01.14 Lecture- Objectivist vs. Constructionist, Creating a Social Problem.docx

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University of California - Davis
Daniel Herda

01/15/2014 Empirical strategies for looking at whatever social problem you’re looking at Contrast the objectivist and constructionist approach OBJECTIVIST APPROACH Focus on the objective reality of social problems Treating social problems as if they are real Look at social problems as being real phenomena, real victims, real people being affected Real phenomena Real Victims Real detriment to society Ex: Crime It is real—many people we know have been victims to crime, real people being affected (injured physically, emotionally, psychologically), can damage the overall well-being of society (can affect your choices, decisions, behavior)  real, tangible, measurable Objectivists often focus on examining harmful conditions: How much? (How much crime is out there? How many instances?) Who is affected? What are the consequences (what does it mean for society and people who are living in it?) What are the causes? What should be done? (How can it be fixed?) Often, objectivists lenses are influenced by functionalist and conflict perspective lenses In order maintain society, we must solve these problems Conflict perspective may try to improve conditions of people who are subordinated by those situations Social Pathology Social Justice Advocates and Activists Our ideas about how much risk we have are kind of independent on how much risk there actually is… Worry does not necessarily correspond to objective conditions CONSTRUCTIONIST APPROACH Recall our definition… An alleged situation that is incompatible with the values of a significant number of people who agree that action is needed to alter the situation Constructionism answers such questions: How do social problems become social problems? Social construction of social problems Sociological approach Individuals and society are coming together, coming up w/ truths, shared things that they’re agreeing on Focus on the subjective aspects of social problems Objective realty is less important Social construction: phenomena defined as real by society Significance because we give them significance Not objective, God-given or natural Collectively agreed upon Become “reality” “If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences.” –Thomas and Thomas (1928) famous quote from a symbolic interactionist Specter and Kituse (1987) –often credited for introducing the constructionist approach Social problems develop from claimsmaking (demands made by one party to another that something should be done about some putative condition) activities Claimsmaking.. Attempts to define and alter social problems Moral entrepreneurs (people who are trying to sell their idea to society) A process Sociologists should analyze it as such Consider the… 1. Claimsmakers are they individuals or groups? Powerful or grass root movements? Victims or spokespeople? Media as claimsmakers? Motivations? Do claimsmakers stand to gain constructing something as a social problem? Are their counter-claimants? Defense of alleged situation 2. Rhetoric used in claimsmaking What kind of language and strategies do claimsmakers use? Loseke (1999) “How do Successfully Construct a Social Problem” Ideal type analysis Successful claimsmaking strategies “Difference within Sameness” –new spin on a familiar social problems reframing the same problem with a twist
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