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Unformatted text preview: y, and with multiple points of entry. Critics of this view have asked, if there is no way to rank order causes how can we ever devise a strategy for social change. My answer to that criticism will emerge in the subsequent paragraphs. Figure 12. Two views of social reality: hierarchy of tap roots and non‐hierarchical laterals 4. Three Levels of Discursive Construction All objects of the natural and human world are discursive constructions. As physicist David Bohm (1992: 387) wrote, “The universe is one seamless, unbroken whole, and all the forms we see in it are abstracted by our way of looking and thinking, which is convenient at times, helping us with our technology, for example.” According to Bohm if you watch a whirlpool or a vortex, you see the water going around, but the vortex does not actually exist; there is only moving water. The vortex is a pattern and a form that the mind abstracts from the sensations of seeing moving water. 18 All objects are discursively constructed with no exceptions. Objects exist materially, but only enter our view through the operation of these discursive principles. The discursive construction of objects of study occurs at three levels: semiotic, social, and hierarchical. At the first level all objects of study are semiotically constructed with no exceptions. This is shown by set A in figure 13 and so the set {not‐A} is empty (not A = Ø). This follows logically from the three semiotic principles I laid out in the first part of this paper: discursive selection, aggregation, and differentiation. Distinguishing “social” from “semiotic” construction Within the set of objects A, there is a subset of objects B that is socially constructed—here there are social influences at work in the process of selection, aggregation, and differentiation. Light can behave like waves or like particles. Nobody has actually ever seen an electron. We understand their behavior through models we construct. There is however, a crucial difference between that kind of construction and the construction of social categories like poverty, deviancy, gender, and race. Most obviously, the...
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