Essay Social Problems

Submitted By mdiallo8
Words: 1333
Pages: 6

Introduction to Social Problems
Chapter 1: Studying Social Problems

Social Problems
• Social problem = an issue that negatively affects a person’s state of being in a society and is usually a matter of public controversy • Activity: What do you think is the most important social problem today? • Social problems change over time -compare to 1935

The Sociological Imagination
• Sociological Imagination (SI) = ability to look beyond the individual as the cause for success and failure and see how one’s society influences the outcome (by C. Wright Mills) • Is the person homeless because of the economy (macro – large scale point of view) or drug addiction (micro – small scale reference)? • When people see the problems as personal, all they can do is try to deal with their troubles as one individual • SI transforms personal troubles into social issues – affect not only us also countless people like us

Objective / Subjective Realities
• Objective realities of a social problem can be confirmed by collection of data (measurable) -i.e. SE region of U.S. is poorest • Subjectivity – judgment based on personal feelings and opinions rather than external facts -i.e. all homeless people are drunks

Claims Making
• Process of convincing the public and important public officials that a particular issue or situation should be defined as a social problem • 1st step) convincing others that the existing situation is not acceptable • Ordinary people can make claims more effectively by joining together -i.e. MADD, Take Back the Night • Can occur quickly (Occupy Wall Street) or may take years • Mass media is important in getting message out • Ultimate is to get law passed

Social Movements
• Organized effort at claims making that tries to shape the way people think about an issue to encourage or discourage social change • Stages 1) Emergence – people coming together, i.e. Occupy movement 2) Coalescence – new organization makes public its beliefs and engaging in political lobbying 3) Formalization – become established players on political scene; move from volunteers to paid staff 4) Decline – no guarantee of success

Eight Assertions
1) Society shapes our lives – unemployment worse for those less educated 2) Not caused by bad people 3) Socially constructed – social problems arise as people define conditions as undesirable and in need of change; i.e. automobiles as a social problem (?) vs. homicides 4) See problems differently 5) Definitions of problems change over time 6) Involve subjective values as well as objective facts 7) Some problems can be solved – or reduced, i.e. Social Security benefits assist elderly 8) Are related – better economy, reduce homelessness

Social Problems - Review
• Define: Social problem is a social condition or pattern of behavior that has negative consequences for individuals, social world, or our physical world • Socially Constructed: Social problems come into being as people define an issue as harmful and in need of change • Many conditions harmful to thousands of people are never defined as social problems, i.e. traffic accidents

Theoretical Approaches
• Theoretical approaches – guide sociologists’ research and theory building • 3 major paradigms – theoretical framework through scientists study the world Macro Level – large scale point of view (societal level) 1) Functionalism 2) Conflict theory / Feminism Micro Level – small scale reference (group / individual level) 3) Symbolic interactionism

Structural Functionalism
1) • Structural Functional Approach – complex system made up of different interrelated parts main parts of this system = social institutions are major spheres of social life, or societal subsystems, organized to meet a basic human need, i.e. family – cares and raises children; education provides young people with the skills they need for adult life; and economy – produces and distributes material goods Examines the function or consequences of structure of society