Reading for Week 1. Book: Social Problems, Chapter: 1
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Chapter 1: What are social problems?
Social problem: a social condition or pattern of behaviour that is believed to warrant public
concern and collection action.
Struggles everywhere over issues and inequalities. Social rallies don’t merely represent identities
and personal interests; these are efforts to change broader social political and economic
relationships. The terrain is full with actor and activists trying to influence our views and
Sociology forces us to make connections among problems in seeking answer to the problems
faced by Canadians.
Sociology and the study of social problems.
Early sociology was the study of S.Ps
About social changes, conflict and cohesion.
Rise of sociology came with the rise of modern societies; and with the idea of ‘progress’,
progress meant the possibility of social improvement or social amelioration. They believed social
life could be imporoved by studying social issues, social research as diagnosing social problems
and for inventing and evaluating solutions. Social conflict could be resolved in just ways.
We want to take part in a struggle against theses social problems.
Objective and Subjective Elements
Objective Elements: measureable features of a negative social condition. Systematic
measurements show that the condition exists and that it harms ppl. Statistics about crime, sexual
abuse, pollution, poverty.we can count and measure their incidence. Do not reach a conclusion;
Subjective Elements: people’s evaluations of objective conditions and the processses tha
influence their evaluations. Moral labels; wrong, inmoral, sick. Moral or aesthetic judgements
reflects people’s beliefs and tastes. The subjective aspects of social problems affect and reflect
our emotional reactions to information(OE) we receive about the world.
Sociologist, by bringing together the objective and subjective elements, we can define a social
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Social problems and the Sociological Imagination
The Sociological Imagination is about making or finding connections between the conditions of
our personal lives and the larger social context in which we live. Connections between ones own
life (microevents) , the social world (macroevents), and between personal/private troubles and
Two levels, Microsociology (microlevel analysis) ppl’s understanding and experience of social
problems at the local/personal level. Macrosociology (macrolevel analysis) social trends
occurring withing major bureaucratic organization and social instutions. Both levels are
Three kinds of approaches to the study of youth homelessness:
(1)(OBJECTIVE) Purely objective, positivistic approach; state facts, statistics, devise
explanations and theories
(2)Ask personal accounts of their homelessness, analyze and compare their stories
(3)(SUBJECTIVE) Ask the publics, why is it a major social issues, this is subjectivist or
Social problems research as a moral enterprise
Sociology exists to make the world a better place, improve society. Sociologists do research
aimed directly at reducing poverty, violence, injustice and inequality, etc.
Human efforts to make society better go awry and backfire, modernization, free market system,
etc don’t address any issues and even fail to keep an stable quality of life. Modernization carries
heavy costs for society and the environment. Sociologists think of themselves as engaged in
moral enterprise to improve human societies.
There are seven areas which are usually the focus of research, yet we fail to address them, social
problems literature aims to change society, protect the vulnerable and redress injustice.
Often, (the media) turn s public issues into private issues. Fail to acknowledge that because it
happens to so many ppl there must be ‘something in the water’, rather there must be something
wrong with only certain individuals. Sociologists identify factors that increase the chance of
problems, study these problems and prevent them, control them at their source
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