Well, we are now five weeks into the fall term, and having face-to-face classes for the first time in 22 months. It is both wonderful, and a bit stressful. Thus far, things are going well, and we are now planning to double the amount of face-to-face classes for winter term. All the while realizing that at any moment these classes may need to be switched to remote delivery. We will see.
I’ve also been working on a new partnership with a regional corporation for employee training, which I am excited about. The training program would increase access to education and employment for many in the local workforce. A wonderful opportunity.
Writing and Reflecting
As you all know, my focus, passion, and creative energies are still focused on poetry, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I am in love with the creative process that has developed within me over the last year, and actually have amassed quite a lot of poetry, which may serve as the basis of a book.
I am planning to reflect upon the book, which does already have a title, and go through all of my poems over the winter holidays; the idea being that a book may take form sometime in the spring.
Of all the poems that have been published over the past month or so, unknown, and already unbound, and dusty, and delicious, are the two I’ve chosen to write about today.
The poem unknown, already, unbound, was a concept that occurred to me while reflecting on my dreams and how worlds (and our associated realities) are socially constructed through our perceptions. Meaning, that, though we’ve always been unbound and limitless, conditioning and socialization creates perspectives of limitation and boundness, if you will.
However, when we recognize that we are just like the tree, the sapling, and the seed, unbound, and already always walking into the unknown, so much of life becomes available. Increasing our awareness of these truths, creates a world, reality, and visceral experience of aliveness. Is beautiful.
The poemdusty, and delicious, was inspired by the WDYS#103 photo prompt from Keep it Alive, by Sadje. I think it is pretty obvious from the poem that the inspiration was, in fact, a reflection of my time as a child living in Los Angeles. My parents would always get donuts on Sunday mornings, and I would await the delivery of these tasty treats with bated breath. Seriously!
Reminiscing about my childhood and writing the poem was much fun, and, well, tasty, even. Ha!
In my last diary entry, I wrote about posting on more social media sites, Insta and Twitter more specifically; and that is now happening. I am getting the hang of both of these platforms, with, of course, support from some of our dear blogger friends – thank you!
These social media platforms are quite different from each other. With Instagram, I plan to continue to post each time I post on WP; yet with Twitter, it’s a completely different strategy.
There is a 280 character limit on Tweets, which makes writing a complete poem a challenge, which is the fun of it. I am committed to writing one “Twitter Poem” each day through the rest of this calendar year.
Here is an example of one of my recent Twitter Poems.
love lives in the unseen, in the moments in between, in the stars, and galaxies, inside of you and me, and in every living thing, seen…
Super fun. I’ve connected with some of you on both of these social media platforms, yet, if we’ve not yet connected, I invite you to follow me, and then, of course I will follow back. You can reach me on Instagram here, and on Twitter here.
As most of you know, I love the ocean; and, I am taking a trip to the coast in about two weeks. I am super excited. I am staying in a different town this time called Waldport, which is just next door to Yachats, which is one of my favorite places on the Oregon coast.
Of course, I will take lots of pictures while I am there, and will post about the trip when I am back. It’s been a while since I’ve been to the coast, and I am eager. When you grow up close to the coast, or the beach, sea, or whatever the ocean is called where you live, you yearn to be with the water, the waves, the salty air and mist, and the wondrous sea life. I cannot wait.
Woman: Splendor and Sorrow: | Love Poems and Poetic Prose Contest
I am deeply touched and honored to be a finalist in this contest, and to be included in a list of such talented poets. I am humbled. Much love to all of my fellow poets, and to Gabriela for being such a wonderful support to our lovely community.
Now, let’s reset quickly a social construction, shall we? Here we go.
noun /ˌsəʊʃl ˈkɒnstrʌkt/
A concept or perception of something based on the collective views developed and maintained within a society or social group; a social phenomenon or convention originating within and cultivated by society or a particular social group, as opposed to existing inherently or naturally.
Difference, then, is a concept or perception based on the collective views of a society or social group, which does not exist naturally.
Right, so difference does not occur naturally. However, the word difference is used constantly. Really. Think about how often you say that word. Now, think about how often you hear that word utilized. Often, I’m sure.
Yet, according to social constructionism difference is all created in language. All of it. Meaning that difference is only as real as long as we continue to create it as real. Think about that for a minute.
Difference is only as real as long as we continue to create it as real.
Phew, that’s pretty powerful. Why? Well, before we get to that question, there are two new aspects to social constructionism to introduce here. Ready? Good. Here we go.
The first? Yep.
Habitualization describes how “any action that is repeated frequently becomes cast into a pattern, which can then be … performed again in the future in the same manner and with the same economical effort” (Berger and Luckmann 1966). Not only do we construct our own society but we also accept it as it is because others have created it before us. Society is, in fact, “habit.”
For example, your school exists as a school and not just as a building because you and others agree that it is a school. If your school is older than you are, it was created by the agreement of others before you. In a sense, it exists by consensus, both prior and current. This is an example of the process of institutionalization, the act of implanting a convention or norm into society. Bear in mind that the institution, while socially constructed, is still quite real.
Now, why are habitualization and institutionalization important to the discussion of difference? Good question.
Because, essentially, society is in a pattern of continuously creating difference, which has thus become institutionalized and generally accepted as fact.
Even though difference is not a naturally occurring phenomenon or fact. Difference is still real in accord with the consequences that stem from such socially constructed differences.
Yep, that last part, that these social constructions are real in their consequences is another sociological theory. Here you go.
Another way of looking at this concept is through W.I. Thomas’s notable Thomas theorem which states, “If [people] define situations as real, they are real in their consequences” (Thomas and Thomas 1928). That is, people’s behavior can be determined by their subjective construction of reality rather than by objective reality. For example, a teenager who is repeatedly given a label—overachiever, player, bum—might live up to the term even though it initially wasn’t a part of [their] character.
Now, what happens when you take a concept such as difference, defined as separate and not the same, and you habitulize and institutionalize that concept? You get the Thomas Theorem. Meaning?
That now you have a socially constructed concept, difference, and have created a reality that continuously creates difference each and every day. Yep. And, who does this you ask?
Well, everyone does. Remember, based on the definition, a social construct is a concept that is agreed upon in a society.
There is, of course, a spectrum here. Meaning, that some people are aware of how difference operates, and some are not. The former people may have noble intentions, and might not.
And, the latter, well, they are in habitualization without awareness. And, that happens too. It’s not a judgment, or justification, it just occurs that way.
And, what does this mean to individuals? Right, another good question. Here we go.
Like Berger and Luckmann in their description of habitualization, Thomas states that our moral codes and social norms are created by “successive definitions of the situation.” This concept is defined by sociologist Robert K. Merton as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Merton explains that with a self-fulfilling prophecy, even a false idea can become true if it is acted upon.
There we go. And, let’s have one more important quote here to assist in our discussion.
“Most (and probably all) societies exist with systems of social division and social stratification, through which entire categories of people are elevated above others, providing one segment of the population with a disproportionate amount of money, power and prestige” (Macionis and Plummer 2012:232).
Because difference is not wielded within a vacuum. Nope. Difference is wielded though very distinct power structures, which continue to perpetuate that difference. Important.
Yet, what is really different? Not much in fact. Facts? Sure.
People are more similar to each other than they are different. Biologically, we are more homogenous than we are heterogeneous. That is the bottom line. Biologically we are very much alike. Almost identical, in fact.
What does this mean?
That all of the difference we ascribe to individuals and groups of people are created in language and acted out through socialization, creating habits that are continuously repeated, which are then institutionalized as factual, and affected to and by each and every one of us on some level.
Phew, that was a lot. Hm. Right, so where do we go from here?
Awareness and Resistance
Yep, awareness and resistance. And? Well, awareness is first.
When we are aware of how these concepts function in language and are codified in social structures, we can choose to let them go and create a new way of thinking and acting. Truth. And?
It all starts with us disrupting our patterns and habits. Really. All of them. Questioning why we do the things we do, and then looking internally to find out if those habits or patterns make sense any more.
If they do? Okay, keep doing them. If they don’t? Let them go and create something new.
Every time we create a new pattern or habit, we are actively releasing the continuation of what was, or the status quo, and that? Well, that is an act of resistance. Social resistance, if you will. And?
Well, often people mistakenly believe that the only social resistance that leads to social change must happen on a grand scale right away. There was a time I thought this way. Really. And?
It’s just not so. Social change more often happens within small actions that lead to larger actions that then lead to large-scale social change.
Just take a look around the United States right now, and you will see a legacy of active social resistance in the streets right now. Yep.
And, that started with various individuals actively disrupting and then releasing an old pattern or habit, and creating a new one. Just like that. Beautiful to see, and even more beautiful to be a part of.
Now, I have more to say, however, this is a series, therefore we will get to continue our discussion of social constructionism in the near future. Until then?
Question the concepts you hold and the habits you have and see if they still work for you. And, if not, release them, and create something new. That’s pretty much it, and that is powerful. You are powerful.
I’ll have more to say about the book at a later date. For now, insights abound inside of the discussion created by the narrator, and Ramana. It is beautiful.
Well, in no way could I have foretold earlier this year, that I would have 200+ of you with me on this wonderful writing journey. And, you know, it’s more than that.
More than writing that is. Much more. How? Yep. Here we go.
The experience I’ve had this year has been unlike any I’ve had before. Why? Well, yes, part of it is the writing. Being back at my computer writing from both my head and heart is, for sure, a wonderful experience.
And, yet, you know what I’ve enjoyed most? Connecting and interacting with each of you. Really. I’ve had such a wonderful time reading all of your work. Such an inspiration. All of you.
From the exposes on spirituality, leadership and self-development, to the wonderful poems, fictions, artwork, pictures, challenges, recipes, and book reviews. All of it. Every single ounce of it. I love it all.
Know this. Ready? Good.
You are very much appreciated. Each of you. For being with me on this journey. From my heart to each of yours, thank you; and, thank you for allowing me to read about you and your life. A wonder.
I look forward to continuing this journey with each of you. As a matter of fact, it’s just about time to go check out what all of you have been up to. Fun.
Right, well that’s about it for this entry. Well, just a minute, one more thing, okay. Ready? Here we go.
Remember, when things get tough, and goodness knows we’ve had a lot of that this year, keep breathing, keep doing, and keep moving yourself forward.
You are an inspiration. You are beautiful. You are loved.
7 Reasons Why Understanding Time as A Social Construction is Important to Your Life
How often do you run from here to there, and back, checking the clock on the wall, in the kitchen, on your wrist, or on your phone? Yep, normal, we all do it, or, rather, have done it.
Time is such an important part of our life. We construct our whole lives, in fact, around it. Yep. Time. When we get up, when we eat, when we work, how we work, when we sleep. All of it.
Yet, time also provides people with tons of stress and anxiety. Really. How often have you said, or heard, or both, there’s just not enough time in the day? Yep. We’ve all said it, say it, and have heard many, or, rather, most people say it.
Phew. It’s tiring. Really.
I remember a time in my life where I was more concerned about what time it was, then about what I was doing with my time. Maybe you can relate?
Either way, time is not what we think it is.
Time is actually socially constructed. Meaning, it doesn’t even really exist, except for that we create it, agree upon it, and as has been aforementioned, organize our lives around it.
A social construction, you ask? Sure. Here you go.
Pronunciation /ˌsəʊʃl ˈkɒnstrʌkt/
A concept or perception of something based on the collective views developed and maintained within a society or social group; a social phenomenon or convention originating within and cultivated by society or a particular social group, as opposed to existing inherently or naturally.
A social construction is something that is constructed and agreed upon by a group of people, of which time, as in the continued progress of existence and events as in the past, present, and future, is one. Phew.
You may now ask, well, there is a past, present, and future, therefore time exists. Yet, I would invite you to really think about that. Does the past really exist, or the future for that matter?
Think about what you are doing right now. Does the past exist in the present moment? Does the future? Nope. They don’t.
The only thing that ever really exists is the present moment. Right now; and, then right now, and now. That’s it.
Therefore time is in many ways irrelevant, an illusion actually. Yet, we continue to create our whole lives around it. Pretty powerful.
You may now be saying. Okay. Fine. Yet, why is understanding time as a social construction important? Very well.
Let’s take a look at
7 Reasons Why Understanding Time as A Social Construction is Important to Your Life
1. Increased Flexibility
When we hold time as a social construct, we are more flexible because we understand that there is an infinite amount of time to do all that we’d like to do. Really.
We become more flexible as we continue to consider time as something that we can choose to release ourselves from. We know at a different level that, yes, we need to move our work and lives forward, however, we also know that there is plenty of time to do so.
2. Less Stress
As we become more flexible, holding the awareness that time is socially constructed, which takes practice, we then realize that we can release the stress that we create about time-bound situations and events. Yep.
We can release that stress, and replace it with a renewed interest in being present. Present to everything in our lives, in each and every moment. Precious.
3. Reduced Anxiety
Holding time within ourselves differently, which creates less stress, also reduces our overall anxiety levels. There are so many people on this planet that have high levels of anxiety.
Yes, about lots of things, yet, considering time as one of the most important aspects of our lives causes a ton of that stress and, yep, related anxiety.
Yet, releasing that time-bound stress, releases the anxiety. Very helpful.
4. Greater Understanding
We also learn more about ourselves, and then have a greater understanding of, yes, ourselves, and about all people. We can connect with people on another level entirely. Why?
Because, we have connected to ourselves on an entirely different level. It works that way. We become more aware of our time-bound habits, and then can see them more clearly in ourselves and in others. Helpful.
5. More Grace
As we are more aware of our own behaviors related to time, and practice releasing the stress and anxiety that develops as a product of time-bound thinking, we can give ourselves more grace. And?
We can also extend that grace to others. If there is one thing on this planet we can all us more of, it’s grace. Given to ourselves and to each other. Important.
6. Deeper Compassion
Along with granting ourselves more grace, we also develop a deeper level of compassion for the human condition. Most all of us are socialized to place importance on time.
With that knowledge, we can release ourselves from any blame or shame for the stress we’ve caused ourselves and others at the expense of time-bound thinking and acting.
And, as we deepen the compassion we have for ourselves, we also deepen the compassion we can extend toward others. Lovely.
7. More Peace
With our practice of holding time differently in our awareness, we also have more peace. More peace about all aspects of our lives that we once associated with time-bound situations and events, and the associated outcomes, or results.
And, when we have more peace, we can also extend that peace out to everyone. Phew. That is important.
Alright, there are 7 Reasons Why Considering Time as a Social Construction is Important to Your Life. Fun.
Remember, time is only important, when we create that importance. I’m not saying that we don’t take our commitments and agreements that are time-bound seriously.
Those time-bound commitments and agreements are very important. My days are full of them; and, I mean full. All day, every day.
Yet, we don’t have to associate time-bound commitments and agreements with a stressful conception of time. It’s a paradox, like most things in life.
You can both hold time as a socially constructed illusion and as an important aspect of your life in regard to meeting our commitments and agreements.
It is really in between the two, considering ourselves as bound in time and not, where you have the power to live, laugh, and love with less stress and anxiety, and way more flexibility, understanding, grace, compassion, and peace.
In the first installment of the Social Construction Series, we discussed why understanding social constructionism is important to our daily lives. How we interpret our world, think and feel about it; choices we make, and practices we keep, or let go of. Important.
In the second installment, we discussed the importance of understanding that all knowledge is socially constructed. All of it. And, how the production, distribution, and access, or lack thereof, to knowledge affects our lives. Also important.
In the third installment, we discussed the importance of understanding that our identities, every part of them, are also socially constructed. Giving us power and the freedom to create our identity as we want it to be, not as someone has said it should be.
In this fourth installment, we will discuss the social construction of reality; and, why considering a different way to think about reality as important to our lives, to your life. Important to the human being you are today, and the human being you want to be tomorrow. Ready? Let’s go.
Well, what exactly is reality? How does it function, and why do we understand our world as the reality it is? Hm. Let’s define reality, shall we. Here we go.
Reality is a true, or factual account of a situation inherent with problems that exist in contrast to what you’d like your reality to be. Hm. Not sure about these definitions. How about you? Let’s look at a different way to think about reality.
Here you go.
“Human existence is, ab initio, an ongoing externalization. As man externalizes himself, he constructs the world into which he externalizes himself. In the process of externalization, he projects his own meanings into reality. Symbolic universes, which proclaim that all reality is humanly meaningful and call upon the entire cosmos to signify the validity of human existence, constitute the farthest reaches of this projection.80 b.” ― Peter L. Berger,
Alright, so what do you read here? Okay. Well, let me tell you what I read.
That reality, all reality, is a projection of what it is that we think it is. That’s about it.
Reality is about a created truth, our factual account, of a situation inherent with problems, and possibilities, that is seen to exist.
And, who prey, creates it and sees it? Well, you do, I do.
Our realities, however, are different. Your reality is not the same as mine, which is why having general statements, as in the aforementioned definitions from Oxford, are problematic. They’re not inclusive enough, and leave people wanting, and, in some cases, confused.
Right, well, what then?
Let’s take a look at 5 reasons why understanding the social construction of reality as a fluid representation of a world, nay many worlds (over 7 billion in fact), is important to your life. Ready? Here we go.
A Fluid Representation of Many Worlds
If we begin to consider reality as fluid, always shifting and moving, we release ourselves from the false notion that reality is in some way a static, or solid, representation of that which we see. Make sense?
Reality is influenced by several key factors. Here are a few.
Our current state of mind
Our emotional state
Our present situation
Complex, yet simple. Another fun paradox.
Let’s look at each of these in more detail.
1. Our current state of mind
What we believe, we see. Yep. True. If we believe the world is full of bad people with hidden agendas, guess what we’ll see? Yep. A world full of bad people with hidden agendas.
Conversely, if we believe the world is full of good people with noble intentions, yes, that is what we will see.
Now, the world is not binary.
The world is full of both, that which we will find good and that which we will find bad. The point is that, what we expect to see, is what we will see; and, that then becomes our reality.
2. Our emotional state
Our emotions, like our mind, are powerful. How we feel, especially if we are sensitive to our emotions, like I am, influences how we see the world.
If we feel hopeful, we will see hope. If we feel despair, yep, we will see despair. It works that way. Again, complex, and yet quite simple.
Of course, we know that we have many emotions within us, and they come and go like waves in the ocean. Here, then gone, here again, then gone again.
The point is when we are unaware of our emotional state, we are not aware of how our emotions are influencing our perception of reality.
3. Our past
When we focus on our past, especially when that past is full of things we label as a problem, we can literally bring those problems into our present reality. Really.
If we are focusing more on what happened yesterday, than the present context, we are creating a disruption in the reality right in front of us, and, in effect, replacing that reality with an alternative version from a past time.
However, when we are aware that our minds work this way, we can catch ourselves living in the past, and shift our attention back to the present moment, and let go of the past.
4. Our present situation
If we are not at peace with our present reality, we will continue to see issues and problems. In effect, creating even more issues and problems as possible.
When we fight against the reality we see, we make our current reality into a larger problem, and, at the same time, increase our own pain and suffering.
However, if we recognize this pattern, or habit, we can disrupt the habit and replace it with understanding and grace. We can change our reality into something that is more congruent with what we want to see. Finding more peace and harmony in the process.
5. Our future
When we are scared of the future, or feel like the future will only ever be a reproduction of the past, limited and painful, that is what our future will be. Simple. That which we put our attention on expands, and becomes our reality.
Yet, when we let go of our past, and remain open to our future being all that we want it to be, we can begin to shift our attention and create a reality that is quite different.
We can begin to create the future reality that we want to manifest. One that is full of possibility.
Reality is fluid and dynamic, not stable and static. And, we have the power within us to create the reality we want to live into. We do.
There are over 7 billion worlds (realities) on this planet. One reality for each of us. Yep. The paradox?
Sure, here you go.
Though there are over 7 billion worlds on this one planet, there are certain things we agree on. Yep. Example? Sure, we all mostly agree that a tree is a tree, right? The sun is the sun, the stars are stars.
Yet, know that a tree, the sun, and the stars were not always called such. They weren’t. There was a time when they were called something else, and a time when they were called nothing at all. They just existed. That’s it.
Know that the reality you want to live into is available to you. Has been, is, and will always be available.
Reality is socially constructed by each of us every minute of every day. Next time you find yourself frustrated about your current reality, ask yourself why that’s so.
Here are a couple questions you can ask yourself.
In my current state of mind, am I expecting to see frustration?
Is my emotional state having an impact on how I am seeing my reality?
Am I thinking about my past experiences, and bringing them into my present reality?
Am I not at peace with my present situation?
Am I thinking that the future will only ever be a reproduction of my past?
When you ask yourself these questions, see what you get back. And, shift your attention away from these thoughts and emotions, and to the present reality. And?
Begin to create the future you’ve been waiting for. Make that future your reality now, today. You are the only one that can do so.
Now I’m working on a third; the social construction of reality. Yep. And, why is understanding the social construction of reality important? Hm. Power.
As we discussed in 4 Reasons Why Language Is Power, how we describe our reality in language, whether we are describing something internal or external to ourselves, is powerful. It is in essence the reality that we know.
Writing the piece on the social construction of reality is really fun; and, I hope you will all enjoy it.
Right, so integrity. What’s the deal with integrity? Important, yes? I’ve actually read a couple of posts in the past couple of weeks that have mentioned integrity, and I am excited to add my lens to the mix this week.
I think about integrity a little differently, which simply means I conceptualize, internalize, and practice integrity in a way that pushes on the traditional notions of integrity.
It is important to investigate definitions, to push on them when needed, and to conceptualize them differently when they don’t work as intended.
The definition of reality and truth, as we will discuss in the social construction of reality is a good example of this notion, as is the post I am writing on integrity. Will be fun.
Alright, I also wanted to close the book, for now, on curiosity with one final note. Ready?
Maintaining a growth mindset, which I will also write more about in the next couple of weeks, by remaining curious means that we get to take in all of the wonder that surrounds us.
That’s important right now. Maybe more important than ever before.
Remaining curious means taking time for yourself. Taking time to be quiet, to walk by yourself, for yourself, to reflect, to question, to contemplate, and to discover.
When we take time for ourselves, we get back so much more. It is a paradox. Often people think that being continuously busy is the way to get back more, or to progress more, or to move themselves forward more.
And, being active, actively creating the life you want to manifest for yourself is important, yet, not at the expense of your own internal contemplation, reflection, and discovery time.
Yesterday, I came home from a very busy day, and immediately took a nap. Yep, been doing that more often. Feels good. Refreshing.
Watch what happens though. Ready?
I then got up, had a little something to eat, and started working again. And, guess what? I became frustrated? Why?
Because I had essentially gone from work, to sleep, and back to work. What did I do?
I stopped, turned out the light, and meditated for 30-minutes. And?
Inside of that meditation I had a couple of really nice insights, which then fueled the rest of my evening. Meaning that I switched from work, to writing, and developed this week’s ideas for my blog.
My invitation to you on this wonderful Tuesday evening is to remember to take time for yourself. Unplug, go for a walk, meditate, just sit. Do whatever it is that you do to refresh your inner-self.
It is in this space where curiosity and everything else in life for that matter lives; and, where you will find the answers to the questions you are asking yourself right now.
Who are you, and what do you do? How much do you enjoy a typical exchange like this with another human being? Oh, hello, my name is, insert any name you like here, who are you; or, what do you do? Sound familiar?
We get these types of questions all the time. And, did you know that how you answer this question is, well, rather powerful? Why?
Because when we describe ourselves in language, we are, in effect, solidifying our identity as the person we are today.
Yet, what you may or may not know, or have only general cursory knowledge about, is that your identity, my identity, all identities are socially constructed.
Meaning that they are a product of socialization; they are productions caught in a particular time and place. Bound, if you will, in language to ideas we have about who we believe we are, about who we were told, and or are told we are.
Yet, because identities, like all things, are constructed in language, and are embedded in particular geographic, cultural, and societal contexts, they are not fixed. Again, they are not fixed.
They are, rather, fluid, and understanding this fact is important to everyone’s development, and, yes, to our lives as well. Why? Well, many reasons, however, for now, let’s take a look at
7 Reasons Why Understanding Your Identity as A Social Construction is Important to Your Life
Empowered – when we understand that our identities, like all of life and the world, are socially constructed, we are immediately empowered. Empowered to let go of preconceived notions of who we were told we are, are told we are, or think we are. When we subscribe to a fixed identity, instead of one that is socially constructed, we are limited. And, limitation is stressful. However, when we subscribe to the idea that our identities are socially constructed, we are unlimited, able to create the identity and person we dream to be.
Engaged – when we let go of our previously conceived ideas about who we are, we also let go of the types of people that we are “supposed” to engage with, be friends with, and partner with. Also limited. Yet, when we let go of those limitations, we free ourselves to engage with anyone that sparks our interest. Anyone.
Unlimited – when we get clear on our identity, both the identity we were handed, and the one that we created around that identity, we break the limitations that were handed to us, and the ones that we’ve created for ourselves. The only limitations we have are the ones we continue to believe in and the ones we continue to create for ourselves.
Reality – reality becomes more clear. We can see where social institutions, like the family, government, and educational system, have placed limitations on our lives. And, we can make choices to break free from these pre imposed limitations. How? By creating a new life, a new way to conceive of the human being we are today, and the one that we want to become.
Freed – when we can clearly see the limitations we’ve been living within, bound by stories we have about who we are as a human being, we can make different choices. Make different choices to free ourselves from those stories. When we are free from these stories, we can act in new ways, and become new. Seriously. We become a new iteration of the human being we’ve always been, living free from the constraints we were given, or created.
Energized – when we let go of the ideas we have about who we are, we can create a more energized life. A life that is present to all that we have, and want to create. In this kind of life, you will be more often tired, yet, overall, you will have more energy, and feel more regularly energized.
Loved – when we realize that we are not the human being someone has always told us we must be, we are free to love ourselves for the human being we are right now, and the human being we are going to become. And, guess what? When we begin to love ourselves more deeply, we can love others more deeply. We get deeper connections with those we choose to have in our lives. Pretty special.
Phew, that went quick. Obviously, there are many more to add to this list, yet those are some of the most powerful reasons why understanding that your identity is socially constructed is important to your life.
You may be asking, okay, now what?
Well, you can, right now, begin to get clear on the fact that everything you know to be true about the world has been handed to you.
Handed to you by the various social institutions that make up any society or culture, such as parents, educators, friends, churches, healthcare, and the government, to name a few.
When we understand that all knowledge, thus all identities, are socially constructed, we have the power to let go, and create, learn, and recreate.
Let go of ideas and concepts that don’t help move us forward as human beings, and create, learn, and recreate new ideas and concepts that do move us forward as human beings. Fun.
Hard work? Yep, for sure.
Letting go of ideas and concepts we’ve held onto for years is extremely difficult. Yet, know that the reason it is so hard is that we, as humans, like habit, like patterns. We are comfortable with the known.
And, what we know, is how we think, and then act. Yet, when we act from a space of outdated ideas and concepts that no longer serve us, it is time to let go. And, guess what?
Though it is difficult, it does get easier. And, after time, you will wonder why you hadn’t made the choice to let go of those stories, ideas, and concepts much earlier.
One of the most important social constructions to understand is how knowledge is socially constructed. Numerous books and articles have been written on this topic, from both a theoretical and practical perspective.
Here, we will explore the social construction of knowledge likewise. Both theoretically and practically. Ready? Let’s go.
Let’s first define knowledge.
noun ˈnɒlɪdʒ/ /ˈnɑːlɪdʒ/
[uncountable, singular] the information, understanding, and skills that you gain through education or
experience practical/medical/scientific knowledge
knowledge of/about something He [she] has a wide knowledge of painting and music.
There is a lack of knowledge about the tax system.
There we go.
Now before we go onto our discussion, let’s take a look at what two prominent philosophers had to say about knowledge, Jurgen Habermas, and Michel Foucault.
“Habermas argues that domination is an obstacle in the pursuit of true knowledge” (Anttonen, Saila. 1999).
And, what prey tell, do both of these philosophers consider an obstacle to knowledge for some, and a boon for others? Power.
Let’s now consider the social construction of knowledge.
How is Knowledge Constructed?
Knowledge is continually produced, internalized, and practiced, or acted upon. Though not always in this order. Sometimes intellectual knowledge precedes practical knowledge, and sometimes practical knowledge precedes intellectual knowledge. Depends.
Think about a time when you learned something through doing. For instance, learning how to drive a car. You can possess the intellectual knowledge about how to drive a car, yet until you actually drive a car, you don’t possess the knowledge necessary to drive a car.
You need both. And, in fact, some would argue, as would I, that practical knowledge outweighs intellectual knowledge. For it is in the doing, or practice, that we learn the most.
We accumulate the real knowledge about something when we do it.
Conversely, however, you can ask me to create a presentation on the social construction of knowledge, yet unless I possess the intellectual knowledge about the social construction of knowledge, I will be unable to create that presentation, try as I might.
Therefore, knowledge is constructed two ways. Through our intellect and through practice. Both.
Who Constructs Knowledge?
Everyone constructs knowledge. From a young child to an older adult, knowledge is continuously produced, internalized, and practiced. Knowledge is all around us. Everywhere.
Think about an interaction you’ve had recently where you learned something new, or taught someone something new. That is knowledge production.
Knowledge is produced, internalized, and practiced continuously, all day, every day.
Yet, there is some knowledge that is considered more illusive, more special, or maybe the more appropriate term is specialized. You typically go to University, College, or Trade School to learn about these types of specialized knowledge.
Who Constructs Specialized Knowledge
Simple answer, experts. Yet, what does that really mean? Ah, good question. Someone is considered an expert when they have attained a reasonable amount of intellectual and or practical knowledge about a particular subject or topic. Simple. Why does this matter?
Because the humans that have constructed this knowledge, are just that, human. Meaning that they are like you, like me, and like everyone else. Full of strengths and weaknesses. Both
People often get caught up in the term, expert, thinking that because someone has a degree or certification in one specialized area or another, that they should know what is best for us, or know the best path to take in a certain area of our lives.
Yet, because experts are also human means that they are not infallible. Important. Additionally, because we know that the world and all knowledge within it is socially constructed, we also know that there are many, many ways to understand a subject or topic. Many ways. Not one.
Further, not all knowledge about a particular subject or topic has yet been discovered. Meaning that there is always something more to learn. Always.
Here is what Socrates said about knowledge.
“At the trial, Socrates says, “The only true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing.” Socrates put emphasis on knowledge all his life because he believed that “the ability to distinguish between right and wrong lies in people’s reason not in society.”
Ah, wonderful. According to Socrates, then, it is up to the individual, each one of us, to distinguish between right and wrong. And that includes distinguishing between the right and wrong of what someone is telling us is true about our bodies, families, community, and the greater world.
Of course, that does not mean that we don’t need assistance from others, and access to the knowledge we need to make informed decisions and choices. Quite the contrary. More assistance and access is needed.
How is Knowledge Disseminated?
Knowledge is disseminated in many different ways. We’ve covered some of them already, such as through Universities, Colleges,and Trade Schools. Yet, knowledge is also produced, internalized, and practiced in many other social contexts, which are typically referred to as social institutions.
Before we go further, let’s define the term social institution.
“Typically, contemporary sociologists use the term to refer to complex social forms that reproduce themselves such as governments, the family, human languages, universities, hospitals, business corporations, and legal systems. A typical definition is that proffered by Jonathan Turner (1997: 6): “a complex of positions, roles, norms and values lodged in particular types of social structures and organising relatively stable patterns of human activity with respect to fundamental problems in producing life-sustaining resources, in reproducing individuals, and in sustaining viable societal structures within a given environment.”
Ah, helpful. Thus far, we’ve covered the social construction of knowledge within University, College, and Trade Schools, yet as you can read above, there are many social institutions that socially construct knowledge.
The issue? Same as with the socially constructed knowledge that Universities, College’s, and Trade Schools produce. When we internalize a socially constructed view of the world, and our place in it, we are receiving knowledge that has been produced within a very particular framework.
And, those frameworks include within them people that have biases, just like you and I. Yep. We can deny we have biases, yet we all have them. They are part of socialization.
All socialization, which just means the how, what, why, when, and where of all that you learned as a child, youth, and young adult has within it bias. It has to. It’s one way of viewing the world. Yet, it’s not the only way.
Now, choose any social institution you like, and we can discuss the problems inherent with the production, internalization, and then the eventual reproduction of that knowledge through practice, or action. What problems, you ask? Good question.
One of the largest problems, or issues, we have just discussed. Because we know that knowledge is socially constructed, and we know that all social institutions have within them a particular worldview (or bias) this knowledge then, which is often told as truth, is not truth.
This knowledge is, rather, a subjective interpretation of life and the world through one lens, or viewpoint.
However, when we internalize this socially constructed knowledge as truth, we limit ourselves. We limit that which we can really know about the world and life. If we are conscious of this fact, and continue to choose a limited framework, very well.
However, most people are unaware, so do not actively choose. They subscribe to a particular set of knowledge constructs because they were socialized to do so. Many people live their entire lives this way.
Hm. What to do? Before we get to that question, let’s take a look at obstacles to the acquisition of knowledge. Important.
What are the obstacles to the acquisition of knowledge?
As we’ve discussed, Habermas and Foucault would both argue that power is an obstacle to the acquisition of knowledge. Meaning that with more power comes more knowledge. Or, maybe, it’s that with more knowledge comes more power?
Actually power and knowledge have a reciprocal relationship. Meaning that with more knowledge, you do have more power. Likewise, with more power, you have more access to knowledge. Truth.
Well, those with power construct more knowledge, especially of the specialized kind. And, as we’ve discussed, accessing such knowledge is inaccessible for many people.
Therefore understanding how knowledge is socially constructed is important for everyone. Why?
5 Reasons Why Understanding The Social Construction of Knowledge is Important
1. Know matter how much you know intellectually, you must practice it
Practicing our intellectual knowledge is necessary to develop ourselves. When we learn something, and internalize it, the cycle of knowledge production is not complete.
We must practice that knowledge to really know it.
Once practiced, we know it through our entire selves, which is a very different experience than simply having intellectual knowledge about a subject or topic.
2. You can do something with that which you know, or are knowledgeable about
Knowing that knowledge is socially constructed, and that you are an active participant in constructing knowledge creates an opportunity for you to practice distributing your particular knowledge to others.
You are the only one that can educate someone on that which you know, just as you know it.
And, when you give out that which you are knowledgeable about, you will get back that which someone else is knowledgeable about. Meaning, that you will now have acquired more knowledge by giving someone your knowledge. Reciprocal learning.
3. Specialized knowledge is an interpretation, so question it
When we know that all knowledge is socially constructed, we know that questioning all that we learn is necessary and needed. We must question what experts tell us is true about our bodies, families, community, and the greater world.
When we begin to question other people’s truths, we create a space to develop ourselves more. Why?
Because we have created a space to learn more from the expert. Simple. When we don’t take expert knowledge at face value, we create a space to learn more about the subject or topic. Keep questioning.
4. Because bias is inherent in all socially constructed knowledge, be wary of limitation
When we accept knowledge as true, which is given to us by a social institution we limit ourselves. We limit what is knowable.
However, as was aforementioned, when we question that knowledge, we create the opportunity to learn more, and develop more. We don’t accept one worldview or interpretation of the world, which is limiting.
We know knowledge is socially constructed, so we question. We question the knowledge. We become unlimited.
5. Search for knowledge everywhere, both intellectually, and in practice
When we know that knowledge precedes and follows power, we can intentionally create opportunities to learn more. Acquiring more knowledge, both intellectually and practically, moves us forward as human beings.
When we internalize and practice what we learn, we also create an opportunity to produce something out of this knowledge. Of which this article is an example.
And, when we practice that which we know, we have more power as a human being.
In Closing: Question Everything
My final thoughts on the social construction of knowledge is to question everything. Really.
Question the knowledge you now have. Question the knowledge people communicate to you. Question all of it. Powerful.
We choose to accept the knowledge that we have, as well as the knowledge that is communicated to us as true. However, when we know that the world is socially constructed, and that all knowledge is likewise socially constructed, we create an opportunity to question these truths.
Both the ones we’ve considered as truth for most of our lives, and other people’s truths.
We also create a developmental opportunity for ourselves, and as we have discussed, for everyone that we know. We move ourselves from a limited framework to an unlimited one.
Remember, on any subject or topic, there is more to learn. Always. Because we know this to be true, there is always an opportunity to share your knowledge with someone, and for them to share their knowledge with you.
That which you know is powerful. That which you can learn about is powerful.
Knowledge that is produced, internalized, and practiced is socially constructed by you, by me, by experts, by every human being. Thus, question it, question all of it.
I feel like each week I write the words, phew, what a busy week. Well, this week was no different than the previous. Phew, busy, busy, busy.
Open registration began this past week, and our enrollments are up from the past two terms, which is exciting. As I’ve written about in previous posts, COVID-19 has made creating and delivering experiential classes, workshops, and training, precarious.
Yet, we’ve persisted, and not resisted; and have over 150 remote classes on offer this fall term. Pretty cool.
This past week, I’ve been reflecting upon the need for adequate sleep. Yes, sleep. Really. I’ve spent the past 20 years being a, well, not very good sleeper. Yet, I’m getting better.
And, adequate sleep is needed more now than ever. More than ever.
How do you sleep?
One insight into sleeping adequately I’ve had the past two weeks is this: when you’re sleepy, sleep. Often, I think we resist. I did, for many years. Not helpful. Sleep when you are tired.
Last Saturday, I opened up my medium account, and an article of mine had been curated. 100 submissions, and a first curation. Pretty cool.