Chapter 1: Social Problems
What is it all about?
It is a social condition. We are studying patterns of behaviours that people believe warrants public
concern. Brings about collective action for change. Ex. Speeding was an issue, looked into it assigned
tickets. Didn’t change, so now its if you’re caught speeding 50 over your license gets taken away.
- How does pattern of behaviour such as a violence get defined as a social problem...harm a
number of people, or when individuals are seen as harmful. It is defined when its identified by a
number of people – this person might not be present a proper way and there might be a
- Social problems are examined primarily through the focus of society. Some social problems like
violence and crime are commonly viewed to affect all members of the community.
- Some social problems are viewed to affect all members of society
Other social problems: sexual harassment, racial discrimination are viewed to affect only some members
of society. Who are we focussing on for these issues?
- Significant discrepancies between the ideal of societies and their actual achievement.
o Ex: discrimination heightens existing in equality. It might be directed towards
subordinates, or different religions, or any other characteristics
Informs violence (hate crimes)
Why study social problems?
- it helps us understand the social forces that are out there that shape our lives for better or worse
- what are the forces that we’re up against from personal and societal
- we learn to take a sociological approach rather then a common sense approach (nonsense). What
everyone knows is usually false. Many common sense notions are myths.
- when we examines these issues from soc. Perspectives it allows us to learn more about ourselves. See
a different perspective. Allows us to gain new insights, and connections of our own world and other
-global perspectives that the lives of people are closely intertwined. Any nations problems are part of a
larger global problem.
C.W. Mills (1916-1962)
The sociological Imagination using it? He wrote this book. Mills is important to us in Sociology.
According to his book the ability to see the relationship between individual experiences and our larger
social world—the personal is political. What we experience personally we are often experiencing that all
- When we use our imagination we are connecting our personal problems as public issues. Ex; a
victim of abuse of home and you go to work and there are bruises. What does the individual you
are working with sees them. Maybe talk to them or take it to management.
The American Situation
- When you look at social facts – US ranks first in military technology when compared to other
industrial countries. – looking at cost that’s not good if you’re looking at protecting a country
that’s good. They’re also first at exporting for the army
- Its the first in GDP- producing products in their immediate market place
- First in the number of millionaires and billionaires. - First in health technology
- First in defense expenditures
When we look more focused US is 10 in gr 8 science
11 in proportion of children in poverty.
16 in living standards amongst of the poorest 1/5 of children – living in challenge
17 in low birth weight rates. – birth weight determines whether you live or die or have health
21 in gr 8 math scores
23 in infant mortality
Last in protecting their children against gun violence.
When we look at the US highly industrialised and income nation. Amongst all nations it is number 1
in cocaine and heroin use.
US is less then 5% of the worlds population But uses ¼ of the world’s resources.
US is the largest contributor to global warming through use of petroleum products
Barometer of Social Problems
- We find collectively that the