Empirical strategies for looking at whatever social problem you’re looking at
Contrast the objectivist and constructionist 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 detriment to society
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 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
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
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
“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
Attempts to define and alter social problems
Moral entrepreneurs (people who are trying to sell their idea to society)
Sociologists should analyze it as such
are they individuals or groups?
Powerful or grass root movements?
Victims or spokespeople?
Media as claimsmakers?
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