Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 9

Social Construction Related Abstracts

9 The Social Construction of the Family among the Survivors of Sex Trafficking

Authors: Nisha James, Shubha Ranganathan

Abstract:

Sex trafficking is a traumatic ongoing process which includes human rights violations against the victims. Majority of the trafficked individuals in India are from families with low socioeconomic status, from rural areas, unmarried or married off at a very young age. Many of the sex trafficked feel that it is necessary to make sacrifices, for the benefit of their families. The combination of these cultural family values with the stigma of rape and prostitution are manipulated and used as a tool in the abuse of power against the sex trafficked. The rescue, rehabilitation and reintegration of these individuals are usually difficult due to the stigma and social exclusion that they face. In these circumstances, social support is very effective in social inclusion of these individuals. The present study was a qualitative one, using semi-structured interviews with 29 Indian survivors of sex trafficking and a few sex workers. Thematic analysis was done on the data derived from the semi-structured interviews. The major findings indicate that the family can be seen as both the ‘cause’ for being sex trafficked, and the factor in victim continuing to be sex trafficked. At the same time, it can also become a driver for getting rescued, rehabilitated and reintegrated. The study also explores the social construction about ‘family’ among the survivors of sex trafficking, reflecting on who they refer to as ‘family’, what they mean by the term ‘family’ and how these families emerge. Therefore the analytic concept of ‘family’ is a crucial element in sex trafficking and cannot be defined only in terms of its conventional definition of a basic unit of society.

Keywords: Family, Social Construction, sex-trafficking, survivor

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8 Challenging the Theory of Mind: Autism Spectrum Disorder, Social Construction, and Biochemical Explanation

Authors: Caroline Kim

Abstract:

The designation autism spectrum disorder (ASD) groups complex disorders in the development of the brain. Autism is defined essentially as a condition in which an individual lacks a theory of mind. The theory of mind, in this sense, explains the ability of an individual to attribute feelings, emotions, or thoughts to another person. An autistic patient is characteristically unable to determine what an interlocutor is feeling, or to understand the beliefs of others. However, it is possible that autism cannot plausibly characterized as the lack of theory of mind in an individual. Genes, the bran, and its interplay with environmental factors may also cause autism. A mutation in a gene may be hereditary, or instigated by diseases such as mumps. Though an autistic patient may experience abnormalities in the cerebellum and the cortical regions, these are in fact only possible theories as to a biochemical explanation behind the disability. The prevailing theory identifying autism with lacking the theory of mind is supported by behavioral observation, but this form of observation is itself determined by socially constructed standards, limiting the possibility for empirical verification. The theory of mind infers that the beliefs and emotions of people are causally based on their behavior. This paper demonstrates the fallacy of this inference, critiquing its basis in socially constructed values, and arguing instead for a biochemical approach free from the conceptual apparatus of language and social expectation.

Keywords: Autism spectrum disorder, Social Construction, sociology of psychology, the theory of mind

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7 A Qualitative Research of Online Fraud Decision-Making Process

Authors: Semire Yekta

Abstract:

Many online retailers set up manual review teams to overcome the limitations of automated online fraud detection systems. This study critically examines the strategies they adapt in their decision-making process to set apart fraudulent individuals from non-fraudulent online shoppers. The study uses a mix method research approach. 32 in-depth interviews have been conducted alongside with participant observation and auto-ethnography. The study found out that all steps of the decision-making process are significantly affected by a level of subjectivity, personal understandings of online fraud, preferences and judgments and not necessarily by objectively identifiable facts. Rather clearly knowing who the fraudulent individuals are, the team members have to predict whether they think the customer might be a fraudster. Common strategies used are relying on the classification and fraud scorings in the automated fraud detection systems, weighing up arguments for and against the customer and making a decision, using cancellation to test customers’ reaction and making use of personal experiences and “the sixth sense”. The interaction in the team also plays a significant role given that some decisions turn into a group discussion. While customer data represent the basis for the decision-making, fraud management teams frequently make use of Google search and Google Maps to find out additional information about the customer and verify whether the customer is the person they claim to be. While this, on the one hand, raises ethical concerns, on the other hand, Google Street View on the address and area of the customer puts customers living in less privileged housing and areas at a higher risk of being classified as fraudsters. Phone validation is used as a final measurement to make decisions for or against the customer when previous strategies and Google Search do not suffice. However, phone validation is also characterized by individuals’ subjectivity, personal views and judgment on customer’s reaction on the phone that results in a final classification as genuine or fraudulent.

Keywords: Data Mining, Social Construction, online fraud, manual review

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6 Against the Philosophical-Scientific Racial Project of Biologizing Race

Authors: Anthony F. Peressini

Abstract:

The concept of race has recently come prominently back into discussion in the context of medicine and medical science, along with renewed effort to biologize racial concepts. This paper argues that this renewed effort to biologize race by way of medicine and population genetics fail on their own terms, and more importantly, that the philosophical project of biologizing race ought to be recognized for what it is—a retrograde racial project—and abandoned. There is clear agreement that standard racial categories and concepts cannot be grounded in the old way of racial naturalism, which understand race as a real, interest-independent biological/metaphysical category in which its members share “physical, moral, intellectual, and cultural characteristics.” But equally clear is the very real and pervasive presence of racial concepts in individual and collective consciousness and behavior, and so it remains a pressing area in which to seek deeper understanding. Recent philosophical work has endeavored to reconcile these two observations by developing a “thin” conception of race, grounded in scientific concepts but without the moral and metaphysical content. Such “thin,” science-based analyses take the “commonsense” or “folk” sense of race as it functions in contemporary society as the starting point for their philosophic-scientific projects to biologize racial concepts. A “philosophic-scientific analysis” is a special case of the cornerstone of analytic philosophy: a conceptual analysis. That is, a rendering of a concept into the more perspicuous concepts that constitute it. Thus a philosophic-scientific account of a concept is an attempt to work out an analysis of a concept that makes use of empirical science's insights to ground, legitimate and explicate the target concept in terms of clearer concepts informed by empirical results. The focus in this paper is on three recent philosophic-scientific cases for retaining “race” that all share this general analytic schema, but that make use of “medical necessity,” population genetics, and human genetic clustering, respectively. After arguing that each of these three approaches suffers from internal difficulties, the paper considers the general analytic schema employed by such biologizations of race. While such endeavors are inevitably prefaced with the disclaimer that the theory to follow is non-essentialist and non-racialist, the case will be made that such efforts are not neutral scientific or philosophical projects but rather are what sociologists call a racial project, that is, one of many competing efforts that conjoin a representation of what race means to specific efforts to determine social and institutional arrangements of power, resources, authority, etc. Accordingly, philosophic-scientific biologizations of race, since they begin from and condition their analyses on “folk” conceptions, cannot pretend to be “prior to” other disciplinary insights, nor to transcend the social-political dynamics involved in formulating theories of race. As a result, such traditional philosophical efforts can be seen to be disciplinarily parochial and to address only a caricature of a large and important human problem—and thereby further contributing to the unfortunate isolation of philosophical thinking about race from other disciplines.

Keywords: Population Genetics, Racism, Social Construction, ontology of race, race-based medicine, racial formation theory, racial projects

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5 Reproduction of New Media Art Village around NTUT: Heterotopia of Visual Culture Art Education

Authors: Yu Cheng-Yu

Abstract:

‘Heterotopia’, ‘Visual Cultural Art Education’ and ‘New Media’ of these three subjects seemingly are irrelevant. In fact, there are synchronicity and intertextuality inside. In addition to visual culture, art education inspires students the ability to reflect on popular culture image through visual culture teaching strategies in school. We should get involved in the community to construct the learning environment that conveys visual culture art. This thesis attempts to probe the heterogeneity of space and value from Michel Foucault and to research sustainable development strategy in ‘New Media Art Village’ heterogeneity from Jean Baudrillard, Marshall McLuhan's media culture theory and social construction ideology. It is possible to find a new media group that can convey ‘Visual Culture Art Education’ around the National Taipei University of Technology in this commercial district that combines intelligent technology, fashion, media, entertainment, art education, and marketing network. Let the imagination and innovation of ‘New Media Art Village’ become ‘implementable’ and new media Heterotopia of inter-subjectivity with the engagement of big data and digital media. Visual culture art education will also bring aesthetics into the community by New Media Art Village.

Keywords: Big Data, New Media, Heterogeneity, Social Construction, visual culture art education

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4 Motivation for Higher Education: An Exploration of Lived Experiences of Students with Disabilities in a Ghanaian University

Authors: Yaw Akoto

Abstract:

The social construction of disability in a Ghanaian society has created a restriction on the development of the academic potentials of persons with disabilities. Ghanaian societal perceptions position persons with disabilities as needy, evil, feeble and 'abnormal' that a person with disability cannot contribute anything meaningful to their own development, society, and the nation as well. Almost all Ghanaian cultures believe the Gods visit evil people with disability as such they erect barriers that limit them to select and enroll in education. The few people with disabilities who gain admission to schools drop out due to these barriers erected by the society and institutions. However, there are very few of these students who are able to pursue their education at the higher education level despite these challenges. This qualitative study explores the motivation of students with disabilities to select and enroll in a Ghanaian university. The study used semi-structured interview to solicit information from students with disabilities in a Ghanaian university. Although the quality of students with disabilities experience was affected by culture, discrimination, marginalisation, and lack of support, the prospect of using themselves as role models, employment opportunities and family impingement were among others that pushed them to embark on their educational journey. The findings of this study have implications for societal and institutional levels for restructuring and refining societal perception and institutional policies on disabilities.

Keywords: beliefs, Social Construction, students with disabilities, Ghanaian university

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3 Mordechai Vanunu: “The Atomic Spy” as a Nuclear Threat to Discourse in Israeli Society

Authors: Ada Yurman

Abstract:

Using the case of Israeli Atomic Spy Mordechai Vanunu as an example, this study sought to examine social response to political deviance whereby social response can be mobilized in order to achieve social control. Mordechai Vanunu, a junior technician in the Dimona Atomic Research Center, played a normative role in the militaristic discourse while working in the “holy shrine” of the Israeli defense system for many years. At a certain stage, however, Vanunu decided to detach himself from this collective and launched an assault on this top-secret circle. Israeli society in general and the security establishment in particular found this attack intolerable and unforgivable. They presented Vanunu as a ticking time bomb, delegitimized him and portrayed him as “other”. In addition, Israeli enforcement authorities imposed myriad prohibitions and sanctions on Vanunu even after his release from prison – “as will be done to he who desecrates holiness.” Social response to Vanunu at the time of his capture and trial was studied by conducting a content analysis of six contemporary daily newspapers. The analysis focused on use of language and forms of expression. In contrast with traditional content analysis methodology, this study did not just look at frequency of expressions of ideas and terms in the text and covert content; rather, the text was analyzed as a structural whole, and included examination of style, tone and unusual use of imagery, and more, in order to uncover hidden messages within the text. The social response to this case was extraordinarily intense, not only because in this case of political deviance, involving espionage and treason, Vanunu’s actions comprised a real potential threat to the country, but also because of the threat his behavior posed to the symbolic universe of society. Therefore, the response to this instance of political deviance can be seen as being part of a mechanism of social control aiming to protect world view of society as a whole, as well as to punish the criminal.

Keywords: Militarism, Social Control, Social Construction, political deviance

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2 Sustainable Development Goals and Gender Equality: Impact of Unpaid Labor on Women’s Leadership in India

Authors: Swati Vohra

Abstract:

A genuine economic and social transformation requires equal contribution and participation from both men and women; however, achieving this gender parity is a global concern. In the patriarchal societies around the world, women have been silenced, oppressed, and subjugated. Girls and women comprise half of the world’s population. This, however, must not be the lone reason for recognizing and providing equal opportunities to them. Every individual has a right to develop through opportunities without the biases of gender, caste, race, or ethnicity. The world today is confronted by pressing issues of climate change, economic crisis, violence against women and children, escalating conflicts, to name a few. Achieving gender parity is thus an essential component in meeting this wide array of challenges in order to create just, robust and inclusive societies. In 2015, The United Nation enunciated achieving 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, one of which is SGD#5- Gender Equality, that is not merely a stand-alone goal. It is central to the achievement of all 17 SDG’s. Without progress on gender equality, the global community will not only fail to achieve the SDG5, but it will also lose the impetus towards achieving the broad 2030 agenda. This research is based on a hypothesis that aims to connect the targets laid by the UN under SDG#5 - 5.4 (Recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work) and 5.5 (Ensure women participation for leadership at all levels of decision-making). The study evaluates the impact of unpaid household responsibilities on women’s leadership in India. In Indian society, women have experienced a low social status for centuries, which is reflected throughout the Indian history with preference of a male child and common occurrences of female infanticides that are still prevalent in many parts of the country. Insistence on the traditional gender roles builds patriarchal inequalities into the structure of Indian society. It is argued that a burden of unpaid labor on women is placed, which narrows the opportunities and life chances women are given and the choices they are able to make, thereby shutting them from shared participation in public and economic leadership. The study investigates theoretical framework of social construction of gender, unpaid labor, challenges to women leaders and peace theorist perspective as the core components. The methodology used is qualitative research of comprehensive literature, accompanied by the data collected through interviews of representatives of women leaders from various fields within Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR). The women leaders interviewed had the privilege of receiving good education and a conducive family support; however, post marriage and children it was not the case and the social obligations weighed heavy on them. The research concludes by recommending the importance of gender-neutral parenting and education along with government ratified paternal leaves for at least six months and childcare facilities available for both the parents at workplace.

Keywords: Peace Studies, Gender equality, Gender Roles, Sustainable Development Goals, Social Construction, unpaid labor, women’s leadership

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1 The New Far-Right: The Social Construction of Hatred against the Contemporary Islamic Community in Multicultural Australia

Authors: Angel Adams

Abstract:

In Australia, the contemporary social construction of hatred against the Islamic community was facilitated through the mainstream media. Australian public figures who have depicted Muslims and Islam not only as potential terrorists but also as incompatible with the country’s values and identities have helped to increase the level of fear against the Islamic community, leading sympathetic far-right movements to shift discussions towards anti-Islamic and anti-Muslim rhetoric. Political opportunities combined with a socially constructed narrative of fear of the ‘other’, introduced during the White Australia Policy of 1901, has allowed extreme and radical far-right movements to justify hate against the contemporary Australian Islamic community. This study aims to answer the following question: How does Australia’s founding provide a fertile environment to the spread of hatred against the contemporary Islamic community? The paper demonstrates that a forged social construct of grievances concerning the Islamic community in Australia has led to a surge in supply of far-right activism to combat what has become a perceived ‘national threat’. In essence, Australia’s history of a fear of the ‘other’ brings challenges to a multicultural society, and can potentially lead to a more unstable socio-political environment where abuse and violence are normalized and more likely to develop. Furthermore, the paper aims to bring a more nuanced understanding of what is considered ‘new far-right’ discourses with shared anti-Islam and anti-Muslim agendas in Australia. The political opportunity structures theory was the mechanism used to determine how new forms of far-right groups have become more mainstream in Australia. Previous studies on far-right groups in Australia have relied on qualitative data, but further empirical research in this area is sorely needed. Above all, this paper clarifies how hatred against minorities can have a negative impact on wider communities and allow a global narrative of ‘us’ versus ‘them’ to erupt from the fringes of society in Australia.

Keywords: Islamophobia, Political Violence, Australia, Nationalism, Social Construction, far-right, political opportunity structures

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