About this course

This course will equip you with a foundational understanding of social constructivism, which essentially means the ‘reality’ constructed by social agents, environments and institutions. It will challenge you to engage critically in the way knowledge is produced and maintained within societies, particularly assessing the epistemology of ‘social facts’. We will further examine how social agents (e.g., school, religion, social media) can influence our identities. We will also contrast this ontology with functionalism as its main theory-opponent.

Lesson 1

Welcome to the class of Social Constructivism! I am very thrilled to finally kick-off the first day of class where we will be discussing what social constructivism is. Our main questions will be: What do we mean by “social construct”? How does this concept relate to our reality? Why is it an important concept? 

Before we begin, please watch the video “Social Constructivism (Day 1): What is Social Constructivism?” (5 minutes).

In addition, complete the following exercises:

  • In your own words, without looking it up, define “social constructivism”. NOTE: Do this BEFORE watching the TedTalk video (3 minutes).
  • Watch this TedTalk by Rory O’Carroll on “We construct our reality” (17 minutes).
    • Note down the main takeaways from the TedTalk. 
    • Note down any questions you might have about the thing discussed in the TedTalk. 
  • Ice breaker preparation (5 minutes): 
    • What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? Who told it to you?
    • Which fictional character is most like you and why?
    • If you knew you would not fail, what thing would you do?


Lesson 2

Hello everyone and welcome to your second day of social constructivism! This will be Part 1: What are the different socialisation agents (A)? (10 minutes) We will be covering the following questions: What is meant by socialisation? What are the different socialisation agents? What impact can they have on us? Watch the video above to go through some recap of what we covered yesterday and information of what we will be going through today. 

Also make sure to watch the following video: “Girls toys vs boys toys: The experiment – BBC stories” (3 minutes) and note down the different socialisation agents and the larger implications they can have on us throughout our life and early childhood. 

Lesson 3

Welcome to day 3 of Social Constructivism! This will be part 2 of socialisation agents (A) where we will be mainly covering the socialisation process in adolescence/adulthood of legitimate, illegitimate socialisation and re-socialisation. Our main focus questions for today are: How does socialisation work in adolescence/adulthood? How do different agents interact with one another? How is this applicable to our everyday lives? Please make sure to watch the video above before completing the daily exercise. Make sure to note down all questions, whether that be from the video above/questions that came up during your spare time/readings etc. Let us all make sure that we make this a habit!

Also make sure to watch this video: “Mean Girls Group Socialization” (3 minutes) and answer the questions from the first video on the different socialisation processes occurring in the video. Think about whether it is any different from early childhood, if so, how? 

I would also appreciate it if you could skim through the different socialisation agents that are mentioned in the following link: section 5.3 “Agents of Socialization(20 minutes). It is also a great chapter for those of you who requested additional resources to read up on, where it discusses the different processes about socialisation and agents in general. 

Lesson 4

Hello everyone and welcome to the fourth day of Social Constructivism! In today’s class we will be covering different socialisation environments (E) and institutions (I). The main questions we will be answering are the following: What are social environments and institutions? How do they shape us during the early stages of our lives? How do they interact with one another? Please make sure to watch the video above where we summarise yesterday’s class content of the different socialisation processes during adolescence/adulthood and briefly introduce some of the environments and institutions in social settings. 

Make sure to also watch this video (2 minutes) and reflect on: How can these impact us? What agents (A) can we identify in the video? In your own words, can you try to define social institutions? 

Please also make sure to read this (20 minutes) and think about the following questions: What is meant by primary social institutions? What are some examples of a secondary social institution that you personally have been exposed to and what impact did it have on you (preferably during early childhood but with a long-term impact)?  

Lesson 5

Happy FriYay & day 5 of Social Constructivism!!!! Please make sure to watch the video above, which shortly recaps what we have been learning up until this point and what we will be covering in today’s class. Today’s class will be Part 2 of Social Environments (E) and Institutions (I). We will cover the following questions: How do social environments and institutions differ as we grow older? Why are certain environments and institutions less/more impactful than others as we grow older? Is there a way for us to change social environments and institutions, if so, how? 

In addition, please make sure to watch this video (10 minutes) and think about the following questions: What is meant by “We are products of our social environments? How is this applicable to us? Can we think of an example from our own reality where this becomes evident (could be anything related to practices as shown in the video or something even within family/team/school traditions)? NOTE: Make sure to use as much of the terminology we have been learning in class as possible (agents, socialisation processes, identity, ontological stances, categories of practice v. analysis, (il)legitimate (re)socialisation, power, image of self-concept, institutions, environments). 

Lesson 6

Hello everyone and welcome to day 6 of Social Constructivism! Please watch the video above, which goes through today’s setup. Whilst watching the video, note down the amount of times I say the word “really” in the video! Jokes aside, I am really REALLY excited to kick-off this week with you guys! Today will be all about putting together the three amigos (A + E + I).

Remember, the only task you will be given today is gathering all the information from last week’s classes depending on your area of specialty (25 minutes). You will use the knowledge in your groups to work out one way to present it for the rest of the class. The group allocation: 

  • Group 1: Socialisation Processes (Ilma and Lejla)
    • Constructivist + Essentialist view points
    • MEAD’s stages of socialisation + adolescence/adulthood socialisation
  • Group 2: Socialisation Agents (Amra, Iman and Sama)
    • The ‘main’ agents and one example of how they can shape us
    • Different types of power 
    • The interaction processes (one example where both work mutually together, and one example where they divert) 
  • Group 3: Social Environments and Institutions (Banen, Šejla and Tamara) 
    • Primary, secondary institutions
    • Differences in early stages/adolescence + adulthood
    • Example of social change led by one of our social institutions

Lesson 7

Welcome to day 7 of Social Constructivism! Today’s topic will be all about understanding the main theory-opponent of Social Constructivism, namely functionalism. The key questions we will be asking ourselves are the following: What do we mean by functionalism? How does it apply to our everyday reality? How does it differ from Social Constructivism? Please watch the introductory video above for today’s session and note down what functionalism could be defined as according to you, BEFORE completing the next task.

Make sure to also read this chapter (25 minutes) and note down on the main takeaways from it, in your own words. The chapter discusses gender inequality from a functionalist perspective, which can prompt some thoughts and reflections. Note everything down, whether that be an immediate question or something that you do not necessarily agree with. I am excited to hear your thoughts on this! 

Lesson 8

Hello everyone and welcome to day 8 of Social Constructivism! In today’s class we will be bringing in our own examples and experiences of something relating to functionalism. Please watch the video above before proceeding with the rest of the text. 

We briefly covered the example of religion, prostitution, gender inequalities, abortion laws etc. and there were clearly some big interesting points mentioned there. In this class, I want us to explore these further with specific examples and the potential arguments that a functionalist perspective would utilise to support stances on particular issues. Hence, the theme of today’s class is exploring the different areas of a functionalist perspective. Be as creative with the assignment given today, it could be any real life example of your own or something that you have encountered – make sure to research something of your interest and bring it to class for further discussion (25 minutes)! 

Please make sure to also think about what contributions we would like to offer for the closing ceremony. I suggested the example of 2 schools under 1 roof, but we could definitely use something else to illustrate the meaning and importance of Social Constructivism! If you would like to use the example I mentioned, think about ideally how we would go on about that and what agents/institutions we would like to include in our analysis. Also make sure to think about what functionalist perspective would entail in defending the stance of preserving segregation and how a symbolic interactionist would deconstruct such claims. 

Lesson 9

Hello everyone and welcome to day 9 of Social Constructivism! We are closely approaching the end and we will use today’s class to fully engage in debate sessions. I decided to change the format for today’s class where we will be mainly dedicating all of the class to dwell deep into the discussion of 2 schools under 1 roof! We will begin with outlining how we would like to present our contribution and then be split into breakout rooms to decide what we will be using as our main arguments in respective group. We will then get back together and plan out how we will conduct the entire debate when all of our arguments have been listed. I have shared two google documents, one for each group. Make sure to research concrete examples and arguments that will be used during the debate to support your stance on this issue (25 minutes). Do NOT look into the other group’s documents, it will be more fun when we will prepare on our own and then share our results. 

Team functionalist perspective: Amra, Lejla, Sama and Iman. Google document here.

Team social constructivist perspective: Banen, Ilma, Šejla and Tamara. Google document here.

Looking forward to the fruitful discussion in class – see you soon!

Lesson 10

Hello everyone and welcome to our last day of Social Constructivism! It is actually with a really sad face that I am writing this, but I do have a little message for you in the video above! It has been a great pleasure teaching all of you eager, ambitious, and highly intelligent students! I am so proud of each and one of you, and I want us to have the best time ever during our last session together! 

The homework for today’s class will be to finish your part of the script that will be used for the closing ceremony. The script can be found here. Please make sure to have it finalised before the class so we can rehearse it once or twice during class. 

Again, thank you for everything – I will miss each and every one of you! Thank you for being such a GREAT GROUP of students! Remember, you have the agency and power to deconstruct the world now – lead and safeguard the narrative!✊

See you soon!


Brodi Senan