Social Problems Essay

Social Problems Essay

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A way of distinguishing a realist perspective between theories of social problems within is to contrast the 'level of analysis' on which their explanations are focused. Many theories that seek to explain social problems function at the level of the psychological or biological conditions that make some people behave badly – discovering the gene, chromosome or mental characteristic that separates the deviant from the normal. Such clarifications tend to operate at an individual level of analysis, dealing with the certain characteristics of the different and deviant individual. Others explanations tend to focus on a micro-social level, dealing with patterns of interaction between specific individuals and groups for example peer groups. (May 2001:5).
Any phenomenon defined as a social problem requires collective response rather than an individual resolution. For example : “When, in a city of 100,000, only one man is unemployed that is his personal trouble, and for its relief we properly look to the character of the man, his skills and his immediate opportunities. But when in a nation of 50 million employees, 15 million men are unemployed, that is an issue, and we may not hope to find its solution within the range of opportunities open to any one individual.” (Mills 1959:8) This example suggests that social problems only really become an issue when they affect a large proportion of society. What for one might look like a problem and if a large group of society is not affected, there is little probability that it will be defined as a social problem.

The “war of drugs” is one of the most argumentative examples of social problem construction. Throughout the world people consume all sorts of chemicals that affect their bodies: they dr...


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...ed
Blau, J. (2004) The dynamics of social welfare policy. New York: Oxford University Press.
Hoffman, B. (1997). The Confluence of International and Domestic Trends in Terrorism. London: Routledge.
Paskus, A. (1998) Tikejimo ir netikejimo salytis siandien. Kaunas: Lietuvos katechetikos komisijos leidykla.
Erksine, A. (1998) The approaches and methods of social policy. Oxford: Blackwell.
May, M. (2001) Understanding social problems: issues in social policy. Oxford: Blackwell.
Mills, C. W. (1959) The social imagination. London: Oxford University Press.
The Economist (March 7th 2009) Free range. A selection of articles from the Economist. How to stop the drug wars. Sample edition: UK.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2009) Fast Facts: Tobacco and Death. http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fast_facts/index.htm Accessed 12.01.10

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