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Chapter 1

Chapter 1 notes of Social Problems book.

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University of Toronto St. George

Chapter 1 What are Social Problems? Social problem: a social condition or pattern of behaviour that is believed to warrant public concern and collective action Sociology is about social change, social conflict, and social cohesion Objective and subjective elements Objective elements are the measurable features of a negative social condition. Such a condition might include crime, poverty, or alcohol abuse and can be considered an objective reality o Systematic measurements show that the condition exists and that it harms people o Can study its causes and effects without making a moral judgment and without judging it as serious or trivial o Can study changes in social life that cause the numbers or rates of these events to increase and decrease o This activity is based on philosophical premise, aka positivism, of a material reality we can perceive with our sense o To find and test natural laws about these subjective beliefs and their consequences which is usually hard to measure; so theories are developed Subjective elements: peoples evaluations of objective conditions and the processes that influence their evaluations. They include moral labels that people apply to particular acts or situations, and the accounts they give for these acts and situations o Reflect peoples beliefs and tastes o Eg. Believe that smoking marijuana is evil then this belief is an aspect of social realities o subjective aspects affect and reflect our emotional reactions to information we receive about the world o Our subjective or emotional responses often lead to what we call the social construction of social problems Claims making a process by which people try to capture attention and mobilize public opinion around particular problems and their solutions Social Problems and the Sociological Imagination Sociological imagination: a term used by sociologist C. Wright Mills in his 1959 book, The Sociological Imagination, that describes the sociologists ability to connect seemingly impersonal and remote historical forces to the most basic incidents of an individuals life. The sociological imagination enables people to distinguish between personal troubles and public issues o Eg. Unemployment due to economic recession, corporate downsizing, and advances in technology that replace people with machines Microsociology, or micro-level analysis, focuses on the interactions between individuals in small groups o Studies peoples understanding and experience of social problems at the local, personal level Macrosociology, or macro-level analysis, focuses on the societal level o Explores the ways that social trends occurring within major bureaucratic organizations and social institutions affect the population as a whole Social Problems Research as a Moral Enterprise Sociology is an engaged, progressive and optimistic discipline founded on the notion that we can improve society through research and the application of research-based knowledge Many so research aimed directly at reducing poverty, violence, injustice, and inequality Modernization itself and its associated features leave primary problems unresolved and they fail to ensure that we preserve a decent quality of life (homelessness, discrimination, recurrent warfare, mass deaths, genocide) www.notesolution.com
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