Constructivism

The idea that stood out most prominent and appealing to me was constructivism. Constructivism is proposed to be “an extension of symbolic interaction theory which proposes that reality is what humans cognitively construct it to be.” (Openstax College, 2015, P21) Each of us “perform duties which are defined… in law and in custom.”(Rules of the Sociological Method, P1) The customs each person performs in society is only subjective reality, yet “such reality is still objective, for [we] did not create them; [we] merely inherited them through [our] education.” (Rules of the Sociological Method, P1)

So how did our minds create such an intricate reality that we need to become educated about it? Or the better question, why? In John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government (1689), he suggests we structured the reality of social customs for protection. In a state of nature, one would be able to have or take anything they desired. But so would everyone else. So to prevent this, humans came up with concepts of reality that gave them protection and sacrificed absolute free will. Thus social contracts began, and continue to evolve to a point where we are able to study how we interact with one another, and what mistakes are made along the way.

Constructivism is amazing then, when we see everything that has come about since we decided the concepts of an ideal reality, such as structured time and currency, religion, and behaving acceptably to each other. Cultures on Earth are almost completely defined by these elements of reality, which from a sociological point of view is something to think about; each cluster of the first early humans came up with rules and regulations within their societies, and civilization began, though as the groups branched off and different cultures were made, standard to all were time, relationships, belief, and wealth.

Each society has an agreed upon reality; in the United States we go to School, get a Job, and Contribute. There are Things We Do and Things We Don’t Do. Yet each of us are different, “each individual drinks, sleeps, eats, reasons; and it is to society’s interest that these functions be exercised in an orderly manner.” (Rules of the Sociological Method, P1) The word individual is key because no one, despite how badly some try, is the same, and each of our minds construes our own reality in addition to the agreed upon. This complex idea of constructivism is, in my opinion, the most important because without it, what would there be to study?