Constructing Social Problems

Constructing Social Problems

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There is no adequate definition of social problems within sociology, and there is not and never has been a sociology of social problems. That observation is the point of departure of this book. The authors aim to provide such a definition and to prepare the ground for the empirical study of social problems. They are aware that their objective will strike many fellow sociologists as ambitious, perhaps even arrogant. Their work challenges sociologists who have, over a period of fifty years, written treatises on social problems, produced textbooks cataloguing the nature, distribution, and causes of these problems, and taught many sociology courses. It is only natural that the authors' work will be viewed as controversial in light of the large literature which has established a qsociology ofq a wide range of social problems-the sociology of race relations, prostitution, poverty, crime, mental illness, and so forth. In the 1970s when the authors were preparing for a seminar on the sociology of social problems, their review of the qliteratureq revealed the absence of any systematic, coherent statement of theory or method in the study of social problems. For many years the subject was listed and offered by university departments of sociology as a qservice courseq to present undergraduates with what they should know about the various qsocial pathologiesq that exist in their society. This conception of social problems for several decades has been reflected in the substance and quality of the literature dominated by textbooks. In Constructing Social Problems, the authors propose that social problems be conceived as the claims-making activities of individuals or groups regarding social conditions they consider unjust, immoral, or harmful and that should be addressed. This perspective, as the authors have formulated it, conceives of social problems as a process of interaction that produces social problems as social facts in society. The authors further propose that this process and the social facts it produces are the data to be researched for the sociology of social problems. This volume will be of interest to those concerned with the discipline of sociology, especially its current theoretical development and growth. Malcolm Spector was professor of sociology at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. John I. Kitsuse is professor emeritus at the University of California at Santa Cruz. He is co-author(with Leonard Broom) of The Managed Casualty: The Japanese American Family in World War II, and co-editor (with Theodore R. Sarbin) of Constructing the Social.SOME FURTHER CONSIDERATIONS Our approach basically takes a grass- roots view of social problems in which ... given credit for the marijuana tax act, they agreed that there was no public outcry or popular crusade against marijuana use.

Title:Constructing Social Problems
Author: Malcolm Spector
Publisher:Transaction Publishers - 1987

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