The Study of Social Problems
What is a Social Problem?
Objective Elements of Social Problems
Subjective Elements of Social Problems
What is a Social Problem?
The Social Context of Social Problems
Types of Social Norms
Social Institutions
Elements of Culture
Elements of Culture
Theoretical Approaches on Social Problems
The Functionalist Perspective
The Conflict Perspective
Conflict Theories of Social Problems
Marxist Conflict Theories
Non-Marxist Conflict Theories
The Interactionist Perspective
Research on Social Problems
Stages of Conducting a Research Study
Four Types of Sociological Research
Assessing Data
Future Prospects
Who Provides Solutions?
Should we solve the problems?
International Perspectives
Категория: СоциологияСоциология

The Study of Social Problems

1. The Study of Social Problems

Follow: Mooney, L. A. 2013.
Understanding social problems
Sullivan, Th. 2011. Introduction to
Social Problems

2. What is a Social Problem?

C. Wright Mills distinguished between personal
troubles and public issues
Personal troubles
are things that
affect individuals
and their immediate
Public issues
have an impact
on large numbers
of people
and are matters
of public debate

3. Objective Elements of Social Problems

Awareness of social conditions through life
experiences and through reports in the
– We see the homeless, hear gunfire in the
streets, and see battered women in
hospital emergency rooms.
– We read about employees losing their jobs
as businesses downsize and factories

4. Subjective Elements of Social Problems

The belief that a particular social condition is
harmful to society or to a segment of society
and that it should and can be changed.
We know crime, drug addiction, poverty,
racism, violence, and pollution exist.
– These are not considered social problems
unless a segment of society believes
these conditions diminish the quality of
human life.

5. What is a Social Problem?

A social problem exists:

when an influential group defines a social
condition as threatening its values
when a condition affects a large number of
and when the condition can be remedied by
collective action

6. The Social Context of Social Problems

Social conditions that can lead to the emergence
of social problems

Deviation from group values & norms
A decline in the effectiveness of social institutions
Extensive social & cultural diversity
The exercise of power

7. Types of Social Norms

Folkways - customs and manners of society.
Laws - formal norms backed by authority.
Mores - norms with a moral basis.
Situational – norms that change according to a
given situation.

8. Social Institutions

An institution is an established and enduring
pattern of social relationships.
The five traditional institutions are:


9. Culture

Culture is defined as the meanings and ways
of life that characterize a society including
beliefs, values, norms, sanctions, and

10. Elements of Culture

Beliefs are definitions and explanations
about what is assumed to be true.
Values are social agreements about what is
considered good and bad, right and wrong,
desirable and undesirable.

11. Elements of Culture

– Socially defined rules of behavior.
– Consequences for conforming to or
violating norms.
– Language, gestures, and objects whose
meaning is commonly understood by the
members of a society.

12. Theoretical Approaches on Social Problems

A theoretical perspective provides some
fundamental assumptions about the nature and
operation of society.

Macrosociological perspectives focus on large
groups, social institutions and society as a whole.
Microsociological perspectives focus on the intimate
level of everyday interactions between people.

13. The Functionalist Perspective

Society is a system that is made up of a number
of interrelated elements, each performing a
function that contributes to the operation of the

Robert K. Merton distinguished between manifest
functions, latent functions, and dysfunctions.

14. The Conflict Perspective

Society consists of different groups who
struggle with one another to attain the scarce
societal resources that are considered
valuable, be they money, power, prestige, or
the authority to impose one’s values on

Karl Marx provided the framework based on the
class struggle between the bourgeoisie and the

15. Conflict Theories of Social Problems

There are two general types of conflict
theories of social problems:

Marxist theories focus on social conflict that
results from economic inequalities.

Non-Marxist theories focus on social conflict that
results from competing values and interests
among social groups.

16. Marxist Conflict Theories

According to Marxist theorists, social
problems result from class inequality inherent
in a capitalistic system.
Marxist conflict theories also focus on the
problem of alienation.
Conflict can create positive change

17. Non-Marxist Conflict Theories

Concerned with conflict that arises when
groups have opposing values and interests.
– These value positions reflect different
subjective interpretations of what
constitutes a social problem.

Ultimately, conflict is, and always will be,

18. The Interactionist Perspective

Interactionism focuses on everyday social
interaction among individuals rather than on
large scale societal structures.

William and Dorothy Thomas stated that “If people
define situations as real, they are real in their
The definition of the situation refers to people’s
perceptions and interpretations of what is important
in a situation and what actions are appropriate.


20. Research on Social Problems

Science is a method of obtaining objective
and systematic knowledge through

Hypotheses are tentative statements that can be
tested regarding relationships between two or
more factors, and that act as links between theory
and research.

21. Stages of Conducting a Research Study

Formulating a research question.
Reviewing the literature.
Defining variables.
Formulating a hypothesis.
Design research method
Collect and analyze data
Form conclusion and publish results

22. Variable

Any measurable event, characteristic, or
property that varies or is subject to change.
Researchers must operationally define the
variables they study.
– An operational definition specifies how a
variable is to be measured.
Operational definitions are particularly
important for defining variables that cannot
be directly observed.

23. Hypothesis

A prediction about how one variable is
related to another variable.
The dependent variable is the variable that
the researcher wants to explain.
The independent variable is the variable that
is expected to explain change in the
dependent variable.

24. Four Types of Sociological Research

Direct observation
– The social scientist sees or hears something him
or herself
– People are asked questions
Archival research
– Information collected by some other agency for
reasons other than research
– Controlled methods of collecting evidence

25. Assessing Data

Sampling problems

Upon whom or what were the observations made?
Samples should be representative.
The three criteria to establish causality

Observe associations or correlations
Ensure time sequence
Avoid spurious relationships

26. Future Prospects

Solutions to social problems can fall into
one of the following categories.

Social reform
Alleviating consequences

27. Who Provides Solutions?

“Collective action” means that people work
together toward a solution.

A social movement is a collective, organized
effort to promote or resist social change through
some noninstitutionalized or unconventional


29. Should we solve the problems?

Can we accept the costs of the solution?
Does a solution to one problem create yet
other problems?
Is a particular solution feasible?

30. International Perspectives

Reasons to look at other societies and cultures

Because we can gain additional insight into
problems and their solutions when we observe
different cultures
Because nations today are intertwined in a complex
relationship in which we all depend on one another
Because some social problems are inherently global
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