Matter, in the form of the human body, or in the form of the external objects that surround humans in their everyday lives, is fundamental to the formation of attachment between people, and between objects and people. …
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Matter, in the form of the human body, or in the form of the external objects that surround humans in their everyday lives, is fundamental to the formation of attachment between people, and between objects and people. In the reversal of processes causing such attachment, matter is equally important in allowing social detachment. If this supposition is to be considered carefully, it is evident that the proposals offered by a social constructionist argument in isolation do not completely serve to explain the connections and interactions between people and between people and objects. It is, though, clear that social practice and the collective meaning that groups of people engage in, do assist in the creation of social worlds. What groups perceive as appropriate in recognisable situations can be, to a degree, accepted as being formed by acknowledged rules, influenced by the social constructs surrounding those situations. But, social constructivists do not propose that the material world – the objects, bodies and nonhuman things – has any bearing on the construction of the social world: “... meanings are not inherent in the rock itself ... rather they are ascribed to it...” .Instead the social world will add meaning to the material world, within specific contexts, and thus form the rules of interactions between people and things. This unidirectional effect – that the social will only affect the material, rather than the reverse, or, indeed, a combination of both aspects – does not serve to explain the nature or processes of attachment or detachment completely. Social constructivist arguments include, then, the overarching understanding that human behaviour in specified contexts draws “on socially available rules, beliefs and conventions” (Gabb 2008: 32). This goes further, too. Human beings are guided in their behaviour by cultural and social conventions which determine even the feelings and emotions that are appropriate in defined situations. In fact, social constructivism will argue, it is particularly those feelings that people regard as fundamental and natural, or normative, is some way, that are guided by culture and society. (see Gabb 2008: 35) Individuality, it can be said, is formed by “social meaning and practices” (ibid: 47). The context, social milieu, and the social practices surrounding the individual are what form that individuality, personality and relationships with others. And the aspects of human lives that we consider most natural, or unquestionable because they really are part of human make up, can frequently be only the product of human behaviour, or the social world. Gabb (2008) argues that even the most basic of human assumptions about themselves – gender – is brought into existence through specific social behaviours and social organisation which is not questioned by individuals. Rather than accept the biological determinants that humans do exhibit characteristics defined by their gender, the social constructionist thinker might ask: might biological sex be “... a social category ... Something learned rather than something that we are?” (Gabb 2008: 28). Therefore even a very accepted view on human behaviour – the definition of personal gender – can be considered to be constructed by society rather than a natural or biologically determined characteristic, if the social constructionist approach is adopted. While the proposals of social constructionist theories do serve to explain human behaviour and social adaptation to some degree, it does appear that the
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