Thursday, March 29, 2012

Social Construction

Social Constructivism-

In fifth grade my teacher, Mr. Erickson, was instructing us about the food chain. He told us it is necessary for one species to kill another as a means of survival, it is the "natural order" of things. He made his way from the bottom to the top in as much detail as possible. Insects seemed to be at the bottom, while animals such as the tiger were at the top. Then, after making his way to the top he drew a figure of a human being at the upper right hand side of the food chain. He then made a statement which had a profound impact on me. He said, "human beings are not necessarily part of the food chain, but exist outside of it because of our ability to think." Is it possible that we inhabit the Earth, along with everything else, yet exist independently? How could this be?

According to our book, social constructivism is, “the theory that individuals actively construct knowledge and ideas about reality and themselves through social processes and experiences” (Marsiglia & Kulis, 2009, p. 85). Human beings congregate and socially construct language, and then give names to objects in the phenomenal world. Human consciousness divides the world by discrimination through language. We are then deceived by our mental "constructs", and believe there is inherent separation. In fact, we are not separate from the world, we are a part of it. We could not survive, and would not exist, were it not for everything else. Without the sun, rain, farmers, workers, and grocery stores we would not have food to eat that creates our bodies. This is also the case with mental conception. How would I know what to write if language didn't exist prior to me writing?

President Obama could not be president if there were no people to preside over. I could not be a student in Diversity and Inequality without any instructor. Both the teacher and student, or president and citizen, are dependent on one another for their identity; they are interdependent and part of a whole. However, because we are human beings with the ability to conceptualize, we differentiate the teacher from the student, overlooking these are fleeting identities which have no inherent existence. This is not theory, but reality prior to conception. We are given identities because society agrees on their meaning through social constructivism. Would you consider yourself a pedestrian when sitting in a classroom? Eggs could not exist without the hen. Rain could not exist without the clouds. There isn't a place we can gaze where interdependence doesn't exist. We are the sum total of all experience, mind and body.


Marsiglia, F. F., & Kulis, S. (2009). Diversity, oppression, and change. (p. 85). Chicago, IL: Lyceum Books,


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