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Social Constructionist Theory

The social constructionist theory is a very broad blanket covering various subject from economics to one's eating habits. It seems to me that the term has been diluted to the point of being an amorphous social puzzle piece; used whenever the solution to a social problem is necessitated.

At its basic level all who ascribe to the social constructionist theories believe that sexuality is defined in a backdrop of temporal and cultural factors. In effect, physically similar sexual acts, such as sodomy, have different meanings and significance throughout various cultures and historical periods.[9, p. 43 ] A second widely shared belief of social constructionists is that humans have nothing which is innate, or immutable. Humans are a very plastic species - in other words, the individual is constructed from the society and times in which he lives; sexual behaviour is a product of social conditioning rather than biological factors.

As it pertains to sexuality, the radical social constructionist would look at the varying degrees of sexuality, from strict hetero sexuality to strict homosexuality, and would see a range of possibilities in between that seem to meld together - as the grey scale between white and black on opposite ends. According to radical social constructionists, homosexuality, or for that matter any deviance from the ``normal'' missionary position of heterosexual sex, as an identity emerged in the nineteenth century as a result of the dialectic of industrial capitalism.[5]

The ideology of industrial capitalism stems from a system of economic production and distribution of goods and services characterised by the private ownership of the means of production, the pursuit of profit, and the commodification of every aspect of life.[4] As a result, the homosexual subculture, began with the labelling of deviants who would not conform to the norms of propagating the ideology of industrial capitalism. For homosexual couples do not reproduce; hence they cannot perpetuate, nor replace themselves in the generational pool of possible labourers to be exploited by the bourgeoisie.

The attention then turns towards the bourgeoisie and their methods of social control to abate the homosexual subculture which they have just created. To see the ``other'' in relation to the ``self'' social constructionists have turned their attention towards the legislators and persons in power. By detailing the differences between the social control of possible homosexual acts and the actual target of the law, we can pull forth the intended meaning of the law.[10]

For example, Jeffrey Weeks states that, while laws were passed and enforced that outlawed ``buggery'' the targets of that law not only applied to homosexual sex, but also ``between man and woman, man and beast.'' As a result ``there was therefore a crucial distinction between traditional concepts of buggery and modern concepts of homosexuality.''[10, p. 123]

The major problem with the pure social constructionist theories on homosexuality is its non-falsifiability. Much like pure Marxism, or pure Freudian-ism, it is difficult to ascertain the the truth value of any statement if the theory is continually being revised with an ad hoc explanation.1

Secondly, is the preeminent existence of historical research which shows the homosexuality existed prior to the nineteenth century.[5] There are a number of historical records which show that there was this sub-culture of men who preferred their own sex. According to Rictor Norton, the negative connotation of the homosexual orientation appeared throughout the world and history, in countries such as China, Japan, and Arabic nations. Words such as ``woman-hater'' or ``man-hater'' was associated with homosexual men and women respectively.

next up previous
Next: Essentialist Theory Up: A Unified Theory on Previous: A Unified Theory on
Elmo Recio 2000-12-06