“Social Construction of Reality” Essay

Words: 1445
Pages: 6

“Social Construction of Reality”

Reality is not an objective thing that is imposed upon us, but is created by us. Reality does not exist externally but internally, as each individual or group interprets it, and is always changing. Due to these concepts sociologists often speak about the “social construction of reality” which is essential to understand when attempting to explain human social behavior. Since realty is the basis of people’s actions, W. I. Thomas states, “If people define situations as real, they are real in their consequences”. The “social construction of reality”, human social behavior and W. I. Thomas’s statement are three concepts that fit hand in hand and are important when trying to explain one another.
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This is why it is so important to first understand the concept of the “social construction of reality” before trying to explain why people act the way they do. Because this object with four legs attached to a flat surface is defined as a “table” one uses it to eat on or sit at and not other things such as sleep on. If an individual were to use it as something else they would be looked at as being weird because they are not doing what is socially accepted or viewed as “breaking the rules”. The concept of ethnocentrism is where a group of people tries to change another group of people to make them like them so they can “save” them for their own good. This is done because according to their social construction of reality however the opposing group behaves is “wrong”. This can be seen throughout history for example the crusades, as stated before the “white mans burden” in Africa, and the war in Iraq. During the days of slavery, treating a black individual maliciously was socially accepted because of the way reality was constructed. The changing attitudes toward marriage and divorce are evident when one looks at the trends. Marriage is not viewed the same as it was 100 years ago; it is not necessary to be married forming a family by age 15. This concept of social construction of reality also explains why patterns form and how people can develop similar behavior without having to know each other. On