Pg.: 13: Social construction: something that we define, reproduce in our lives and give meaning to and
Q: Why do we need to think about science as a social construction?
A: B/c science changes over history and has the ability to influence people’s lives.
In the Victorian era, science influenced women’s lives by reinforcing/reproducing the reasons why they
shouldn’t be physically active and engaged in it, because something might happen to their bodies
physically. It became justification for why women shouldn’t be allowed to participate in sports and
physical activity in the way that boys and men were allowed to do so.
Pg. 14: If we fast forward that to our current point in time, we have a different way of understanding
women and women’s bodies and physical activity. There are still some myths out there about what
women can and cannot do, but for the most part, it’s radically different than what it was for our parents’
grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ generations, etc., that right now it’s not unusual to see women
boxing, wrestling, etc. There’s most acceptability to it and a greater recognition that women’s bodies
can engage in this physical activity. We still mythologize about it in the science we use to still support it;
that’s still there, depends on what kind of circumstances. What we’re trying to do is, in questioning
science, is to develop our understanding. We need to recognize the body and physical activity as social
constructions. When we do so, we’re in a position of understanding power and power relations in the
research and science we do. When we ask questions like “whose science counts?” and “whose
knowledge counts?” we understand that science is framed by power. If someone were to define
something in a certain way, and she gets everyone to believe that her way is the way that makes her a
powerful scientist/researcher. Power frames science!
In asking and questioning science, then positioning science as a social construction, what we’re saying is
that science is defined by people, especially scientists. Science is not just something that’s come down
from the heavens and we now have it. Scientists don’t just come down from the heavens with their
brains filled with knowledge; they are human beings who define certain things in certain ways. In doing
so, it means that they have power. If you can define something in a certain way, it gives you power over
it. Ex. – little kids playing, one kid gives the rules to a game. That kid has all the power. We can extend
that idea to science as well. If scientists can define a certain concept, practice, body part or anything in a
way that it influences how we act, behave and interact, there’s power there. We are questioning the
power relations; we need to think of the power behind all the science we study. Why are we defining
certain things in certain ways? Who does it advantage or disadvantage?
Lecture 3B: Whose Knowledge Counts?
Pg. 1: Ex. 1: Fatness & obesity: this idea that there’s an epidemic of obesity is something that is
reproduced and told to us over and over again, in the media, the news, movies, in all these different
types of media outlets, the internet, also in the courses taken in high school, and even in Kinesiology.
Within the first few weeks of this course already we are familiar with and feel sensitivity towards the
idea of an obesity epidemic. Pg. 2: Voices of dissent: opinions that tell you that there isn’t an epidemic of obesity, that fascination we
have with fatness is not because we have fat people that will dominate the planets. These voices go
against fatness and the idea of an obesity epidemic.
Pg. 3: Q: How often do we hear dissent?
The information about power, social construction and science of social construction is captured by this
quote. When we are thinking about obesity and fatness, we should be looking at and thinking about our
fixation on it, on who gets to define acceptable and unacceptable bodies, and how that get taken up as
“the truth”. Q: W