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Unformatted text preview: objects of social categories are other sentient human beings whose life circumstances are materially affected by what is thought, said and written about them. Figure 13 Three levels of discursive construction of social objects – a Venn diagram The following examples may help further clarify the difference between semiotic and social construction. The two objects, “an igneous rock” and “a deciduous forest,” are semiotically constructed, but not socially. In the construction of an igneous rock the selection criteria are based on the origin of the rock, the rock exists at a certain level of aggregation, and it is differentiated from other rocks such as sedimentary and metamorphic. Similarly, in the case of the deciduous forest the trees are selected because of annual leaf fall, the area in which the trees are present is aggregated to anappropriate level, and the forest area is differentiated 19 from other vegetation such as coniferous and tropical forests. Now consider another example of a rock, a precious diamond, which is not only semiotically constructed (as all rocks are) but also socially constructed. The diamond’s preciousness comes from concepts of value and scarcity both of which are socially constructed. Throughout history diamonds have been highly regarded as objects of beauty, wealth, and prestige, thus creating a high demand for diamonds. The scarcity of diamonds does not occur just because diamonds are rare in nature. Scarcity occurs whenever demand for a commodity exceeds its supply. By that definition the scarcity of diamonds is socially constructed. Analagously, we might say that a while a deciduous forest is semiotically constructed, the notion of a “timber stand” is socially constructed. Hierarchical construction and privileged binaries Three more terms are needed to advance this conversation: subject, object, and discourse. The primary proposition to keep in mind here is that in the case of social categories the three elements—subject, object, and discourse—are mutually constituted (Figure 14). Figure 14. Subject,...
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This document was uploaded on 01/24/2014.

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