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social problem

3 Pages

Course Code
Sociology 2105A/B

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A social problem is a condition that undermines the well-being of some or all members of a society and that is usually a matter of public controversy. • Because any issue affects various segments of our population differently, almost nothing is harmful to everyone (e.g., governmental regulation of pollution is a problem to certain business owners, but pollution itself is a problem faced by others) Subjective and Objective Understandings of Social Problems • The subjective thesis asserts that social problems exist only insofar as people are aware of them. • The objective thesis states that the existence of social problems depends on facts, not public awareness. • The reality of a social problem is partly a matter of objective facts and partly a matter of how individuals subjectively interpret these facts. Social Movements • One indication that people recognize an issue as a social problem is the formation of a social movement, an organized effort to encourage or discourage some dimension of social change. • Typically, social movements pass through four distinct stages: 1) Emergence – people define a situation as problematic and establish an organization to address it 2) Coalescence – the coming together of a movement, which occurs as the new organization begins to mobilize resources (e.g., money, media attention, public involvement) and starts demonstrating, and political lobbying 3) Formalization – the social movement becomes established, relying less on the personal skills of early leaders and more on the efforts of a bureaucratic staff 4) Decline – many social movements eventually decline, either due to success or failure Important Considerations about Social Problems 1) Social problems result from how society operates, and are not caused by bad people 2) Social problems are not abnormal; instead, they are structural in nature (i.e., built into a way of life). In some cases, what is considered a problem may actually help society to operate. 3) Solving social problems requires change. 4) People see problems differently. What is viewed as a problem to some people may not be seen as a problem to others. 5) Many, but not all, problems can be solved 6) Definitions of problems change over time 7) Problems involve values as well as facts 8) Various social problems are related 9) Solving one problem can create a new problem Sociological Perspectives 1) The Structural-Functional Paradigm - Structural-functionalism views society as a complex system of interrelated parts that work together to maintain social order and stability - Sociologists use th
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