Sociology: Studying Social Problems

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Sociology
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Systematic study of human society
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C. Wright Mills
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coined expression \”sociological imagination\” to encourage people to view personal problems as connected to workings of society
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Sociological Imagination
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a point of view that highlights how society affects the experiences we have and the choices we make
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Society
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people who live within some territory and share many patterns of behavior
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Culture
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a way of life including widespread values, beliefs, and behavior
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Social Problem
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a condition that undermines that well-being of some or all members of society and is usually a matter of public controversy
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Social-Constructionist Approach
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the assertion that social problems arise as people define conditions as undesirable and in need of change
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Claims Making
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the process of convincing the public and important public officials that a particular issue or situation should be defined as a social problem
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Social Movement
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An organized effort at claims making that tries to shape the way people think about an issue in order to encourage or discourage social change
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True or False: The specific conditions defined as social problems change over time
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True
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True or False: At any particular time, the objective facts and the subjective perception of any issue may or may not be the same
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True
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Why is a global perspective important?
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Many social problems cross national boundaries. Also, many problems are more serious other places than in the US (ebolla)
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The Four Stages of Social Movements
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Emergence, Coalescence, Formalization, Decline
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Theory
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A statement of how & why specific facts are related. We can confirm, modify, or reject it. An effective one can have explanatory & predictive powers
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Theoretical Approach
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a basic image of society that guides theory and research
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Structural-Functionalist Approach
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a theoretical framework that sees society as a system of many interrelated parts
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Social Institution
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A major sphere of social life, or societal subsystem, organized to meet human needs.
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Social-Conflict Approach
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a theoretical framework that sees society as divided by inequality and conflict
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Feminism
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A political movement that seeks the social equality of men and women
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Symbolic-Interaction Approach
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a theoretical framework that sees society as the product of individuals interacting with one another
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Macro-Level Approaches
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structural-functionalist, social-conflict, feminist
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Micro-Level Approaches
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Symbolic-Interaction
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Social Pathology Theory
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Early, viewed problems as disruptions in society’s normal operation
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Social Disorganization Theory
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Later, linked social problems to rapid change
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Functionalism
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views social problems in terms of the dysfunctions of various social patterns
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Highlights of social-conflict
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Inequality based on class, race, ethnicity
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Class Conflict Theory
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Carl Marx, links social problems to operation of a capitalist economic system
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Multicultural Theory
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Spotlights problems arising from inequality between people in various racial and ethnic groups
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Feminist Theory Highlights
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Links social problems to men’s domination of women
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Learning Approach
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links social problems to the learning of undesirable skills and attitudes from others
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Labeling Approach
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investigates how and why people come to define certain behaviors as problematic and others as normal
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Survey
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a research method in which subject respond to items on a questionnaire or in an interview
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Field Research
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A research method for observing people while joining them in their everyday activities
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Experiment
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A research method for investigating cause-and-effect relationships under tightly controlled circumstances
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Secondary Analysis
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A research method in which researchers use existing material and analyze data that were originally collected by others
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Social Policy
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Formal strategies that affect how society operates
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How Social Policy is Evaluated
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Success, cost, whether the population it targets represents the best solution to the problem
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True or False: Societies favor social policy that reflects important cultural values
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True
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Political Spectrum
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A range of political biases, generally from left (pro government, pro equality) to the right (pro democracy, pro individual freedoms)
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Social Issues
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Political debates involving moral judgments of how people should live
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Economic Issues
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Political debates about how a society should distribute material resources
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How Conservatives View Problems
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Claim social problems arise from the shortcomings of particular individuals or the bad choices people make about how to live
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How Conservatives View Solutions
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See the family and religion as important social institutions transmitting the moral traditions that guise people to live good lives
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How Liberals View Problems
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Claim that social problems arise from the operation of society, including patterns of social inequity that prevent categories of people from having social equality
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How Liberals View Solutions
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Seek reform rather than radical change in social institutions
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How Radical Right View Problems
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Claim biggest problem is growth of government which threatens personal freedoms
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How Radical Right View Solutions
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Some retract from society all together and become survivalists
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How Radical Left View Problems
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Marxist claim social problems come from operation of capitalist economic system
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How Radical Left View Solutions
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Change society’s institutions, starting with the economy
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Different Types of Survey Research
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questionnaire, interview, case study

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