• nadia dresscher
• University of Aruba
• 2011
• I simply can’t track this woman down. I don’t
know if I am heisting this ...
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:
Identify
(pinpoint)
See
(frames)
Analyze
(causes &
consequences)
understand
Value &
atti...
Approaches
• Levels of analysis of social problems
• Sociological paradigms:
– Structural functionalism, conflict theory, ...
Levels of Analysis of Social Problems
Level of analysis:
1. Level of social life where social problems are
manifested
2. Objective and subjective analysis of th...
Level of social life
• Social problems are manifested at multiple levels of
social life. The factors that cause, facilitat...
objective vs. subjective analysis of SP’s
Social problems as
real conditions that
can be measured,
explained and solved
Th...
Macro vs. micro analysis
Micro: the
individual
Macro: larger structures of society.
E.g. economic, political, educational,...
Micro and Macro level analysis
• The different sociological perspectives are like the
photographers' lenses, allowing diff...
Macro and Micro level analysis:
• The micro perspective assumes that society’s
larger structures are shaped through indivi...
Sociological Paradigms
Structural Functionalism
Structural functionalism
• Level of analysis: macro
• Assumption about society: order
• Society is held together by a set ...
Structural functionalism questions
• How does the problem reflect changes among
social institutions and structures?
• What...
Conflict Theory
Conflict theory
• Level of analysis: macro
• Assumption about society: conflict
• Society is held together by power and co...
Conflict theory questions:
• How does the problem originate from the
competition between social groups and from
the social...
Symbolic interactionism
Symbolic interactionism
• Level of analysis: micro
• Assumption about society:
• Society is created through social interac...
Symbolic interactionism questions:
• How is the problem socially constructed and
defined?
• How is the problem behavior le...
Defining social problems in terms of
the 3 paradigms:
a social problem: is a condition or pattern of
behavior that:
1. con...
Interaction between these factors:
Social problems because of contradictions that decreases quality of life
Tackling these...
Feminist Approach
Feminist Theory
• Is a theoretical approach that looks at gender inequalities
in society and the way that gender structure...
Queer Theory
Queer Theory
• A perspective that proposes that categories of
sexual identity are social constructs and no
sexual category...
• Macro and micro level of analysis of social
problems
• Has elements of conflict theory, social
constructionism, post-mod...
Questions
‘subjective’ SP’s
• Why are some seemingly harmful phenomena
considered social problems and not other
seemingly ...
Social Constructionism
Social Constructionism
• Is concerned with how the meanings of social
problems are constructed and examines
these processe...
Problem construction involves
the following process:
Identification
of a
phenomenon
as problematic
Providing of
explanatio...
Social Constructionism
• SC suggests that the degree to which a social
problem is perceived as problematic, as well as
the...
We define this
as a
social problem
Critical Constructionism
Critical constructionism
• It is a synthesis of conflict theory and symbolic
interactionism, it tries to answer the questi...
Critical Constructionism
All interpretations of reality are influenced by our
experiences. All knowledge is socially const...
Who are the ‘elite’ according to critical
constructionists?
Media
Tough Guise
Capitalism rationale
(Corporate/political) networks of interests
Homogenization of culture
Recap: Critical constructionists are critical on the
role of these factors in constructing SP:
• Elite groups that can sha...
Framing Social Problems
An introduction to a theoretical framework for the
analysis of social problems 3
Normative approaches
Normative approaches to social problems
• These are more normative frameworks for the
approach of social problems.
• These...
Normative frameworks:
• Human-Rights based approached
• Basic Needs Approach
• Human Development and Capability Approach
(...
Human Rights approach
• Human right as a claim to a fundamental benefit
that should be enjoyed universally by all people
everywhere on the basis...
5 underlying human rights principles:
1. universality: they apply to all people everywhere by
virtue of their humanity
2. ...
The basic needs approach
The Basic needs approach
• Incomes + public services + participation
• The basic needs approach is a reminder that
the obj...
Human Development and Capability
Approach (HDCA)
• I refer to sheets of unit 2 an unit 3 of GE 6
(The future of developmen...
Human Rights, basic needs and human development
are complementary and reinforce each other
• Human rights express the bold...
Social Movements
Social movements
• Is an organized effort by a large number of people to bring
about or impede social change.
• Defined in...
The major types of social movements
1. reform movements,
2. revolutionary movements,
3. reactionary movements,
4. self-hel...
Through movements/activism individuals
collectively try to change social structures
Micro and Macro influences that
influence the rise of social movements
• A key micro factor is social attachment, as socia...
Social movements in Aruba
• History of social movements
• Future of social movements
Social problems theory (other source)
Social problems theory (other source)
Social problems theory (other source)
Social problems theory (other source)
Social problems theory (other source)
Social problems theory (other source)
Social problems theory (other source)
Social problems theory (other source)
Social problems theory (other source)
Social problems theory (other source)
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  • 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.
  • Social problems theory (other source)

    1. 1. • nadia dresscher • University of Aruba • 2011 • I simply can’t track this woman down. I don’t know if I am heisting this from some publisher.
    2. 2. Framing Social Problems An introduction to a theoretical framework for the analysis of social problems 2
    3. 3. Different theoretical perspectives for approaching social problems
    4. 4. A perspective influences how you: Identify (pinpoint) See (frames) Analyze (causes & consequences) understand Value & attitude Talk about with others (discourse) Act (solutions)
    5. 5. Approaches • Levels of analysis of social problems • Sociological paradigms: – Structural functionalism, conflict theory, symbolic interactionism, feminist theory, queer theory, social constructionism, critical constructionism • Normative paradigms – Human-rights, basic needs, human development and capability approach • Social movements – Changing social structures
    6. 6. Levels of Analysis of Social Problems
    7. 7. Level of analysis: 1. Level of social life where social problems are manifested 2. Objective and subjective analysis of the construction of social problems 3. Macro and micro level of society
    8. 8. Level of social life • Social 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
    9. 9. objective vs. subjective analysis of SP’s Social problems as real conditions that can be measured, explained and solved They may be different approaches to the measurement, explanation and the solution to this ‘objective reality’ But social problems exist independently of what people think about them Objective reality Human behaviors, traits and social conditions become ‘problems’ through a collective process of definition Social problems are social constructions (interpretations) that exist as a result of human efforts to pinpoint negative labels on human behavior, traits and social conditions Subjective reality
    10. 10. Macro vs. micro analysis Micro: the individual Macro: larger structures of society. E.g. economic, political, educational, legal that constrain the opportunities available for people
    11. 11. Micro and Macro level analysis • The 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 lens • a Macro sociological lens: wide-angle lens • or any number of perspectives located on the continuum between the two
    12. 12. Macro and Micro level analysis: • The micro perspective assumes that society’s larger structures are shaped through individual interactions; while, • The macro perspective assumes that society’s larger structures shape those individual interactions and individual lives. • Think of these perspectives as being on a continuum
    13. 13. Sociological Paradigms
    14. 14. Structural Functionalism
    15. 15. Structural functionalism • Level of analysis: macro • Assumption about society: order • Society 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.
    16. 16. Structural functionalism questions • How does the problem reflect changes among social institutions and structures? • What are the functions and dysfunctions of the problem?
    17. 17. Conflict Theory
    18. 18. Conflict theory • Level of analysis: macro • Assumption about society: conflict • Society 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.
    19. 19. 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?
    20. 20. Symbolic interactionism
    21. 21. Symbolic interactionism • Level of analysis: micro • Assumption 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 such
    22. 22. Symbolic 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?
    23. 23. Defining social problems in terms of the 3 paradigms: a social problem: is a condition or pattern of behavior that: 1. contradicts some other condition or pattern of behavior and is defined as incompatible with the desired quality of life 2. is caused, facilitated, or prolonged by factors that operate at multiple levels of social life 3. involves intergroup conflict and 4. requires social action to be resolved
    24. 24. Interaction between these factors: Social problems because of contradictions that decreases quality of life Tackling these contradictions can bring social change for solutions Social interaction Institutions, norms, roles, stratification Values, attitudes, ideologies
    25. 25. Feminist Approach
    26. 26. Feminist Theory • Is a theoretical approach that looks at gender inequalities in society and the way that gender structures the social world • Macro and Micro analysis • Conflict theory, social constructionism, symbolic interactionism, structural-functionalism and critical constructionism and other normative approaches
    27. 27. Queer Theory
    28. 28. Queer Theory • A perspective that proposes that categories of sexual identity are social constructs and no sexual category is fundamentally either deviant or normal • We create these meanings socially (which means we can change those meanings as well • Questions the basis of all social categories, including but not limited to those involving sexuality
    29. 29. • Macro and micro level of analysis of social problems • Has elements of conflict theory, social constructionism, post-modernism and symbolic interactionism
    30. 30. Questions ‘subjective’ SP’s • 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?
    31. 31. Social Constructionism
    32. 32. Social Constructionism • Is concerned with how the meanings of social problems are constructed and examines these processes • Why and How is a problem defined as a social problem? and by Whom, What processes are going on here?
    33. 33. Problem construction involves the following process: Identification of a phenomenon as problematic Providing of explanations for the causes of that phenomenon Persuasion of the public that the phenomenon is problematic and needs to be addressed
    34. 34. Social Constructionism • SC 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 aren’t 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.
    35. 35. We define this as a social problem
    36. 36. Critical Constructionism
    37. 37. Critical constructionism • It 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
    38. 38. Critical Constructionism All interpretations of reality are influenced by our experiences. All knowledge is socially constructed Social problems therefore are constructed, interpreted to the public/us and are worthy of constructionist analysis The way social problems are constructed, conceived and presented to the public can reflect the interests of society’s elite more often than those of the mainstream and often at the expense of those with the least power
    39. 39. Who are the ‘elite’ according to critical constructionists?
    40. 40. Media
    41. 41. Tough Guise
    42. 42. Capitalism rationale
    43. 43. (Corporate/political) networks of interests
    44. 44. Homogenization of culture
    45. 45. Recap: Critical constructionists are critical on the role of these factors in constructing SP: • Elite groups that can shape policies and public domain • The media • Capitalism rationale • Corporation networks of interests • Homogenization of (American lifestyle) culture
    46. 46. Framing Social Problems An introduction to a theoretical framework for the analysis of social problems 3
    47. 47. Normative approaches
    48. 48. Normative approaches to social problems • These 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
    49. 49. Normative frameworks: • Human-Rights based approached • Basic Needs Approach • Human Development and Capability Approach (HDCA)
    50. 50. Human Rights approach
    51. 51. • Human right as a claim to a fundamental benefit that should be enjoyed universally by all people everywhere on the basis of equality and non- discrimination • Violation of human rights is considered a social problem.
    52. 52. 5 underlying human rights principles: 1. universality: they apply to all people everywhere by virtue of their humanity 2. Equality: the benefits of human rights should be enjoyed on the basis of equality and non- discrimination 3. Inalienability: human rights cannot be transferred or taken away 4. Indivisibility: civil, political, economic and social rights are indivisible: one cannot give priority to one over the others 5. Interdependence: economic, social, civil and political rights are deeply interdependent.
    53. 53. The basic needs approach
    54. 54. The Basic needs approach • Incomes + public services + participation • The basic needs approach is a reminder that the objective of development is to provide human beings with the opportunity for a full life • Social problems are identified in terms of absence of basic needs, like: income, education, health etc.
    55. 55. 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 HDCA • Capabilities, Functionings, Agency and Freedom
    56. 56. Human Rights, basic needs and human development are complementary and reinforce each other • Human rights express the bold idea that all people have claims to social arrangements that protect them from the worst abuses and deprivations-and that secure the freedom for a life of dignity. (“basic needs”) • Human development in turn, is a process of enhancing human capabilities- to expand choices and opportunities so that each person can lead a life of respect and value. When human development and human rights advance together, they reinforce one another- expanding people’s capabilities and protecting their rights and fundamental freedoms. (UNDP, 2000, p2)
    57. 57. Social Movements
    58. 58. Social movements • Is an organized effort by a large number of people to bring about or impede social change. • Defined in this way, social movements might sound similar to special-interest groups, and they do have some things in common. But a major difference between social movements and special-interest groups lies in the nature of their actions. • Special-interest groups normally work within the system via conventional political activities such as lobbying and election campaigning. • In contrast, social movements often work outside the system by engaging in various kinds of protest, including demonstrations, picket lines, sit-ins, and sometimes outright violence.
    59. 59. The major types of social movements 1. reform movements, 2. revolutionary movements, 3. reactionary movements, 4. self-help movements, 5. religious movements.
    60. 60. Through movements/activism individuals collectively try to change social structures
    61. 61. Micro and Macro influences that influence the rise of social movements • A key micro factor is social attachment, as social movement participants tend to have friendships and organizational ties that “pull” them into movements and promote their continued participation in a movement. • Macro factors include certain social, economic, and political conditions in the larger social environment that generate interest in joining a movement and/or weaken the government as it attempts to deal with a social movement.
    62. 62. Social movements in Aruba • History of social movements • Future of social movements
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