01.09 Lecture- Thinking About Social Problems like a Sociologist.docx

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Daniel Herda

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01/10/2014 Social problems definition… An alleged situation: someone has to say that “this” (whatever it is) is happening, it’s true Whatever it is that’s happening has to not jive w/ people’s values, it has to be threatening to these values it has to affect a significant number of people this “thing” that is happening that doesn’t fit within our values must be changed! Social Problems An alleged situation Someone must claim that a condition of pattern of behavior is occurring Who is someone? –claims makers Individuals Groups (sometimes group that form around claiming that a social problem exists) Ex: green party for environmentalism, know-nothing party saw immigration as a problem Media Claims do not require an objective basis Sometimes there is a bit of subjectivity to it What matters is that people are making these allegations and that people believe them Ex: tampering w/ candy on Halloween Incompatible with values When its incompatible w/ people’s values, that’s when it starts to matter Values –shared judgments about right and wrong, good and bad, desirable and undesirable American values No values shared by all Disagreement on what is a social problem Always will be some disagreement, never a single consensus It’s NOT clear-cut! Ex: homosexual marriage, gun laws A significant number of people How many? –no real answer to that question; it’s ambiguous, but it’s a lot of people Whom? –the better question Vulnerable populations (ex: children w/ violence, video games, nudity in media, etc.) Powerful individuals (if they are offended, they are able to make it a problem because of their status) Powerful groups Disadvantaged social categories (such as racial groups) Action is needed Belief that something should be done Action could take place in a lot of different forms Such as…social movements Ex: Occupy Wall Street Sociological Imagination Unique perspective for understanding human behavior Ability to connect personal troubles w/ public issues Individuals to the social structure Biography to history Tool to analyze social problems Allows the user to understand the circumstnaces of an individual through: Personal choices, abilities, etc. The social structure in which one exists Social Problems vs. Personal Troubles Personal Trouble—explainable in terms of individual factors “the personal troubles of milieu” things beyond the individual; things that the individual has no choice/ hand in setting up Public issue (social problem)—caused, facilitated and prolonged by social factors “the public issues of social structure” Sociology emphasizes social/ structural explanations Different understandings and different solutions Ex: Personal trouble: a married couple files for divorce (individual case) Incompatible personalities (individual explanations…) Flawed relationship Irreconcilable differences Social Problem: a majority of marriages end in divorce Changing norms related to marriage? Is marriage more accessible today than it was before? Problems w/ the institution? Ex: Personal trouble: Steve can’t find a job (individual case) Not trying hard enough? (individual explanations…) Unqualified? Prefers to be off of public assistance? (doesn’t want to get a job) Social Problem: Unemployment Economic recession? (social trend w/ thousands of cases) Economic restru
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