Social Constructs

In my third year of undergrad a friend suggested that I take an intro to sociology course. I didn’t have a lot of experience with social science courses, and I remember part way through the course thinking that most of what we were learning was common sense. The concepts we were covering seemed very familiar, although the language being used was new to me. Since then I have come to realize that my social position and identities had introduced me to many of the core concepts of sociology and social justice, long before I took that course.

As the daughter of refugees I have always been aware of the way that our upbringing and culture impacts our view of the world. I soon learned that the term social constructs refers to this very concept. The words and ideas that we use to make sense of the world around us influences the way that we understand that world. My parents came from a country where snow did not exist, and their language had one word to mean both ice and snow. On the other hand, there are some Inuit cultures where there are many different words for snow because it is so central to their way of living. Thus, snow is conceptualized and understood differently depending which of these cultures one is from. As a child who grew up in Canada I associated snow with Christmas and tobogganing. This simple example of the ways in which we describe and experience snow can of course be applied to many other parts of our lives and as I continued to gain a better understanding of this I quickly began to realize how important social constructs are.

Nowadays I am interested in the ways we construct categories such as race, gender and sexuality. These constructs which we use to define ourselves and others impact how we interact with our communities and the world. Thus, I believe that a deeper understanding of these concepts is critical and I will explore them as we move forward.

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