SOCI 150 - Notes Pt.1

SOCI 150 - Notes Pt.1 - SOCI 150: Social Problems Why Study...

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SOCI 150: Social Problems Why Study Social Problems? 1. Moral Reasons : large numbers of people are harmed by social problems 2. Survival Reasons : social problems seriously threaten the quality of individual and group life 3. Democratic Reasons : a foundation of democracy is informed participation, with the goal of bettering the human condition. What is a Social Problem? Late 19 th century : the U.S. social reformers, grounded in values of white Protestantism. - Values : protestant work ethic, sexual purity, personal discipline. - Social Problems : emanate from “defective dependent, and delinquent classes” with poor physical constitutions and low moral character. o (Immigrants and those from lower class had lesser morals; anti-alcohol movement) - Solutions : rise of modern prisons, asylums, reformatories, beginning of welfare state. Early 20 th century : rise of scientific sociology and “value free” inquiry. - Rejection of moralism - Rise of scientific method in study of society - Embrace of “value free” neutrality – does not declare what is right or wrong. - Social problems are what “society” says they are. o Lawrence Frank (1925) – “a social problem is any difficulty or misbehavior of a fairly large number of persons which we wish to remove or correct” o Arnold Rose (1957) – “social problems are conditions which affect sizable proportions of the population, which are out of harmony with the values of a significant segment of the population and which people feel can be improved or eliminated” o Problem: who is the “we”? Who gets to decide what is a social problem. Alexander Toqueville (France) came to America and noted the “tyranny of the majority”. Mid-late 20 th century : emergence of debates and competing theories about what constitutes a “social problem”. - C. Wright Mills (1916-1962) o White Collar (1951) – analyzed the emerging middle class. o The Power Elite (1956) – analyzed the influence of the elite. o The Causes of World War III (1958) o The Sociological Imagination (1959) – analyzed and critiqued his profession. “…the quality of mind essential to grasp the interplay of man and society, of biography and history, of self and world” “Neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both”. “…the individual can understand his own experience and gauge his own fate only by locating himself with his period, that he can know his own life chances in life only by becoming aware of those of all individuals in his circumstance” You can’t understand an individual without looking at the historical context in which the individual lives. However, you can’t understand societal history without looking at the story of the individual. -
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This note was uploaded on 12/01/2011 for the course SOCI 150gm at USC.

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SOCI 150 - Notes Pt.1 - SOCI 150: Social Problems Why Study...

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