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Social Problems Preface Notes briefly outlines main points of the text's preface

Course Code
Lorne Tepperman

of 1
Monday, May 16, 2011.
SOC 102 H
Social Inequality
Social Problems Text Reading Notes
- social problems have both social causes + social consequences
- social problems do exist yet they are socially constructed
- if ppl did not think it was a problem, it would cease being one at least in
terms of consciousness, social definitions and social action
- bc they are socially constructed, they can be traced historically at their rise
and fall over time (when they were seen as a problem)
- moral panics = sudden, widespread + fleeting concerns about immorality of
one particular group
- some social problems aren’t merely socially constructed; they’re serious
matters of health - matters of life and death (ex. Poverty, racial
discrimination, bad working conditions, domestic violence)
- we live in a “risk society” (Ulrich Beck) – which we are always in danger of
harm from sources that are often hidden from view + beyond human control
-> this is often the result of “progress”
- sociologists aim to bring these problems to people’s conscious attention
- many are unaware of the risks surrounding them as they have been
disciplined to view the harmful as safe, the inhumane and dangerous as
normal aka “governmentality” (Michel Foucault)
-> where secret but effective regulation ensure the abiding of rules,
those in power
- social science = poor @ solving human problems; not much changed - mostly
due to complexity of the roots of the social problems + powerful to address
- Aim: use knowledge to improve social life by understanding roots, health
consequences, + how to address them
- Max Weber (1/3 founder of sociology) saw it coming: elites only serve what’s
in their interest, not common good
How this Book is Organized
- 3 sociological theories: 1) structural functionalism, 2) conflict theory, and 3)
symbolic interactionism
- Important perspectives: 1) feminism (both analysis + solutions from liberal
to radical points of view) and 2) social constructionism (an outgrowth of
symbolic interactionism that posits that groups of people create + recreate
their own realities)
- Population health perspective focuses on the physical + psychological harm
caused; emphasizes social sources and consequences of people’s