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Social Problems.

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Presentation on theme: "Social Problems."— Presentation transcript:

1 Social Problems

2 Definition of a Social Problem
Social problems have two components 1. an objective component 2. a subjective component

3 Textbook Definition when enough people in a society agree that a condition exists that threatens the quality of their lives and their most cherished values, and they also agree that something should be done to remedy the condition This definition is vague

4 Awareness of Social Problems
Our own experience The Media social movements

5 Sociological Imagination C. Wright Mills (1959)
An awareness of the relationship between an individual and the wider society The ability to view one's own society as an outsider would, rather than from the limited perspective of personal experiences and cultural biases our experiences are influenced by social forces Mills argued that the Sociological Imagination enables us to understand the relationship between “private problems” and “public issues”

6 Because Americans stress personal individualism, we commonly think in terms of the individual “deviant” and his or her problem.

Sociological perspective tend to focus on one of two different levels 1. Theories of society (macro theories) 2. social psychological theories (micro theories)

8 Structural Functionalism
Macro Theories Conflict Theory Micro Theories Symbolic Interaction

9 FUNCTIONALIST PERSPECTIVE (Structural Functionalism)
First used by August Comte, and Herbert Spencer. The central idea of functional analysis is that society is a whole unit, made up of interrelated parts that work together. It views society as something like a living organism with the different institutions such as the political, family and religious acting like the brain, and the heart to maintain the body alive.

10 Societies represent an intricate system of interrelated parts (social structures) whose activities have consequences (social functions)

11 Functionalists see a common set of norms and values as the glue that holds groups, institutions, and whole societies together. Thus, one of the major sources of contemporary social problems is the weakening of the social consensus Functionalists theorists assume that human beings work together through common consensus to collectively preserve society.

12 social disorganization involves a breakdown of social structure, so that its various parts no longer work together as smoothly as they should

13 Conflict Theory This perspective is associated with the writings of Karl Marx Conflict perspective assumes that social behavior is best understood in terms of conflict or tension among competing groups It views societies as being composed of diverse groups with conflicting values and interests

14 Conflict Theory - continued
Conflict theorists see a diverse collection of social groups all struggling for wealth, power and prestige Marx stressed that there are two social classes with competing interest: 1. The bourgeoisie and 2. the proletariat Conflict sociologists see social problems as the inevitable byproducts of power

15 Conflict Theory - continued
social problems are in large part the result of the intentional exploitation of weak groups by powerful ones Sociologists use the conflict model not only on economic conflicts but also on conflicts that have no clear economic basis, conflicts over values, ethics, and behavior

16 Value Conflict Theory Value Conflict Theorists define social problems as conditions that are incompatible with group values. According to this theory, social problems occur when groups with different values meet and compete. From this perspective social problems need to be understood in terms of which groups hold which values and have the power to enforce them against the wishes of other groups.

17 Feminist Theory not really a single theory but a group of theories that share a concern with the same basic questions Many feminists believe that the exploitation of women by their male counterparts is the original and most basic form of social exploitation

George Herbert Mead American Sociologist ( ) is the founder of this perspective Social psychology is concerned with the behavior of single individuals and small groups, and their relationships with the larger society Symbolic interactionists view symbols- things that we attach meaning- as the basis of social life.

19 A symbol is something representing something else; symbols range from words and language to nonverbal gestures and signs According to symbolic interaction, people attach meanings to each others words and actions To understand individual behavior, the interactionist tries to look at the world though the eyes of the actors involved

20 This understanding of the of the conditions in which we find ourselves, known as the definition of the situation Symbolic interactionism explains our behavior in terms of the patterns of thoughts and beliefs we have, and in terms of the meaning we give our lives

21 Social Construction Of Social Problems
This approach argues that some social problems become dominant and others remain weak or unheeded. The activities of individuals and institutions in society shape our consciousness of the social world. Journalists, television commentators, editorial writers, professors among others.

22 Labeling: An Interactionist View
This theory focuses on the impact of labels applied to those who deviate. Power differences result in an inconsistency in labeling. Labeling theorists argue that social problems are conditions under which certain behaviors or situations become defined as social problems.

23 Who benefits from labeling homosexuals deviant?
Terrorists vs Freedom fighters, looters vs desperate survivors. According to labeling theory, the way to solve social problems is to change the definition of what is considered deviant.

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