Social problems theory (other source)

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nadia dresscherUniversity of Aruba2011I simply cant track this woman down. I dont know if I am heisting this from some publisher.

Framing Social Problems

An introduction to a theoretical framework for the analysis of social problems 2

Different theoretical perspectives for approaching social problems

A perspective influences how you:Approaches Levels of analysis of social problemsSociological paradigms:Structural functionalism, conflict theory, symbolic interactionism, feminist theory, queer theory, social constructionism, critical constructionismNormative paradigmsHuman-rights, basic needs, human development and capability approachSocial movementsChanging social structures

Levels of Analysis of Social ProblemsLevel of analysis:Level of social life where social problems are manifestedObjective and subjective analysis of the construction of social problemsMacro and micro level of society

Level of social lifeSocial problems are manifested at multiple levels of social life. The factors that cause, facilitate, and help to perpetuate social problems are found at the following levels:Individual (e.g. attitudes) Group (e.g. ideologies of terrorist groups, segregation, stereotyping social groups)Societal (e.g. the government, the community)Global (e.g. climate, globalization of economy)The multiple-level factors: in interaction with each other objective vs. subjective analysis of SPsMacro vs. micro analysisSocial structuresindividualMicro and Macro level analysisThe different sociological perspectives are like the photographers' lenses, allowing different ways of looking at a common subject (Newman, 2000):For the analysis of Social Problems you can take:a Micro sociological lens: zoom lensa Macro sociological lens: wide-angle lensor any number of perspectives located on the continuum between the two

11Macro and Micro level analysis:The micro perspective assumes that societys larger structures are shaped through individual interactions; while,The macro perspective assumes that societys larger structures shape those individual interactions and individual lives.Think of these perspectives as being on a continuum 12

Sociological Paradigms

Structural Functionalism

Structural functionalismLevel of analysis: macroAssumption about society: orderSociety is held together by a set of social institutions, each of which has a specific function in society (an integrated system). This perspective focuses on social systems and the way in which their independent parts maintain order, bound together by shared values and norms. How the theory might explain social problems:Problems arise out of social disorganization, a state in which consensus about norms has broken down.

Structural functionalism questionsHow does the problem reflect changes among social institutions and structures?What are the functions and dysfunctions of the problem?

Conflict Theory

Conflict theoryLevel of analysis: macroAssumption about society: conflictSociety is held together by power and coercion. Conflict and inequality are inherent in the social structure. This perspective focuses on contradictory interests of groups, in equalities in society and the resulting conflict and change.How the theory might explain social problems:Problems are the result of dominance over, and exploitation of, some groups by others. Conflict theory questions:How does the problem originate from the competition between social groups and from the social structure itself?What groups are in competition and why?

Symbolic interactionismSymbolic interactionismLevel of analysis: microAssumption about society: Society is created through social interaction. This perspective focuses on the interaction between individuals, the importance of knowing individuals perspectives to understand their behavior, and the ways in which social life is constructed through interaction.How the theory might explain social problems:A situation or form of behavior becomes a problem when people define it as suchSymbolic interactionism questions:How is the problem socially constructed and defined?How is the problem behavior learned through interaction?How is the problem labeled by those concerned about it?

Defining social problems in terms of the 3 paradigms:a social problem: is a condition or pattern of behavior that:contradicts some other condition or pattern of behavior and is defined as incompatible with the desired quality of lifeis caused, facilitated, or prolonged by factors that operate at multiple levels of social lifeinvolves intergroup conflict andrequires social action to be resolvedInteraction between these factors:

Feminist ApproachFeminist TheoryIs a theoretical approach that looks at gender inequalities in society and the way that gender structures the social worldMacro and Micro analysisConflict theory, social constructionism, symbolic interactionism, structural-functionalism and critical constructionism and other normative approaches

Queer TheoryQueer Theory A perspective that proposes that categories of sexual identity are social constructs and no sexual category is fundamentally either deviant or normalWe create these meanings socially (which means we can change those meanings as wellQuestions the basis of all social categories, including but not limited to those involving sexuality

Macro and micro level of analysis of social problemsHas elements of conflict theory, social constructionism, post-modernism and symbolic interactionism

Questionssubjective SPsWhy are some seemingly harmful phenomena considered social problems and not other seemingly harmful phenomena?Why do some social problems get more attention that other social problems?

Social ConstructionismSocial ConstructionismIs concerned with how the meanings of social problems are constructed and examines these processesWhy and How is a problem defined as a social problem? and by Whom, What processes are going on here?

Problem construction involves the following process:

Constructing a social problem

Social ConstructionismSC suggests that the degree to which a social problem is perceived as problematic, as well as the kind of problem it is understood to be, is a function of social interaction

Social problems arent immediately obvious, but need to be interpreted and presented to us.

Some people have more power to deliver a message to the public than others.

We define this as a social problem

Each of these risk scenarios is represented by two conjunct circles. The circles grow from a centre line to the upper and lower parts of the mirror. The size of the upper circle indicates the degree of Public Outrage, the size of the lower one the Actual threat within a risk scenario. The overall size of a pair of circles indicates the probability of personally being affected.43

Critical ConstructionismCritical constructionismIt is a synthesis of conflict theory and symbolic interactionism, it tries to answer the question posed:Why are some seemingly harmful phenomena considered social problems and not other seemingly harmful phenomena?Why do some social problems get more attention that other social problems?Differs from social constructionism only in that it emphasizes the role of elite interests in the process of problem construction

Critical Constructionism

Who are the elite according to critical constructionists?


Tough Guise

Capitalism rationale

(Corporate/political) networks of interests

52Homogenization of culture

Recap: Critical constructionists are critical on the role of these factors in constructing SP:Elite groups that can shape policies and public domainThe mediaCapitalism rationaleCorporation networks of interestsHomogenization of (American lifestyle) culture

Framing Social Problems

An introduction to a theoretical framework for the analysis of social problems 3

Normative approachesNormative approaches to social problemsThese are more normative frameworks for the approach of social problems. These approaches have an ideal as objective (Utopia? Universalism?). They want to catalyze social change. They have a strong emphasis on human development, quality of life, sustainability and equality for all, Advocacy, activism, influence on policies, they want to change the social structure that reproduces social inequality

Normative frameworks:

Human-Rights based approachedBasic Needs ApproachHuman Development and Capability Approach (HDCA)

Human Rights approachHuman right as a claim to a fundamental benefit that should be enjoyed universally by all people everywhere on the basis of equality and non-discriminationViolation of human rights is considered a social problem.

5 underlying human rights principles:universality: they apply to all people everywhere by virtue of their humanityEquality: the benefits of human rights should be enjoyed on the basis of equality and non-discriminationInalienability: human rights cannot be transferred or taken awayIndivisibility: civil, political, economic and social rights are indivisible: one cannot give priority to one over the othersInterdependence: economic, social, civil and political rights are deeply interdependent.

The basic needs approachThe Basic needs approachIncomes + public services + participationThe basic needs approach is a reminder that the objective of development is to provide human beings with the opportunity for a full lifeSocial problems are identified in terms of absence of basic needs, like: income, education, health etc.Human Development and Capability Approach (HDCA)I refer to sheets of unit 2 an unit 3 of GE 6 (The future of development) for an elaborated presentation of the HDCACapabilities, Functionings, Agency