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Basic Concepts: Social Construction. Basic Concepts. Social Construction – a tool for social scientists to make sense of individuals and society. Social constructions are historically, geographically dependent.

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basic concepts
Basic Concepts
  • Social Construction – a tool for social scientists to make sense of individuals and society.
    • Social constructions are historically, geographically dependent.
    • They are engrained in institutions, ideologies, and perpetuated by human differences.
social constructions
Social Constructions
  • Race – “a concept invented to categorize the perceived biological, cultural, social differences between human groups.”
    • Historically, the concept of race has been attributed to biological differences in human beings (skin color, hair type, eye color, etc).
    • However, the larger significance to the concept of race is the role it has played in creating social hierarchies.
    • Because of race, entire populations of people have been defined/labeled/read as non-human, foreigner, and less valuable than other ‘races’.
social constructions1
Social Constructions
  • Racial formation – “the process in which social, economic, and political forces (institutions and practices) determine the content and importance of racial categories”.
    • “Crucial to this formulation is the treatment of race as a central axis of social relations which cannot be subsumed under or reduced to some broader category or conception”.

Source: Omi and Winant, in Racial Formations (1986).

social construction
Social Construction
  • Gender – Basic understanding defines gender to be the biological differences between males and females. This is mostly derived from a difference in human anatomy.
    • However, Gender is also simultaneously a social institution, a social process, and a structure.
social constructions2
Social Constructions
  • Gender as:
    • Social Institution – built in societal norms and expectations. Institutions of marriage, family, employment, education, etc.
    • Social Process – Human beings produce gender, behaving in the ays they learned were appropriate from their gender status” (Johnson, 116). In other words, gender roles are produced/performed in social relationships.
    • Structure – Divides work in the home and in economic production. Legitimizes dominant groups to remain in authoritarian position. Organizes sexuality and emotional life.
      • Stratification System:
        • Man = A
        • Wo-Man = Not A
social construction1
Social Construction
  • Class – The systematic designation and placement of people into social hierarchal categories. (social classes – lower, middle, upper)
      • Social class can be attributed to a person’s belonging into a particular social group.
      • SES – socio-economic-status, or the value (in dollars) placed on individuals and families
social constructions3
Social Constructions
  • Sexuality – how a person chooses to identify, perform, interact with people they are attracted and interested in.
    • Sexuality as:
      • Identity
      • Ideology
      • Institutions
social constructions4
Social Constructions
  • Sexuality:
    • Heterosexuality – “proper” relationships for humanity; typically defined as a man and a woman
    • Homosexuality – historically defined as deviant acts between same-sex individuals; typically between a man and a man, woman and woman
    • Heteronormative – the ideology, structures, and social norms that maintains heterosexuality to the be the ‘norm’ for sexual orientation; ‘Traditional’ gender roles between men and women intact.
    • Homonormativity – A political agenda/ideology that adopts heteronormative assumptions, practices, and institutions. This agenda/ideology promises gay non-hetero-constituencies “equality” via the lens of heteronormativity.