A comparison between the concepts of essentialism and social constructionism

Definition[ edit ] A social construct or construction concerns the meaning, notion, or connotation placed on an object or event by a society, and adopted by the inhabitants of that society with respect to how they view or deal with the object or event.

A comparison between the concepts of essentialism and social constructionism

The main feminist motivation for making this distinction was to counter biological determinism or the view that biology is destiny. A typical example of a biological determinist view is that of Geddes and Thompson who, inargued that social, psychological and behavioural traits were caused by metabolic state.

It would be inappropriate to grant women political rights, as they are simply not suited to have those rights; it would also be futile since women due to their biology would simply not be interested in exercising their political rights.

To counter this kind of biological determinism, feminists have argued that behavioural and psychological differences have social, rather than biological, causes.

A comparison between the concepts of essentialism and social constructionism

Commonly observed behavioural traits associated with women and men, then, are not caused by anatomy or chromosomes. Rather, they are culturally learned or acquired. Although biological determinism of the kind endorsed by Geddes and Thompson is nowadays uncommon, the idea that behavioural and psychological differences between women and men have biological causes has not disappeared.

In the s, sex differences were used to argue that women should not become airline pilots since they will be hormonally unstable once a month and, therefore, unable to perform their duties as well as men Rogers More recently, differences in male and female brains have been said to explain behavioural differences; in particular, the anatomy of corpus callosum, a bundle of nerves that connects the right and left cerebral hemispheres, is thought to be responsible for various psychological and behavioural differences.

Anne Fausto-Sterling has questioned the idea that differences in corpus callosums cause behavioural and psychological differences. First, the corpus callosum is a highly variable piece of anatomy; as a result, generalisations about its size, shape and thickness that hold for women and men in general should be viewed with caution.

Second, differences in adult human corpus callosums are not found in infants; this may suggest that physical brain differences actually develop as responses to differential treatment. Third, given that visual-spatial skills like map reading can be improved by practice, even if women and men's corpus callosums differ, this does not make the resulting behavioural differences immutable.

Fausto-Sterling b, chapter 5. Psychologists writing on transsexuality were the first to employ gender terminology in this sense. Although by and large a person's sex and gender complemented each other, separating out these terms seemed to make theoretical sense allowing Stoller to explain the phenomenon of transsexuality: Along with psychologists like Stoller, feminists found it useful to distinguish sex and gender.

This enabled them to argue that many differences between women and men were socially produced and, therefore, changeable. Rubin's thought was that although biological differences are fixed, gender differences are the oppressive results of social interventions that dictate how women and men should behave.

However, since gender is social, it is thought to be mutable and alterable by political and social reform that would ultimately bring an end to women's subordination.

In some earlier interpretations, like Rubin's, sex and gender were thought to complement one another. That is, according to this interpretation, all humans are either male or female; their sex is fixed. But cultures interpret sexed bodies differently and project different norms on those bodies thereby creating feminine and masculine persons.

Distinguishing sex and gender, however, also enables the two to come apart: So, this group of feminist arguments against biological determinism suggested that gender differences result from cultural practices and social expectations.

Thesis: Difference between Essentialism and Social Construction

Nowadays it is more common to denote this by saying that gender is socially constructed."SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION THEORY: PROBLEMS" I domains, presenting the possibility of a truly social inquiry as well as suggesting that human actions have been and continue to be subject to historical forces and, thus, to change.

Gender and sexuality have been the very last domains to have their natural, biologized status called into question. Your Forums» Allgemein» a comparison between the concepts of essentialism and social constructionism Select A Forum» Allgemein» Bewerbungen» Fragen» New´s Druck-Version.

What is the difference between social constructionism and essentialism? Social constructivism places blame on women for their inferior treatment on society and societal norms rather than on any one specific biological characteristic of the female body.

Social constructionism is a theory of knowledge in sociology and communication theory that examines the development of jointly constructed understandings of the world that form the basis for shared assumptions about reality.

Feminist Perspectives on Sex and Gender (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

The theory centers on the notion that meanings are developed in coordination with others rather than separately within each individual.

Delmater and Hyde in their article, Essentialism vs Social Constructionism in the Study of Human Sexuality write of two more weaknesses. In social constructionism there is a tendency to assign a passive role to the individual.

Essentialism vs. Constructivism: Introduction. defends the view that gender is a social construction that is related to but differs from that our concept of sex difference is heterosexis t.

Thesis: Difference between Essentialism and Social Construction