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Lecture 5

SOCI 1501W Lecture 5: Soci1501w notes 5

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SOCI 1501W
Dennis Breslin

Soci1501w Notes 5 Contrasting the logics of essentialism and constructionism Logic of essentialism Black or white, rich or poor, male or femalethese are just the way things are Background on essentialist perspective Nature of reality really exists out there and is independent of our perception of it reality is that which is accessible to us through our senses our world is an empirical reality Nature of differences differences, like race, class, and gender represent real things, naturally occurring, scientifically measurable, and relatively significant for people and society. Implications Conservative implications: Inequality inevitablereal limits to social change or efforts to improve life Fatalistic essentialism inequality, hierarchy and domination, exploitation and natural, inevitable, necessary and unchangeable consequently efforts to change things will turn out bad Liberal implications: Remove artificial barriers and eliminate unjust discriminationuse science to distinguish real group deficiencies from false ones rooted in prejudice. Realistic essentialism pity the disadvantage and offer remedial resourcesraise defectives to their full (limited) potential Logic of constructionism If people havent named it, they probably cant see it. Background on the constructionist perspective Nature of reality reality cannot be separated from the way people subjectively make sense of it; the human world is mostly a social one, a symbolic universe where symbols mediate our relationship with the physical and social worlds Nature of human differences differences like race, class, and gender are socially constructed names and categories sort people and groups created by powerful groups to set a part, oppress, exploit, andor control others Implications Categorizing, dichotomizing, aggregatingall of these are genericbut its social inequality that converts them into tools to create others and to stigmatize people. Humans are essentially equal in basic worth and valuethe idea of human rights thus inequality and difference can be considerably changed by people. The ways society defines differences reveals more about those doing the defining.
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