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Feb 2

by: Andy Lin
Andy Lin

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About this Document

Medical experts as claimsmakers
Social Problems
Steven Boutcher
Class Notes
25 ?




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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by Andy Lin on Friday February 12, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Sociology 103 at University of Massachusetts taught by Steven Boutcher in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 25 views. For similar materials see Social Problems in Sociology at University of Massachusetts.

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Date Created: 02/12/16
Medicalization: Some Consequences      Individuals given medical diagnoses are perceived as less responsible for their actions      Issues are constructed as individual troubles and often overlooks the role of broader  social structural causes      The medical model frame cedes ownership of these problems to physicians and medical  organizations      The frame has been successful Scientific Expertise      The language of science o  Science refers to a way of understanding the world o  Initially applied to the natural world(now includes the social world) o  A social construction in itself   Just one way for us to make sense of the world      The scientific method o  Based on the analysis of evidence(data) o  Develop testable/falsifiable hypotheses o  Transparent o  Re­testable o  Even this is constructed in different ways as more or less legitimate   Ex: the witch hunts Scientific Expertise   Findings become accepted(or not) over time, as other scientists repeat studies and more  data is accumulated o  Science is a profession that involves slow progress( when progress happens) o  Media often want quick and newsworthy results and so often highlight one study in isolation,  ignoring the fact that study needs to be replicated and its results need to be understood in light of all  earlier studies on the same topic or closely related topics. Experts as Claimsmakers   Science isn’t perfect   Constraints with science o  Research or findings can be flawed o  Science is SLOW o  Science is cumulative o  Better data can always come around o  New findings are built off of already existing findings o  Science can often be contradictory Expert Knowledge   Expert knowledge often assumed to be objective and impartial, but o  It is imperfect, as good as—or as bad as—the expert who creates and interprets the data o  It can be shaped by ideological and/or disciplinary commitments o  It may be constructed and interpreted in ways as to keep funding agencies happy Experts as Claimsmakers   Consequences o  Science is hardly ever definitive o  Presents a problem for making concise/clear claims o  But how do we decide which conclusions/findings are better? Public Officials as Expert Claimsmakers   Officials are also often thought of as expert claimsmakers o  Agency officials o  Government officials   Often rely on science/facts to make claims   Get more attention due to their insider status   Often have substantial resources, especially for data collection   Seek to become owners of a particular social problem, for similar reasons that other  claimsmakers do o  Turf battles often occur between agencies and claimsmaking is one weapon with which to fight  opponents   They may have instrumental reasons for claimsmaking o  Increased power in government bureaucracy, especially if can acquire social problems  ownerships o  Greater chance of budgetary increases if one’s agency’s claims are in the media   Often are insider claimsmakers, deeply involved in policymaking   Sometimes experts aren’t focusing on an area that other claimsmakers think is important   Activists often push for experts to start paying attention Consequences of Expertise   Findings often too technical for a general audience o  Pressure for “user friendly” language   If audiences expect too much of experts, then expertise shifts to showing the limits of  technical knowledge o  And how a possible solution involves more variables than just expert knowledge Activists/Social Movements as Claimsmakers   What is a social movement? o  Collective and sustained efforts that challenge existing or potential laws, policies, norms, or  authorities, making use of extra institutional as well as institutional political tactics.   Key Characteristics o  Collective: more than one person o  Sustained: more than just one event o  Challenge authorities: movements focus on changing something(or resisting change) o  Tactics: Movements rely on a variety of strategies to achieve their goals(both inside and outside of govt) Social Movements   Some misconceptions o  Movements are not a singular thing, rather are a loose coalition of different groups o  The boundaries that make up a social movement are blurry   Who’s included and who isn’t? o  The goals and claims of a movement are under constant challenge by activists inside of the  movement Social Movements as Political Participation   Movements are different than other types of political participation(namely electoral politics) o  Requires more energy o  Elections focus on candidates; movements focus on issues/demands o  Numbers are not enough for social movements(size doesn’t always matter) o  Movements focus on marginalized populations o  Movements include outsider tactics(extrainstitutional) Types of Activist Claimsmakers   Outsiders: they operate externally to sources of power in the society o  Have to work hard as claimsmakers to get and maintain attention of others   Insiders: already near to sources of power o  Easier to conduct claimsmaking without as much attention   Social Movement Organizations o  Social movement organizations are smaller groups, more narrowly focused than the large­scale  cause o  Social movements endorse social change, which often provokes counter movements to resist  change Sociological ways of studying social movements   Three major theories to explain social movements o  Framing o  Resource Mobilization o  Political Opportunity structures Framing   Framing: the process of shaping how we “make sense” of an issue o  Diagnostic frames   Discuss the nature of the troubling conditions o  Motivational frames   Why individuals should care o  Prognostic frames   What needs to be done   Frame alignment: ways activists adjust their frames to the way those they want to recruit  thing about the world o  Frame Bridging: reaching out to those who support similar causes to establish links between  frames and movements o  Frame Amplification: using values to rally the involvement of others o  Frame Extension: stretching a frame to include what likely recruits may believe o  Frame Transformation: asking recruits to stop seeing the world in their normal manner and see it  differently


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