What Is Social Construction? Definition, Concept, & Examples

Social construction is also known as social construction or constructionism. It is a crucial theory in sociology, social ontology, and communication. It means that it is not seen as it is, but the thing is viewed based on peoples’ interaction and consensus.

People or society created something which was accepted as a fact. The best example here is money, knowledge, race, etc. Those social constructionists feel that things seen, believed, and perceived might not be real because they come from people’s beliefs. 

There would be changes in these concepts when people change, social change, and there are changes in belief systems. Many factors influence social constructs, including political events, economic conditions, and social environment.

What Is Social Constructionism, And How Is It Different From Constructivism?

Even though the words social constructionism and constructivism seem similar and are considered to be used alternatively for one another, they both have different meanings. Constructivism is a small term with a limited scope and studies how people learn in a group setting.

The word constructionism means that a social framework is agreed upon and thought of as something real. 

But those meanings and the framework are socially created. Social constructionists believe that what people feel might not be real, and it would have been only for the sake of a framework. 

Examples Of Social Construction

Most of the beliefs and the intact things we see might be due to social constructs. So, here are some examples to make this point clear:

1. The concept of money

Money is made out of paper, metal or plastic. It doesn’t hold any value on its own. But since national governments back the currencies, they have a value. You have to use the money to buy or sell something. 

Money has taken its meaning because the social and economic framework has been created in that manner. Thus, money is a crucial example of a social construct.

2. The concept of time

The concept of time is also a social construct. With the patterns that people have followed till now, people get up at dawn and sleep when it’s dark and dusky. 

Once these patterns were accepted, the concept of the clock and calendar was based on these concepts.

3. The concept of food

What one must eat and what not to eat is also a social construct. When you are hungry, you cook and eat some food. 

Why you can’t eat a dog or any other, just like other animals do, is something that we learned from society. In some countries, people don’t mind eating animals. In countries like the USA, people never eat animals that are their companions or pets.

What Do Social Constructionists Agree On?

Now that you know what social construction means and the meaning of social constructionism, it would be vital to understand what the constructionists agree on.

They consider three vital concepts and believe in the same.

They believe that knowledge is constructed based on a social framework.

Social constructionists believe there is knowledge when there is human interaction because of human relationships.

Many things as accepted as history and culture. People do not question things, and that would be believed in the form as it is.

They believe that language is also a socially constructed concept.

Language also came up because of the need for human interaction. Some things would mean some things, and ignore a few other things in that run.

So, as per the social constructionists, language is not neutral and is part of social construction only.

They also believe that knowledge is based on political beliefs.

Based on political grounds, policies are created. Then there are political beliefs which would make the base of the society.

People will start thinking of them as facts. Although social realities may be different, these would become a reality, and everyone would accept the same.

On What Grounds Is Social Construction Criticized?

Social construction is criticized on the basis that there are some concepts which are just as they are and not based on reality. They might not be based on observations. They might be accepted as something that has prevailed to date.

 Those who criticize the concept do not believe in the concept. Critics also say that no clear road map or path is followed to determine what is real and what is not.

Thus, some schools of thought do not believe social construction is crucial. They find the concept unreal.

The Need For Social Construction In The Social Setup

People may have subjective thoughts and concepts. There is a need for social construction to bring everyone under one purview and create a social framework. It makes the people live in peace. When some ideas are considered real, there will be better acceptance levels. Finally, there will be a better system within the social structure.

  • Living becomes easy when certain ideas and concepts are created within the social structure.

  • Something that seems real to one may not be for the other. To avoid these types of conflicts now and then, social construction helps establish certain norms that everyone in society is ready to accept.

  • When there are social constructs like religion, race, family, and marriage, people at least know how to behave when they live with other individuals or when they are part of a group.

  • There is group unity when a social construct guides that group. 

  • Because of social construct, the social structure runs smoothly, and there is proper order too.

Almost everything you can see in society is a social construct, including religion, race, caste system, education, marriage, school, cultures, fashion, good manners, countries, etc. 

When Did The Concept Of Social Construction Come Up?

People accepted things as they came, but they never considered that the base was a social construct. The concept of the social construct was discussed in the year 1966.

It was a book by Berger and Luckman, The Social Construction of Reality. Many thinkers, including Karl Marx, inspired this book. In the late 1960s, there were some movements with social construction as the main concept.


Social constructs came into being when people started thinking they were vital to maintaining societal order. There is better acceptance when there is a social construct, and people know how to behave when they are with a group of people.

People living in society want to live smoothly. With social construction, an idea is floated, making people think of society as something crucial for their living. 

You can say that almost everything you do, from your studies to your job, is based on social constructs. The ideas that created a good social framework and provided peace and motivation to people came up as a construct.


What is a social construction?

Social construction is the idea that many of the realities we take for granted are actually created and maintained by social processes and interactions rather than being inherent in the world itself.

What are some examples of socially constructed realities?

Examples of socially constructed realities include money, gender, race, and nationality.

How does social constructionism differ from essentialism?

Essentialism is the belief that certain characteristics or attributes are inherent to a person or thing, while social constructionism argues that these characteristics are created and maintained through social processes.

What is the role of language in social construction?

Language plays a critical role in social construction by shaping our perceptions and understanding of the world around us, and by creating and reinforcing social categories and hierarchies.

How does social constructionism impact our understanding of identity?

Social constructionism challenges the notion of fixed or essential identities and instead argues that identities are fluid and socially constructed.

How can social constructionism be applied in social justice movements?

Social constructionism can be applied in social justice movements by challenging dominant narratives and identities and by promoting a more nuanced and inclusive understanding of social realities.

What are some criticisms of social constructionism?

Critics of social constructionism argue that it can lead to relativism and the erasure of individual experiences and agency.

How can social constructionism be used to promote social change?

Social constructionism can be used to promote social change by highlighting the ways in which social realities are created and maintained and by challenging dominant narratives and power structures.

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