different, makes women and men behave in a distinct manner.
Gender is considered as a category via the socially erected displays of gender. Practicing gender is merely a social relationship. An individual practice gender for the perception by the rest in a certain way either as a female, male or troubling the two categories. Since the categories are formed inside the social setting, the influence of gender is a social relation. Furthermore, gender is referred as an interactional but not individual, and it is developed through the social interactions. Also, gender is considered to be omnirelevant since people at all judge our behavior to be female or male.
The social constructionist theory is also referred as the social construction of reality. The theory main elements are language and assumption of rationalization. According to the social constructionist theory, reality is everything that an individual knows and it is situated in the society. The concept started with an attempt to find out the real terms that describe the natural history of reality. Moreover, the concept suggests that truth, knowledge, identity and reality are dependent on the discursive, political and social process (Kimmel and Holler, 2011). The concepts are built rather than discovered. The knowledge is created through the interaction of various individuals. Moreover, the personal identity begins from the social realm but not from innermost. The constructionist theory uses conservation as the main means of restructuring, modifying and maintaining subjective reality.
Despite being used by different sociologist in the world, social constructionist approach faces criticism of relativism and realism. The concept refutes that knowledge is the straight perception of reality. The theory claims that diseases discovery are social events, but it lacks the ontology evidence to support the argument (Bartole, 2010). The refusal to recognize objective reality makes the theory somehow shaky on the matters regarding disease occurrences. The adoption of reality perception during the research may lead to unclear conclusion as well as fake assumption when interpreting the findings.
The social constructionist theory differs greatly with the essentialist theory. The essentialism argues that reality of certain things is found within the innermost of nature or their essence. However, the constructionist suggests that reality is dependent upon the discursive, political and social processes. Moreover, the essentialism has got analogous ontology evidence but the constructionist does not. According to social constructionist, gender is not a descriptor of the human being as based on biological beliefs. Gender is developed through interaction with other people and is considered to category through the socially erected displays.