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Chapter 1 - Thinking about Social Problems

by: Jazlin Perez

Chapter 1 - Thinking about Social Problems ASOC180

Marketplace > SUNY Albany > Sociology > ASOC180 > Chapter 1 Thinking about Social Problems
Jazlin Perez


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Chapter 1 - Thinking about Social Problems Pages 3 -26 Book: Understanding Social Problems, 10th Edition Authors: Linda A. Mooney, Ph.D.; David Knox, Ph.D.; Caroline Schacht, M.A. ISBN-10: 1...
Social Problems
Shanza Malik
Class Notes
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This 7 page Class Notes was uploaded by Jazlin Perez on Sunday October 16, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to ASOC180 at SUNY Albany taught by Shanza Malik in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 5 views. For similar materials see Social Problems in Sociology at SUNY Albany.


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Date Created: 10/16/16
Chapter 1 – Thinking about Social Problems: ( PAGES 3-26 ) After economic turndown 08’ – US Congress pass American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 09’ o Stimulus Package – help failing industries, create jobs, promote consumer spending, rescue failed housing market, encourage energy-related investments o Distribution of funds - $840 billion+  Globalization requires understanding of interrelationship b/w countries & regions around the world  Social problems clearly global in nature – other impact nature when occurred  National and international concerns: (present threat & challenge to national & global society) o Poverty o Inadequate education o Crime & violence o Oppression of minorities o Environmental destruction o War & terrorism  Purpose of topic: how social problems created, maintained, & affect everyone/thing, examine programs & policies for change What Is a Social Problem?  Definition – combination of objective & subjective criteria varies across societies, individuals & groups w/in society, historical time periods, geographic regions  Social condition that segment of society views as harmful to members of society and need of remedy  Two important elements: o Objective social condition - awareness of social conditions through one’s own life experiences and through reports in the media o Subjective interpretation of social condition - belief that particular social condition is harmful to society, or to a segment of society, and that it should and can be changed  Become aware of social conditions – life experience, media, education  Constitutes social problem – varies by historical time period  Social problems change over time bc: def. of conditions change & conditions themselves change  Using sociological perspectives to examine social problems req. knowledge of basic concepts & tools of sociology Elements of Social Structure and Culture o Structure - way society is organized including institutions, social groups, statuses, and roles o Institution (made up of social groups) - established and enduring pattern of social relationships  5 traditional institutions: 1. religion – religious structure (guideline) 2. family – close friends, blood relatives, work/school friends 3. education – learn from elders 4. government – need some system of order 5. economics - $  Sociologist argue other social institutions play important role in modern society 1. Science & Technology 2. Mass media 3. Medicine 4. Sports 5. The military  Social problems generated by inadequacies in various institutions  Ex: unemployment – failure to prepare people for job market & alters economy o Social group - 2 or more ppl having same identify, interact, form social relationship  Social groups categorized as: primary / secondary o Primary groups - usually small #s of individuals characterized by intimate and informal interaction  Ex: close family & friends, roommate – informal relationship w/ o Secondary groups - involving small or large numbers of individual, groups that are task oriented and are characterized by impersonal and formal interaction  Ex: employers, customers, employees, clerks o Statuses (Social groups consist of and define social identity) - a position that a person occupies within a social group  Statuses categorized as: ascribed / achieved o Ascribed status – status that society assigns to an individual on the basis of factors over which the individual has no control o Achieved status – status that is assigned on the basis of some characteristics or behavior over which the individual has some control  Ex: graduated college students  One’s ascribed statuses may affect likelihood of achieving other statuses  Every status associated w/ many roles o Roles – set of rights, obligations, expectation associated w/ status guide our behaviors, allows to predict behavior of others  Single status involves 1+ roles  Elements of Culture: o Culture – meanings and ways of life that characterize a society, including beliefs, values, norms, sanctions, and symbols o Beliefs – definitions and explanations about what is assumed to be true 2  Belief influence how social condition interpreted & existence of condition itself o Values – social agreements about what is considered good and bad, right and wrong, desirable and undesirable  Values play important role in interpretation of condition as social problem & in development of social condition o Norms – socially defined rules of behavior, guidelines for behavior and expectations of others  Three types of norm: 1. Folkway – (tradition) refer to customs, habits, manners of society 2. Laws – formalized & backed by political authority 3. Mores – rules based on moral basis  Norms associated w/: sanctions o Sanctions – social consequences (not just (–) idea), for conforming to or violating norms 1. Formal - 2. Formal (Pos.) – receiving award 3. Formal (Neg.) – Broke law, get a ticket 4. Informal – not flipping ppl off, thumbs down – ppl constantly striving for social acceptance 5. Informal (Pos.) – did something good and get complimented 6. Informal (Neg.) – greater impact on people (psychological)  When conforming to a social norm we are rewarded w/ + sanction o Symbol – something that represents something else  W/o symbols – could not communicate w/ ppl / live as social beings  Elements of social structure & culture play central role in creation, maintenance, social responses to social problems The Sociological Imagination o Sociological imagination – ability to see connections between personal lives and social world in which we live “put yourself in someone else’s shoes”  Distinguish b/w “private troubles” & “public issues”, see connections b/w events & conditions of lives, social & historical context of place Theoretical Perspectives  Theories in sociology provide diff. perspectives to view social world o Theory – set of interrelated propositions or principles designed to answer a question or explain a particular phenomenon  Sociological theories help explain & predict social world we live in  3 main major theoretical perspectives: 1. Structural-functionalist perspective – interconnectedness of society focused on how each part influences & influenced by other parts 3 2. Conflict perspective – views society as composed of groups and interest competing for power and resources  Explains various aspects of our social world by looking at which groups have power and benefit from a particular social arrangement 3. Symbolic interactionist perspective – a condition must be defined or recognized as a social problem for it to be a social problem (Plan of action to change issue)  Blumer’s stages of a social problem  Labeling theory – label as a social problem then it’s a problem. How we interact w/ one another  Social construction – create relationship – focuses on meanings of things and our interaction  Elements of society functional if contribute to social stability & dysfunctional if disrupt social stability o Manifest functions – consequences intended & commonly recognized  Ex: go to college – get a degree – pursue a career o Latent functions – provide you w/ social setting o Social pathology – social problems results from “sickness” in society o Social disorganization – rapid social change disrupts norms in society  To prevent/solve social problems members of society must receive proper socialization & moral education o Anomie – state of normlessness in which norms and values are weak or unclear  Conflict perspective view society – composed of diff. groups/interests competing for power and resources  Explains aspects of social world – which group has power & benefit from social arrangement  Karl Marx suggested all societies go through stages of economic development  Two general types of conflict theories of social problem: o Marxist – social conflicts results from economic inequalities  How you turn your workers into drones o Non-Marxist – social conflicts results from competing values & interests among social groups (not about $)  Two groups that might be equal but differ in their view points  Democrats vs. Republican  Strongest back wins o Bourgeoisies – wealth, white collars, take home most of the $ o Proletariat – middle class blue collar  Marxist social problem imply solution lies in eliminating inequality among classes of people – creating classless society  Marxist conflict theories focus on problem of alienation o Alienation – a sense of powerlessness and meaninglessness in people’s lives  Blumer’s Stages of a Social Problem: (3 symbolic interactionist theories of social problem) 1. Societal Recognition – when a social problem is “born” – tragic incident 4 2. Social legitimation – takes place when social problem achieves recognition by large community – everyone everywhere in the community decides its an issue to address 3. Mobilization for action – individuals & groups concerned w/ how to respond to social condition – community together to find help and reduce it Social Problems Research  4 stages in conducting research on a social problem 1. Formulating a research question – develop question from interest/personal value 2. Reviewing the literature – ideas conducting their research / helping formulate new research questions 3. Defining variables – researchers must operationally define variables they study: defining variables that can’t be directly observed 4. Formulating a hypothesis Understanding Social Problems  Sociologists studying social problems since Industrial Revolution – brought big social change  Social problems more widespread – need to understand origins & possible solutions more urgent 5 Chapter Review / T est Yourself: CHAPTER 1  What is a Social Problem? o Social problems defined by combination of objective (existence of social condition) & subjective criteria (belief social condition harmful to society / segment of society that should & can change) o A social problem is a social condition that segment of society views as harmful to members of society and in need of remedy  What are the components of the structure of society? o Institutions o Social groups o Statuses o Roles  What are the components of the culture of society? o Belief o Values o Norms o Symbols  What is the sociological imagination, and why is it important? o Ability to see connection b/w personal lives & social world in which we live o Important: able to distinguish b/w “private troubles” & “public issues”  What are the first four stages of a research study? 1. Formulating a research question 2. Reviewing the literature 3. Defining variables 4. Formulating a hypothesis  What are the differences between the three sociological perspectives? o Structural functionalism – interconnectedness of society focused on how each part influences & influenced by other parts o Conflict perspective – views society as composed of diff. groups & interests competing for power & resources o Symbolic interactionism – emphasize human behavior: influenced defs & meanings created and maintained through symbolic interaction with others 1. Definitions of social problems are clear a. Can be defined as the powerlessness and unambiguous and meaninglessness in people’s lives a. False 5. Blumer’s stages of social problems begin 2. The social structure of society contains: with a. Statuses and roles a. Societal recognition 3. The culture of society refers to its 6. The independent variable comes first in meaning and the ways of life of its time members a. True a. True 7. The third stage in defining a research study is a. Defining the variables 4. Alienation 6 8. A sample is a subgroup of the population 10.Students benefit from reading this book —the group to whom you actually give because it the questionnaire a. Provides global coverage of social a. True problems, highlights social problems 9. Studying police behavior by riding along research, and encourage students to with patrol officers would be an example take pro-social action of a. Participant observation & field research 7


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