Social issue

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"Social problems" redirects here. For the journal, see Social Problems (journal).

A social issue (also called a social problem or a social illness) refers to an issue that influences and is opposed by a considerable number of individuals within a society. It is often the consequence of factors extending beyond an individual's control and local geographical environment. In some cases, a social issue is the source of a conflicting opinion on the grounds of what is perceives as a morally just personal life or societal order. Different societies have different perceptions, and "normal" behavior in one society may be a significant social issue in another society. Social issues are distinguished from economic issues; however, some issues (such as immigration) have both social and economic aspects. There are also issues that don't fall into either category, such as wars.

In Rights of Man and Common Sense, Thomas Paine addresses man's duty to "allow the same rights to others as we allow ourselves". The failure to do so causes the birth of a social issue.

Personal issues versus social issues[edit]

Personal issues are those that individuals deal with themselves and within a small range of their peers and relationships.[1] On the other hand, social issues attribute to values cherished by widespread society.[1] For example, the US unemployment rate of 7.8 percent[2] as of October 2012 is a social issue.

The line between a personal issue and a public issue may be subjective; however, when a large enough sector of society is affected by an issue, it becomes a social issue. Although one person being fired is not a social issue, the repercussions of 13 million people being fired is likely to generate social issues.

Valence issues versus position issues[edit]

A valence issue is typically a social problem that is uniformly agreed upon.[3] These types of issues generally generate a widespread consensus and provoke little resistance from the public. An example of a valence issue would be incest or child abuse.[4] Unlike a valence issue, a position issue typically outlines a social problem in which the popular opinion among society is divided.[4] An example of a position issue is vegetarianism or veganism, due to the lack of widespread consensus from the public.

List of social issues[edit]

Social stratification[edit]

The caste system in India resulted in most of the oppressed Untouchables for the past 3,000 years.[citation needed] The caste system was recently banned by the United Kingdom,[5] and the United States is also planning to ban it.[6]

Economic issues[edit]

Unemployment rates vary by region, gender, educational attainment, and ethnic group.

In most countries (including the developed countries), many people are poor and depend on welfare. In 2007 in Germany, one in six children depended on welfare. That is up from only one in seventy-five in 1965.[7]

Social disorganization[edit]

So-called "problem neighbourhoods" exist in many countries. These neighbourhoods tend to have a high drop-out rate from secondary school, and children growing up in these neighbourhoods have a low probability of going to college compared to children who grow up in other neighbourhoods. Abuse of alcohol and drugs is common in these neighbourhoods. Often these neighbourhoods were founded out of best intentions.[8]

Age and the life course[edit]

Main article: Agism

Throughout the life course, there are social problems associated with different ages. One such social problem is age discrimination. An example of age discrimination is when a particular person is not allowed to do something or is treated differently based on age.

Inequality[edit]

Main article: Social inequality

Inequality is "the state or quality of being unequal".[9] Inequality is the root of a number of social problems that occur when things such as gender, race, and age may affect the way a person is treated. A past example of inequality as a social problem is slavery in the United States. Africans brought to America were often enslaved and mistreated, and did not share the same rights as the white population of America (for example, they were not allowed to vote).

Education and public schools[edit]

Education is arguably the most important factor in a person's success in society. As a result, social problems can be raised by the unequal distribution of funding between public schools, such as that seen in the United States.[10] The weak organizational policy in place and the lack of communication between public schools and the federal government has begun to have major affects on the future generation. Public schools that do not receive high standardized test scores are not being funded sufficiently to actually reach the maximum level of education their students should be receiving.[11]

Work and occupations[edit]

Social problems in the workplace include occupational stress, theft, sexual harassment, wage inequality, gender inequality, racial inequality, health care disparities, and many more.

Environmental racism[edit]

Main article: Environmental racism

Environmental racism exists when a particular place or town is subject to problematic environmental practices due to the racial and class components of that space. In general, the place or town is representative of lower income and minority groups. Often, there is more pollution, factories, dumping, etc. that produce environmental hazards and health risks which are not seen in more affluent cities.

Abortion[edit]

Main article: Abortion

Abortion is split between individuals who are either pro-choice or pro-life. Pro-choice people believe that abortion is a right. They believe that women have that right and shouldn't be prevented from exercising that right by governments. Pro-life people believe that person-hood begins at conception and they believe that abortion is the wrongful killing of an innocent person.[12]

Social issues by country[edit]

United States[edit]

Health and medicine[edit]

Human rights issues[edit]

Crime and the justice system[edit]

The federal prison system has been unable to keep up with the steady increase of inmates over the past few years, causing major overcrowding. In the year 2012, the overcrowding level was 41 percent above "rated capacity" and was the highest level since 2004.[13]

The federal prison not only has overcrowding, but also has been the center of controversy in the U.S regarding the conditions in which the prisoners are treated.

Hate crimes[edit]

Main article: Hate crime

Hate crimes are a social problem in the United States because they directly marginalize and target specific groups of people or specific communities based on their identities. Hate crimes can be committed as the result of hate-motivated behavior, prejudice, and intolerance due to sexual orientation, gender expression, biological sex, ethnicity, race, religion, disability, or any other identity.[14] Hate crimes are a growing issue especially in school settings because of the young populations that exist. The majority of victims and perpetrators are teenagers and young adults, the population that exists within educational institutions. Hate crimes can result in physical or sexual assaults or harassment, verbal harassment, robbery, or even in death.[15] The lasting effects of hate crimes can result in mental illness and in disorders such as depression, suicidal thoughts and behaviors, etc.

Advertising junk food to children[edit]

The food industry has been accused by some number of people of promoting childhood obesity and ill-health by specifically targeting the child demographic in the marketing of unhealthy food products. The food products marketed often are deemed unhealthy due to their high calorie, high fat, and high sugar contents.[16]

In the advertisements, food companies are blamed for adjusting their ads to make seem more appealing, e.g. bigger, fresher, cleaner, smarter and much more.

Some common methods of junk food advertising include:

In 2005, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (IOM) released a report requested by Congress that evaluated the influence and nature of food and beverage marketing practices on American children and adolescents. “The report concluded that food and beverage marketing influences the diets and health of children and adolescents; current marketing practices create an environment that puts young people's health at risk; companies and marketers have underutilized their resources and creativity to market a healthful diet; industry leadership and sustained, multisectoral, and integrated efforts are required; and that current public policy institutions lacked the authority to address emerging marketing practices that influence young people's diets.”[17]

According to Christian and the PHA website, the obesity epidemic in children and adolescents in the U.S. reflects changes in society: The article suggests unhealthy eating choices are due to an increase of sedentary activity (e.g., children watching too much television and playing computer games) and the influence of the media in causing children to eat unhealthy food choices.[18]

In the view of some opponents, if governments took action to prevent the marketing of unhealthy food products, they would seriously reduce the prevalence of obesity and its serious health consequences, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. As part of the IOM food marketing report, 10 recommendations were made to both the public and private sectors. One of the recommendations was that the government partner with the private sector to “create a long-term, multifaceted, and financially sustained social marketing program to support parents, caregivers, and families to promote a healthful diet.”[19] First lady Michelle Obama and Partnership for a Healthier America have proposed new rules that would limit junk food marketing in public schools.[20]

Obesity[edit]

Obesity is a prevalent social problem in today's society, with rates steadily increasing. According to the Weight Control Information Network, since the early 1960s, the prevalence of obesity among adults more than doubled, increasing from 13.4 to 35.7 percent in U.S. adults age 20 and older.[21] In addition, today two in three adults are considered overweight or obese, and one in six children aged 6–19 are considered obese.

Hunger[edit]

Media propaganda[edit]

Mass media may use propaganda as a means to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view, or to maintain the viewer's attention. Who owns a media outlet often determines things such as the types of social problems that that outlet presents, how long that outlet airs those problems, and how dramatically that outlet presents those problems. The American media is often biased towards one or the other end of the political spectrum; that is, many media outlets have been accused either of being too conservative or of being too liberal.

Alcohol and other drugs[edit]

Drugs are at times the cause of social problems. Drugs such as cocaine and opiates offer very limited positive effects and are extremely addictive. Many users of such drugs will commit crimes in order to obtain their fix. Occasionally, drugs such as methamphetamine will cause deviant and violent behavior, which would be classified as a social problem.[22]

Drunk driving is on the rise and is the number two cause of accidental deaths, it is a cause of around 17,000 deaths each year. All but 9 states in USA have adopted the Administrative License Revocation where if you are caught drinking and driving and found guilty you will lose your license for a full year. This is a step that is being taken in order to try to avoid the occurrence of this social problem.[23]

Other issues[edit]

Other issues include education, lack of literacy and numeracy, school truancy, violence and bullying in schools, religious intolerance, immigration, political and religious extremism, discrimination of all sorts, the role of women, aging populations, gender issues, unplanned parenthood, and teenage pregnancy.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b C. Wright Mills: The Sociological Imagination
  2. ^ DEWAN, SHAILA. 2012. NY Times
  3. ^ "valence issue: Definition from". Answers.com. Retrieved 2013-03-08. 
  4. ^ a b Nelson, Barbara J (1986-04-15). Making an Issue of Child Abuse: Political Agenda Setting for Social Problems. ISBN 9780226572017. 
  5. ^ "The UK Parliament outlaws Caste-Based Discrimination"
  6. ^ "Resolution on India's untouchables in US"
  7. ^ Report des Kinderhilfswerkes: Jedes sechste Kind lebt in Armut
  8. ^ Wolfgang Uchatius: "Armut in Deutschland - Die neue Unterschicht". Die Zeit. 10th March 2005
  9. ^ "Inequality | Define Inequality at Dictionary.com". Dictionary.reference.com. Retrieved 2013-03-08. 
  10. ^ Bruce J. Biddle and David C. Berliner. "Educational Leadership:Beyond Instructional Leadership:Unequal School Funding in the United States". Ascd.org. Retrieved 2013-03-08. 
  11. ^ Scott, Dylan (2012-08-23). "Biggest Problem for Public Education? Lack of Funding, Poll Says". Governing.com. Retrieved 2013-03-08. 
  12. ^ "Abortion ProCon.org". Abortion ProCon.org. Retrieved 2013-03-08. 
  13. ^ Posted: 09/14/2012 6:51 pm Updated: 09/15/2012 10:15 pm (2012-09-14). "Overcrowding In Federal Prisons Harms Inmates, Guards: GAO Report". Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2013-03-08. 
  14. ^ National Crime Prevention Council
  15. ^ Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN)
  16. ^ Barnes, B. (2007). Limiting ads of junk food to children. The New York Times, 2.
  17. ^ Kraak, Vivica I., Mary Story, and Ellen A. Wartella, “Government and School Progress to Promote a Healthful Diet to American Children and Adolescents: A Comprehensive Review of the Available Evidence.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine 42:3, (Mar. 2012). 250-262.
  18. ^ “Targeting the Obesity Epidemic in Children and adolescents: Research Evidence for Practice.” Journal of Pediatric Nursing 26.5 (Oct. 2011), 503-506. Print
  19. ^ Kraak, Vivica I., Mary Story, and Ellen A. Wartella, “Government and School Progress to Promote a Healthful Diet to American Children and Adolescents: A Comprehensive Review of the Available Evidence.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine 42:3, (Mar. 2012). 250-262.
  20. ^ http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2014/02/25/michelle-obama-proposes-ban-on-in-school-junk-food-marketing/
  21. ^ "Overweight and Obesity Statistics". Weight Control Information Network. Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  22. ^ "Cocaine". Erowid.org. Retrieved 2013-03-25. 
  23. ^ "Social Problems in American Society | Reader's Digest". Rd.com. 2013-01-15. Retrieved 2013-03-08. 

External links[edit]

  • "Berlin blues" relatively long article by The Guardian on the current economical problems and mood in Germany shortly before the general elections (September 15, 2005)