They are products of the human mind massaged or polished by social discourse and elevated to the status of received wisdom by agreement among members of the social group who are creating the construct (see Berger and Luckmann 1966).
In some contexts, people more or less automatically and passively acquire their allegiance to important social constructs. For example, we gradually adopt the fundamental beliefs, values, assumptions, and behavioral norms of our ‘tribe’ or society simply by growing up in a particular cultural milieu. In other situations—in church or in school, for example—we are essentially the captives of social institutions that exist explicitly to indoctrinate their ‘clients’ with the accepted way of seeing the world. In any event, by the time most people have reached mature adulthood they will have accepted their culture’s overall ‘narrative’ and will subscribe, consciously or not, to any number of subsidiary religious, political, social and disciplinary paradigms.
It is important to underscore that, although it masquerades as ‘reality’ in our consciousness, all formal ‘knowledge’ is, in fact, socially constructed. Some constructs are entirely made up—there is no corresponding structure in the natural world for ‘civil rights’ or ‘communism’, for example. These well-known concepts were birthed and given legs entirely through words and social discourse. Other socially-constructed frameworks have been erected specifically to describe corresponding real-world phenomena. For example, everyone here will agree that ‘the economy’ is that set of activities central to the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services in a specified region or country. Nevertheless, such activities exist in all societies whether or not the people have any formal concept of ‘the economy’