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SOCI 100 (54)

Social Problems

3 Pages

Course Code
SOCI 100
Debra Pentecost

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Social Problems 01-02-2012 Course Reader: An Introduction to the Sociology of Social Problems  Social problems – subdiscipline of sociology  Must suspend moral beliefs and value judgments to have a more objective understanding of social problems  Social problem – phenomenon regarded as bad or undesirable by a significant number of people or a number of significant people who mobilize to eliminate it Example: Crime  If you go into researching crime is bad, it is easy to miss the positive that comes out of it.  Provides millions of jobs at the local, provincial and federal level  Criminal justice and private security  Plays an essential role in uniting a society against common enemies  Establishes moral boundaries of a community  Organized crime – historically, it has provided ethnic minorities with a ladder to the middle class o Acquired wealth  established legitimate businesses Concept of Social Structure  Individuals  Groups  Institutions  Relationships between these three make up the social structure  Presumed: there are rules governing these relationships o Sociology – study of these rules o Sociological theory – attempt to describe those rules  Social movement organization – group of people that are significant in size or significant in composition  A phenomenon only becomes a social problem because of external factors: social structure + social movement organization The Social Problems Perspectives  Objectivity of sociologist  Sociologist doesn’t call it a social problem because he/she thinks it’s bad, but because the social movement organization thinks is bad Drawbacks  Objectivity is an impossible goals  Subject to the same rules of society that we are trying to study  Social problems perspective: device that enables us some degree of objectivity  “Significant” number of people or number of “significant” people: significant – value judgment Advantages  It is not the objective harm done by a phenomenon that makes it a “social problem”  It is the activities of parties external to it that give it the status of a social problem  Critical Constructionism o Why does a seemingly harmful phenomenon that has been around for a long time suddenly have such attention and importance? Why all of a sudden? o Why are some seemingly harmful phenomena considered social problems while some others are not? Why this and not that? Review: Conflict Theory  Modern conflict theory: struggle between different social classes/interest groups – rich/poor, black/white, men/women  Mostly concerned with inequality and the use and abuse of power o Social justice  Primacy given to the value of equality – so objectivity is usually suspended  Power – ability to influence social structure (usually held by the elite who use it to enhance their power)  Abilit
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