Social Constructivism and Modern Feminism: A Sociological Perspective

Social Constructivism

Everything exists become individual give them reality through social agreement: money (no value if we don’t put it) P. BERGER and T. LUCKMANN: started social constructivism in “The Social Construction of Reality”

Reality is socially constructed and therefore individuals are not completely responsible.

Individuals construct society, but society also socially construct individuals. “society: product of a human design”GENDER is socially constructed. “Women socially construct themselves as women”Sometimes, idea of socially constructed gender is challenged:maybe gender socialized into is not representative of their real gender, or they justnot believe in idea of genderGender is socially constructed and therefore gender doesn’t exist apart from the role that society would impose for that gender.individuals interact in socially institutionalized (the act of implanting a convention or norm into society.) ways of organizing collective life. (positivism and non-positivist perspectives).nterested in religion: individuals who interact together within a symbolic universe of shared beliefs, symbols, meaning.. Sacred Canopy facilitates their sense-making and enhances their social integration.

Modern Feminism

Belongs to Critical Theory (bc fens has goal to bring social equality) – it includes all the theories that embrace in their scope of fight against social injustice. More developed than neo-marxism.Judy Butler (lesbian, fighting for LGTB & Dorothy Smith (single mother and academic) Feminist theory:Scholars very different perspectives – what they have in common: all women centered in 3 ways: women are the objects (feminism studies women), subjects (study done by women) and goals of feminist theory1st statement:

try to bring more gender equality and empower women doing it from a feminine perspective (centered approach) study also situation of women in society and understand why women are in these situations always conclusion: women do not lack capabilities in any sector. Absolutely capable as men, same successful outcomes without being “man-explained”.what women lack is the opportunities to be in power, not the competencesbefore 70s, statement wasn’t that obvious.2nd statementWomen inequality is also affected importantly in women social location: situations of:scarce econ resources, social status, religion, position in house, ethnicity, class, sexualityPressure on feminism gender issues: related to binary idea of sociology: gender no longer considered a binarystructure. Considers gender sociallyconstructed(through symbol interactionism), or performed, not a given fact.physical sex is binary, but sex does overlap with gender bc gender is socially constructerfact that most of time sex coincides with gender is a result of a system in which gender is socially constructed in a way that makes that happen, however, this mustn’t be like this.there are difference societies that socially construct genders in different ways.

Intersectionality women inequality doesn’t depends on the same reasons, structures.experience different inequalities: black and white women. There is an intersectionality approach that is also provided through constructivist.

Conclusion: need to be aware of complexities and deconstruct feminism. Therefore new deconstructionist pressures will bring more findings, more truths… Importance of micro sociology. (before criticized but now gained importance – useful way to analyze reality).

Micro – Macro synthesis In the ’80s, American sociology turned towards the work of the classical sociologists (Durkheim, Weber, Marx, Simmel) to rediscover an approach that could connect micro andmacro theories.There are two ways to connect micro and macro:the integration of micro and macro theories, the development of a theory that deals with the link between the two different level of analysis.

In Europe, Norbert Elias and figurative sociology: Elias is preoccupied on how to understandthe small changes in individuals’ figurations that produce important changes in society. 

Agency – Structure Integration In Europe, sociologists from the ’80s  solve the sociological main puzzle: structure or agency? Agency is often considered a micro-level, however, it can be considered at a collective level (the agency of social classes; social movements…). The structure is what would influence the agency of individuals according to some theories.The agency-structure theory tries to integrate the two levels. Giddens’ structuration theory: he is initially influenced by Marx but he also takes from very different theories (symbolic interactionism above all). He is interested in “recurrent social practices”.“Activities are not brought into being by social but these are constantly recreated by them when they express themselves as actors.” Particularly through discursive consciousness andpractical consciousness.

Agency-structure synthesis: Margaret archer has also contributed to the agency-structure literature. She focuses however on the linkages between agency and culture. Her theory is called morphogenesis: complex interchanges leas not only to changes in the structure of the system but also to an end product: a structural elaboration. Interaction and action can produce structural properties that become separated from the action that produced them. Parallel to this, interaction can lead to a cultural elaboration that once generated can condition other actions and interactions.

Bourdieu and its constructivist structuralism: Bourdieu was concerned with the false opposition between objectivism (the fact that there are some structures and they constrain individuals) and subjectivism (the most important element of the reality is what individuals do, the reality is the real life, the agency of the persons). Once the interaction socially constructed reality, that reality created structures that become autonomous from the individuals that created it and is where it departs from individualism. focused on practices: the outcome of the dialectic relationship between structure and actors’ agency. In this sense, he was influenced by Marxism and neo-marxism. Practices are what becomes a part in the individual’s interactions. He was influenced by Marx because practices are also in Marx’s analysis of the markets economy. Practices are independent of the will of agents. Individuals are not actors, they are agents (puts emphasis on the actor, in the structure as an agent, is mediating the effect on the structure, so he is still part of the constructivist influence but he is structuralist). One of Bourdieu’s main concept is one of habitus: a cognitive structure with which people deal with the social world. It is the way agents have learned how to stay in society. Hysteresis: habitus that is inappropriate for the context where one is living: vs city. It is the habitus that is inappropriate with the social request of a specific place. It is not a formalized structure, it can be crystallized in individuals but not formalized, it won’t abandon individuals.

Habermas: Influences by Lévi-Strauss and Marxism. Habermas has been strongly influenced by neo-marxism and critical theory. He is from the Frankfurt School. In his early work, he is clearly influenced by critical theory. Communicative action theory: there is a linguistic structure that established a normative understanding of reality. There is a linguistic structure that established our reality. He thinks that specialization has created fragmentation in the modern world. Modernity is fragmented because of the specialization created by the production system. As the world is fragmented, the weakest part of the society cannot be powerful when confronting the power. The colonization of the life-world: where the system, where there is the formal rationality(the one of the system) takes the lead over the life-world, where there is the substantialrationality (rationality of the world of individuals). Where the formal rationality takes the lead of the life-world, then there is the colonization of the life-world (substantialrationality) The life-world is composed of culture, society, and personality. The system is composed of structures and institutions.