Thursday, September 13, 2012
Lecture # 2 – Social Problems and Sociological Theory
SOCI 1010: Sociology
Chapter 1 Outline:
- What is a Social Problem?
o A social condition where a segment of society deems to be significantly harmful. There is no
universal constant or absolute true definition of a social problem. A social problem is rather
defined through various objective and subjective criteria varying from individuals across
society and historical time periods.
o Such social conditions could include class discrepancy, racial/ethnic issues, environmental
issues, poverty, gun control, problems in gender and sexuality, etc.
o Objective criteria (awareness of social conditions through one’s own life experience and
through reports in the media) and subjective criteria (the belief that a particular social
condition is harmful to society, or to a segment of society, and that it should and can be
o Both objective criteria and subjective criteria need to come together for a social problem to
o Social problems diminish the quality of life.
o Small personal problems can become social problems depending on the time period, the
problem, and the momentum behind it.
- Elements of Social Structure and Culture
o Some sociologists believe that structure of society is one that functions as an integrated
whole. That they all come together to function as a corrective entity, but where there are
imbalances in this structure it leads to social pathologies or social dysfunction.
- The Sociological Imagination C. Wright Mills (1959)
o The ability to see the connection between personal life and social structure.
- Theoretical Perspectives
Paradigm: Definition: Main Level Main Focus: Main Image of
of Analysis: Question: Ideal Society:
Structural Considers Macro Values How do the A state of
Functionalism that human institutions of equilibrium.
behavior is society
governed by contribute to
stable forms social stability
stability. Conflict Suggests that Macro Class How do The
Theory human inequality privileged elimination of
behavior in groups seek to privilege,
social maintain their especially
contexts advantages class