Debate Guide: Social constructionism

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Social constructionism refers to a theory or method of sociological analysis that challenges the foundations of mainly metaphysical, imagined concepts and investigates/retraces the social processes by which they were established as "objective" truths. Its lay alternative can be characterised as the reasoned assertion that certain phenomena exist only "in the eye of the beholder", or more accurately "in the eye of the beholder, due to social processes".

The use of deconstructive techniques of "textual" or "literary" criticism, whether overtly or by proxy of folk principles such as "in the eye of the beholder" has been central to the struggles and eventual emancipation of many groups, as it should be to sexual minorities including adults and minors who seek mutual affection (see the work of Gayle Rubin).

Example

Those, who in response to the "sexual traumatisation" of young people, call for tougher legislation or stricter enforcement of moral codes are putting a flame thrower to an inferno. It is illogical to fight the harmful effects of dogmatic and complicating moral teachings by reinforcing those very values. It is most likely that such people are either financially dependent upon or blind to the harm they are causing, much like the parent who responds to their underachieving and volatile child by simply beating them even more. By supporting legislation against 'risky' behaviour, professionals, the public and their representatives reinforce moral preconceptions against acts that may not have resulted in harm, had they not been accompanied with extraneous factors. A better understanding of social causation and criminalisation may inform the passing of legislation against demonstrable harm and not "immoral" acts that are only associated with such problems.