How and to what extent fear is socially constructed?
“Social constructs are institutionalized entity or artifacts in a social system, invented or constructed by participants in a particular culture or society that exist because people agree to behave as if it exist, or agree to follow certain conventional rules, or behave as if such agreement or rules existed” (wikipedia.org). Social constructs are created entities in which people or groups of people perceived them to be true. Social constructs are perceived realities that are put into a convention to be turned into social beliefs. Some examples of social constructs are religion, morality, sexuality, class and many more. These social constructs play a major role in people’s daily lives.
Social constructs became an integral part of people’s daily lives. These became inevitable realities of their existence. Basically, how people act are based on social constructions. Social constructions dictate the everyday lives of people. Social constructs determine how people will act and what their pattern of actions is. These social constructs are the perceived rightness of actions in a particular given situation. Therefore, people’s lives are controlled and move by social constructs.
Social constructs evolve and changes as time pass by. It depends on the richness of thought of human beings. The minds of human beings are very rich and full of possibilities. People have the capability of evolving one system of thought into another. A particular social construct is not permanent and will not last forever because it only depends on the people who were the ones who constructed them. Social constructs are dynamic because the minds of people are also dynamic. What most people are experiencing now may just become a history of tomorrow.
WHAT IS FEAR?
Fear is a feeling in which one is afraid of something. Fear is manifested on things that people does not want to happen. Most people are afraid of violent crimes, death and many more. These are things that are part of people’s everyday states of affairs that they ought not to experience. Fear is an unpleasant feeling, a form of anxiety that no one wants to experience on a daily basis. It is a feeling of danger. In an experience of fear, a man has an adrenaline rush. There are sudden mechanisms in the body such as being frozen and the brain will release hormones with immediacy that will have an immediate decision on what option will it take to evade danger. These mechanisms happen in a short period of time but for the person experiencing fear, it is one of the hardest moments in his life for sue. Basically, no one wants to experience the rigor of experiencing fear.
IS FEAR OF GOING TO HELL A MERE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION?
There are many social constructs that people are living their lives with everyday. These are the beliefs in the teachings of religion such as the belief of going to hell if one is to die as a sinner, even the belief that politicians will protect them from nuclear attacks and many more other beliefs. In short, people’s lives are bounded by fears of something that might destroy their lives in living their own idea of happiness.
Religion to some extent is seen as just a mere social construction for many because of the fact that no one has really seen God. Many atheists view religion and God as only the filler of gaps in knowledge. The concept of God was made in order to complete the gap on understanding in terms of having an explanation in the creation of the world. Because man’s intelligence is not enough, they created an image of someone which is all knowing and all powerful God. To many atheists, God is only a projection of man’s imperfections, the projection of things that are not present in man.
The social construction of religion in spite of its many doubters has always been very influential to people’s lives. Most people today are making religion’s teachings as the basis of their actions. Religion’s teachings become more of the standard of morality for many people. The adherence of many people in the kind of morality preached by religion is also made possible by the fear created to each and everyone of them. This fear is the prospect of going to hell if one’s life is lived in immorality. As a result of this fear of going to hell, many people are following the teachings of religion.
Religion’s teachings surely promote peace and love that are great elements in achieving a harmonious society that makes society a better place to live. Everyone wants to live in peace and harmony. No human being wants to live his life amidst chaos and hardships. Indeed, religion is a social construction. But it does not discount the fact that God really do exist. Being a social construct, religion still cannot be defined as purely a social construction. There are intimate and selective moments that God as some testified to have manifested himself.
There are a lot of aspects in religion that people simply cannot understand. People are limited in their own ways and do not have wisdom of understanding everything. Fear of going to hell is a social construct but it does not mean it is false. One thing that we can derive from this social construction is the fact that most people are following religion’s teachings because of the fear of going to hell. By following the teachings of religions, it is of reality that people can evade violence. Fear of going to hell is not purely a social construction. There are also mechanisms inside being human that entails such as fears and calmness. Part of the integral human structure which is very complex is the art of survival and by fear, it is being shaped and harness.
FEAR AS A MECHANISM FOR SURVIVAL AND BEYOND
Fear is certainly a mechanism for survival. Fear helps human beings to be cautious and keen in their everyday activities. Just like the fear of going to go to hell, fear acts as a warning of not doing bad things or inflicting pain to others because it may cause one’s soul to be in hell. This is a means for survival because by not inflicting pain to others, one is of lesser possibility to be given pain by others also. One obvious fear that makes fear as a means for survival is the fear of being victimized by a serial killer. Such fear gives birth to being cautious which means one is doing everything he can not to be killed by the killer. The presence of fear in an individual makes an individual be cautious in his moves. In this sense, fear serves as a tool in order for one to survive.
But when we look at the idea of fear and how it affects people in a society, we can see that there is a bigger implication that fears as being a means for survival. Fear now can be seen as a catalyst to a better and harmonious society. Fear serves also as a means to achieve a better society. This better society to live is a society where people are have fears but fears does not only evolve in the fears of something wrong will happen to an individual but also becomes a fear of inflicting pain to others.
Fear is an avenue where more than the reality of survival, it creates a less opportunity for criminals to perpetuate crimes because people are more cautious and therefore creating a happier society. Fear also, since even its being a social construct does not discount the presence of God and life after death, it creates an opportunity for people to achieve what they feel will give meaning to their lives. Fear of going to hell is also a fear of not finding meaning in one’s existence.
Living in a world of chaos and violence and facing the prospect of going to hell as religion says so is not having meaning because as again perceived by most people, happiness is in the things which are right and just. But again the criteria for true happiness are also a social construction. How people understand the world is a social construction. What’s important is that even people are following social constructions, they are also finding the meaning of their existence, and they are also finding their own essence.
Therefore, fear is more a means for survival. It helps human beings find the essence of their own existence and thereby achieving a happy and harmonious society.
Fear is a social construction but not purely a social construction. Fear can also be seen as a natural part of being human where there is the taking over of the instinct to survive. Fear as a social construction especially in the context of going to hell may for some is a devotion to unreal ideas but looking at the bigger side of having fear, people are slowly achieving their own essence. Fear becomes the means not only for survival but in making men truly human beings. Fear is then a means for men to achieve their own essences and the primordial reality of their own existence.
The fear dictated by religion may be seen by some as false fears or fears of the unreal, we cannot really judge everything to be right or wrong. Religion is a far more complex field of beliefs. Religion is always coupled with mystery. The only certain about religion is the fact that we know that it promotes a harmonious society and it is beneficial to people. Beyond its being a social construction, religion is an essential part of society and of the lives of the people.
Social constructions even of its nature are also vital in making and achieving a happier society. Fear is one of these social constructions but is it of great significance in our world.
Bogossian, Paul. What is Social Construction. 01 Mar. 2007
Jenkins, Philip. Using Murder: The Social Construction of Serial Homicide. Aldine Transaction, 1994.
Zuckerman, Phil. Invitation to Sociology of Religion. UK: Routledge, 2003.