Artifice is an archaic word, used more commonly in older writings. An example is:
Man is a growth by law and not a creation by artifice.
-James Allen circa1903.
If you look at the date of your writing and/or the education of your author, you may see a clearer option to his or her intent. After all, antonyms for ‘artifice’ are: fairness, candor, simplicity, and openness.
‘Social artifice’ could very well and I presumably believe to mean social manipulation or trickery.
Good words that once held specific definitions lose their given qualities when used loosely a few times, and then we are all left needing more context, when the answer should be perfectly clear.