What is a social construct?


I don’t understand how so many people seem to understand the concept just fine. It sounds oddly complicated to me. The concept to me sounds like collectively concluded delusion or like if society collectively concludes something to be objectively real, that means it’s objectively real. Maybe I’m not understanding correctly?

In: 16

Social construct is something that only exists because people have agreed so. The term is often used to dismiss or undermine arguments by suggesting that certain concepts are merely products of societal agreement and not inherent truths but the term itself doesn’t imply anything negative or delusional.

For example, countries and money are both social constructs. There’s no natural borders between countries, they’re made up lines on a map. There’s also no value in a paper bill meaning you can’t eat it, wear it, or benefit from it in any way unless other people agree with you that it has value and that other people are willing to trade for something that’s actually useful.

Race is a good example, it can effect your life experiences profoundly even though we all agree theres zero scientific basis for it

Breakfast food is a great example. Eat pizza for breakfast and people will think you’re a fat slob. Eat tomatoes, cheese, and bread for breakfast and people will think you are a healthy European.

youve got the right idea. it’s something as a society we all kinda agree on that doesn’t exist in nature or on its own. borders, money, religion, language, morality, law, etc ….

I’ll throw another example of a social construct: Pink is for girls, blue is for boys. If you were around in the 90s, you might remember that one. That has lessened a lot in 2023.

Pink wasn’t always considered a feminine color: https://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/08/pink-wasnt-always-girly/278535/

Fashion as a whole is a social construct. What is considered acceptable in the workplace for example has changed. Jeans and a sweater or a business suit serve the same basic functional purpose, but there was a time when wearing jeans to work was a “faux pas” in certain environments. That was 100% a social construct, the fact that jeans are now acceptable where they weren’t before is also a social construct.

EDIT: Once you go down that rabbit hole, it can really mess with you and feel like nothing is objectively real anymore. Lots of things are social constructs, but are by now so ingrained in a society, that for a member of that society they “just are”.