Social problems are a central theme of sociology. They refer to different types of problems that negatively affect a society,its social structure, and their values.
Social problems may consist of global issues such as poverty, displacement and terrorism. They can also include issues in a particular society or region, such as B. The pressing problem of homelessness in Seattle and Portland.
Unlike personal problems or natural disasters, social problems are created by society and can be solved by it.
Definition of social problems
Simply put, social problems are problems that harm a group of people in society.
They also refer to:
"Social conditions, processes, social arrangements or attitudes that are commonly perceived as undesirable, negative and threatening to particular values or interests..." (Jamrozik & Nocella, 1998, p. 1)
Social problems can arise in a single country or affect international world society. They can affect society by harming its harmony, stability, security or freedom.
Unlike physical or natural problems, social problems are related to social processes.social interactions. For example, while malnutrition may appear to be a physical condition, it is actually a social problem resulting from war, conflict, poverty, or abuse.
Most social problems areconsequences of social inequalityand its implications (Jamrozik & Nocella, 1998). For example,socioeconomic inequalityleading to a lack of affordable housing and homelessness.
A social problem can be identified by three main characteristics:
- Social reasons:A condition must have a social reason to be considered a social problem.
- Negative effects:A social problem should adversely affect society by threatening its security, liberty, or other values.
- Social Solutions:A social problem must be a condition that can be ended through social solutions (Jamrozik & Nocella, 1998).
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Quick Examples of Social Problems
- unemployment and underemployment: While unemployment means not having a job, the underemployed only have part-time, casual or temporary work. Both unemployment and underemployment are global social problems. They harm individuals and communities by reducing their productivity and affecting their socioeconomic status.
- racial discrimination: Racial discrimination includes any form of hostile treatment of an individual or group because of their race. It is a social problem derived from racial inequalities. Racial discrimination creates unfair social and economic conditions for discriminated individuals and communities.
- housing crisis: The lack of affordable housing is a growing social problem affecting most Canadian cities and parts of the United States and Europe. These include rising housing and rent costs, and homelessness can occur.
- malnutrition: The lack of access to nutritious and affordable food is a social problem that affects various societies around the world. While malnutrition in countries like Yemen is a consequence of wars and conflicts, in some other countries like the United States it is a consequence of growing income inequality.
- health care shortage: Lack of access to timely and quality medical care is a social problem that is increasingly affecting Canadian and American societies, leading to extremely long wait times for a medical visit. It also has a negative impact on the overall quality of mental and physical health care.
- change: Forced migration and the expulsion of people from their countries of origin is a global social problem. Every year thousands of people are forced to become refugees due to war, conflict, poverty and climate change.
- Political corruption: Political corruption refers to the abuse of power by government officials for personal gain. It is a social problem that generates mistrust and mistrust towards political authorities.
- Substance abuse:The problem with drug abuse is often that it makes society less safe and can make homes with vulnerable people unstable and harmful.
- Obesity:Poor quality food in stores, the high cost of fresh food, and poor social education campaigns can lead to obesity, which reduces life expectancy.
- Social isolation:Social isolation is common among older people or vulnerable populations with low social capital. Your isolation can damage your mental health.
- Glass roof:As a result ofSocial injustices in the practice of contracting, women represent only 19% of management positions and6% of the S&P 500 IndexCEO positions.
- Gender pay gap:women deserve83 centsfor every dollar earned by men. This is due to a number of complex social and cultural factors.
- ageism:This includes mistreating or biasing people because of their age. Until64 percentof older workers say they have experienced age discrimination in the workplace.
- Gerrymandering:This involves manipulating voters to favor one party over another. The United States is classified as aflawed democracypor gerrymandering.
- Gender in education:In the developing world, there are millions of girlsdenied an educationdue to gender discrimination.
- forced marriage:There is more of15 million peopleforced around the world to marry against their will. 88% of the victims are women.
- Religious discrimination:Christians face state-sanctioned discrimination168 countries. Muslims face state-sanctioned discrimination in 121 countries.
- child poverty:Children from poor families appear in the USA10% loweraverage in test scores and face more mental health problems in childhood.
- Uneven performance:Rural and remote areas often suffer the most. For example, there is still71 remote indigenous communitiesin Canada without clean drinking water.
- Human trafficking:Vulnerable people are often taken from their homes illegally or under duress to work for low wages. There ismore than 20 millionVictims of human trafficking around the world today.
- Stereotypes:Gender, race, class and other stereotypes continue to work to oppress people with various social identities.
- Child labor:Hay160 million casualtiesof forced labor in today's world. This is often because families are too poor to send their children to school.
- Disability Discrimination:are people with disabilitiesmore likeThey become victims of discrimination and physical threats and are less likely to be taken seriously by the police.
- DigitalTo divide:Low access to technology widens the gap between rich and poor. Only 39% of people in Africa have access to the Internet, compared to 94% of people in the United States.
- Colonial practice:Indigenous peoples make up 5% of the world's population, but they make up15%of the world population in extreme poverty.
5 best examples
1. Social isolation
Social isolation is a pressing social problem for older people. It occurs when older people lose contact with their families or their families die and there are no friends or community members available to help.
It can cause older people to become depressed and, in the worst case scenario, not have the support to survive in their own homes. Some societies cope with this through free or subsidized assisted housing, while others lack adequate infrastructure and policies to alleviate social isolation.
Be aware that social isolation can occur at a younger age, particularly in people with disabilities, neurodivergents, and others who have difficulty interacting with the community.
Malnutrition is a major social problem in both developed and developing countries, threatening the security and functioning of these societies.
Many communities in the United States suffer from malnutrition because they live in food deserts: areas where there are no affordable grocery stores or other sources of healthy food nearby (Christian et al., 2020).
Another reason for malnutrition is an eating disorder such as anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder. Studies show that eating disorders are an ongoing problem among adolescents, particularly adolescent girls (Chamay-Weber et al., 2005).
3. Substance abuse
Substance abuse is a social problem that causes thousands of deaths in Canada and other parts of the world (Rehm et al., 2006).
It also harms society by causing health care costs, law enforcement costs, and loss of safety and productivity (Rehm et al., 2006).
Studies show that substance abuse interacts closely with other social problems, including lack of access to adequate mental health care and homelessness (Folsom et al., 2005). Society is increasingly treating this addiction as a mental health issue rather than a criminal issue to help people recover.
4. Housing crisis
The housing crisis refers to the lack of affordable, safe, and available housing and housing options in a region. It also includes more specific social problems, such as homelessness and housing insecurity.
Housing shortages have long been widespread in several cities in North America and Europe.
However, recent global health events have exacerbated the crisis with rising housing prices and rents in several countries, such as the United States and Turkey (Li & Zhang, 2021; Subaşı & Baycan, 2022).
As a social problem, the housing crisis negatively impacts society by amplifying existing socioeconomic inequalities and making disadvantaged communities more vulnerable.
Forced migration and displacement are global social problems that currently affect more than 89 million people around the world (UNHCR, 2022).
Every year, millions of people are forced to flee their countries of origin due to wars, conflicts, persecution or climate change (UNHCR, 2022).
As social issues, forced migration and displacement reflect the injustices faced by refugees and asylum seekers who face unsafe living conditions.
Thousands of asylum seekers lose their lives each year by drowning in the Mediterranean while trying to reach Europe (Statista, 2021).
In many cases, refugees continue to face challenges even after reaching a safe country. In this sense, displacement also interacts with other social problems such as racial discrimination.
Social problems refer to various types of problems and issues that negatively affect the security, freedom, harmony, and other values of a society.
Social problems differ from individual, physical, and natural problems because they have social roots. They are social conditions that harm or threaten society in some way. They can be solved through media and social measures.
Social problems may exist in a particular society or affect various societies around the world. Examples of current social problems are poverty, homelessness and displacement.
Social issues are important to study and understand, as they illustrate how different forms of social inequality can harm society in different ways.
Chamay-Weber, C., Narring, F., and Michaud, P.A. (2005). Partial eating disorders in adolescents: a review.youth health magazine,37(5), 416-426.
Christian, VJ, Miller, KR & Martindale, RG (2020). Food insecurity, malnutrition and the microbiome.current nutritional reports,9(4), 356-360.
Folsom DP, Hawthorne W, Lindamer L, Gilmer T, Bailey A, Golshan S, ... and Jeste DV (2005). Prevalence and risk factors for homelessness and utilization of mental health services in 10,340 patients with severe mental illness in a large public mental health system.american journal of psychiatry,162(2), 370-376.
Jamrozik, A., & Nocella, L. (1998).The sociology of social problems: theoretical perspectives and methods of intervention. Cambridge University Press.
Rehm, J., Baliunas, D., Brochu, S., Fischer, B., Gnam, W., Patra, J., … and Taylor, B. (2006). The costs of drug abuse in Canada 2002.
Additional features. (2021, September 17).Migrant deaths in the Mediterranean Sea 2021. Statistics. Obtained fromhttps://www.statista.com/statistik/1082077/tote-von-migranten-im-mittelmeer/
UNHCR. (2022).Global trends. UNHCR. Obtained fromhttps://www.unhcr.org/globaltrends
Sanam Vaghefi (candidate for doctorate)
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Sanam Vaghefi (BSc, MA) is a sociologist, educator and PhD student. He has several years of experience at the University of Victoria as a teaching assistant and trainer. His research on the sociology of migration and mental health has received essay awards from the Canadian Sociological Association and IRCC. He currently focuses on supporting students online through his academic tutoring and coaching company, Lingua Academic Coaching OU.
Chris Drew (PhD)
This article was peer reviewed and edited by Chris Drew (PhD). The verification process is ongoing.helpful teacherinvolves a PhD-level expert checking, editing, and contributing to articles. Reviewers ensure that all content reflects the consensus of academic experts and is supported by references to academic studies. dr. Drew has published more than 20 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals. She is a former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education and has a Ph.D. in Education from ACU.