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Social Construct - Weakens Creativity and Innovation

Updated on April 6, 2016
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Definition of Social Constructs

Gender. Race. Happiness. Among others, these are social constructs society has attached substance to objects and events with peoples' interaction with said objects and events. It is so ingrained in our daily lives where we rarely give it a second thought. We have stopped asking who has deemed wealth must be measured in monetary terms or why must a person act in such a way to conform to the norms of society. By complying with societal norms, the creative juices and innovative thinkers are squeezed out.

There are selected individuals in this world who denies the status quo and does what they want, what they deem as necessary to succeed. Take Elon Musk, and Sir Richard Branson as examples. Everyone has said space travel will not be affordable to the general public or electric cars with their technologies are too expensive for the regular folks to have access to. The Tesla Model 3 and Virgin Galactic are a testament to their resolve. Social constructs are in a way putting restrictions on creativity and innovation in exchange for order from chaos. There has to be a balance; a person cannot oppose the rules set in place for society to function and commit criminal acts but to question the status quo and act to make it better.

Gender & Race - Social Construct

One of the biggest social constructs in our time is that of gender. Gender represents how society distinguishes from men and women. There are obvious biological differences between men and women from a genitalia standpoint but through the socialization process, the gender construct has now become a way for society to manufacture masculine and feminine identities. With the differentiation between masculine and feminine identities, society then naturally progresses to tasks and roles for these identities. Why not use a term that doesn't classify men and women into such clear, concise categories?

Through millenniums of migrations to all corners of the globe we have developed distinct cultures and a sense of self. It is through the evolution of race identity, religious beliefs and stereotypes where hatred has reared its' ugly head. The notion that Whites are better than Blacks is certain circles exemplifies this. Globally the classification of peoples into categories has lead to social movements, and protests. For example, a lesser known protest in the Far East was that of a Vietnamese Buddhist monk who burned himself alive at a busy interaction in Saigon, now known as Ho Chi Minh City, to protest the persecution and mis-treatment of South Vietnamese Buddhists. The human race all originated from Africa, we were all one family so through our interactions why must we persecute, belittle and look down on others?

Thich Quang Duc setting himself on fire to protest the mis-treating of Vietnamese Buddhists by the government
Thich Quang Duc setting himself on fire to protest the mis-treating of Vietnamese Buddhists by the government | Source

Social Constructionism - Easy Analogy

One of the easiest ways to interpret social construct's existence is to imagine a game of hockey. When we are playing with hockey for the very first time; as a 5 year old, a 7 year old whatever the case may be; in our backyards, there is no notion of positional play, it's just a stick and a puck and we shoot it at a solid object (i.e. wall, garage door etc). As we grow up and start to play with friends, the idea of each player playing in a specific position starts to become evident; as an example, there is now a person who specifically plays the goalie position. Rules that has been put in place by the NHL games we watch start to be implemented in games. When we then move to the professional level, the game of hockey has developed over the years to have rules that govern how players should conduct themselves on and off the ice, how hockey organizations have to abide by a schedule for trades and draft days; they even have a board who reviews goals and issue suspensions.

In essence, hockey can be played in a multitude of ways but because of what we see on TV as the pinnacle of professionalism in players, we follow suit. Is this really a good thing though? By conforming, are we not limiting our creativity by developing the sport on another tangent perhaps?

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Social Construct vs. Creative & Innovative Thinking

By closing our minds and living our lives according to what the status quo has defined as "proper" is to exterminate ones creative juices. From the moment we are born there are no preconceptions, only through our interactions with people around us and environmental factors do we start to develop and gravitate to the social constructs which has been fabricated. As a result, when we are faced with a problem and is forced to find a solution, we are rarely able to find the optimal solution because biases are bombarding our thought processes.

Although we can approach a problem from an objective point of view and start to address it from an objective standpoint, it isn't the easiest thing to do. Often times we make decisions based on research we have done and more often than not, the research we do are the opinions and reviews of others who have experienced the same thing we are trying to address at that moment in time. For instance, let's say we are trying to solve a parking issue the city is experiencing. Often the solution is to look at other cities which had tackled the same issue in the past, analyze how they resolve it and try to implement it in their own city. However the drawback with this is every city is different, and the populace is unique in the cultural makeup. Therefore, there isn't a cookie cutter solution.

The challenge then becomes how can we block out interference and think creatively to resolve an issue; takes practice, takes a calm state of mind and above all else, a willingness to put in the hours to literally dive into the problem and come up with a solution that's a win-win. The easy way of course is to come up with a solution for the short term, but the long term is we as humans to aim for.

Take an objective approach. Break it down into chunks and think of each moving part as a separate entity requiring different solutions.
Take an objective approach. Break it down into chunks and think of each moving part as a separate entity requiring different solutions. | Source

Implications of Social Constructionism

The implications of varying degrees of social constructionism hampers our way of live by dividing us, by greatly reducing our ability to cooperatively and creatively resolve tasks and issues. Albeit differences in cultures and mindsets allow for a richer pool of potential solutions to pool from, however, often there is an underlying notion which says "my way is better". Social constructionism is a very paradoxical theory. It inhibits hatred, racism and the notion of a race, a gender, a group of peoples being better than others. On the other hand, it allows for a richer experience in the interactions, the conversations, and the exchange of ideas. Creativity and innovation is not a solid idea, it is dynamic, it can change and accommodate with society. We all know China is the largest polluter in the world but they have taken innovative steps to remove that dubious tag by having the greenest city in the world in Baoding, southwest of Beijing. Take this opportunity to think about global warming. Why is it such a difficult problem to tackle as a whole? What kind of solutions would you come up with?

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