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Social Problems - Syllabus

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Social Problems - Syllabus

Current Social Problems - Dept.. of Sociology - UNA

Social Problems - Sociology 220 - Rachel Kraus:

Syllabus - Introduction to Social Problems

Sociology 201/601: Social Problems and Solutions Professor: Karl T. Pfeiffer, Ph.D.

Syllabus - Social Problems, Kathleen Farell - Maxwell School-Syracuse Univ.
A skills-based course using a sociological perspective to critically analyze how social issues and problems are defined and addressed in society.

Problem areas include poverty, racism, sexism, and more. Small sections, writing intensive, interactive teaching. Meets Liberal Arts core basic and critical reflection requirements.

Syllabus - University of California Davis - Social Problems

This course will introduce you to the sociological study of social problems. The goal of the course is to learn how sociology analyzes social problems and to understand how they are socially constructed. We will explore such general questions as: How is an issue socially constructed into a social problem? How does the differential power of various social groups affect how some issues become constructed into social problems while others do not? What role do the media play in the social construction of social problems?

We will utilize such core sociological concepts as norms, deviance, class, race, ethnicity, and inequality when investigating historical and contemporary social problems. This approach is intended to reveal the social rather than individual roots of such problems, with the intention that such understanding will provide us with a more objective understanding of how to consider the social construction of solutions to social problems This focus will allow us to focus on one generic type of social problem in order to richly illustrate the constructionist persepctive in the sociological study of social problems.

Texts: Course Reader, "Dead Man Walking."

Week 1: Introduction: Sociology and Social Problems

Norms, Deviance, and Identities: The Diversity of Society

The Social Construction of Reality

The Social Construction of Social Problems

Lecture material: Spector and Kitsuse: Constructing Social Problems ;
Joel Best (ed) Images of Issues: Typifying Contemporary Social Problems. 2nd edition
Week 2: Claims-Making and Claims Makers: Social inequality and the "right to define" social problems
Socio-economic Inequality
The role of the media in problem-definition

READING: Currie: Crime and Work. From Elliot Currie, Confronting Crime: An American Challenge, New York,Pantheon, 1985.
Ross and Stains: The Politics of Analyzing Social Problems.

Parenti: "Who Controls the News? The Myths of Independence and Objectivity
Week 3: A Case Study: The Social Construction of Child-Victims.
READING: Chapters 1 and 8 from Joel Best, 1990: Threatened Children: Rhetoric and Concern about Child-Victims.
Week 4: In-Class Mid-Term: (25% of Grade)
Introduction to Unit 2 --
READING: Galliher, John and John Cross. 1983. "The Study of the Origins of Law." in Morals Legislation Without Morality: The Case of Nevada. Rutgers University Press. New Brunswick, N.J.
Lecture Material: Rafter, Nicole. 1990. "The Social Construction of Crime and Crime Control." Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency. Vol. 27, No. 4.

Unit 2: Drugs and Alcohol

Week 5:Alcohol Related Social Problems

READING: Gusfield, J. The Culture of Public Problems. (Chapter 1 of book of same name)
Lecture Material: Gusfield, J. The Culture of Public Problems. 1981. Chicago. University of Chicago Press
Week 6: Drug-Related Social Problems

READING: Eitzen and Baca Zinn. 1997. Chapter 17: "Drugs" From Social Problems. 7th edition.
Chambliss, William J. 1994. "Policing the Ghetto Underclass: The Politics of Law and Law Enforcement." Social Problems, Vol.41, No. 2.

Bourgois, Philippe. "Workaday World, Crack Economy." From The Nation, December4, 1995, Adapted from Philippe Bourgeois, In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Skolnick and Diiulo, Jr.: "Wild Pitch: ‘Three Strikes, You’re Out’ and Other Bad Calls on Crime." From Crisis in American Institutions. Tenth Edition. 1997.

Unit 3: Legal and Illegal Killing
Week 7: Murder and the Death Penalty (Essay 1 Due: 15% of Grade)

Dead Man Walking
Week 8: Murder and the Death Penalty
READING:Dead Man Walking
Unit 4: The Non-Construction of Social Problems
Week 9: Elite Deviance.(Essay 2 Due: 15% of Grade)

READING: Simon and Eitzen. 1990. Chapter 1: "The Nature of Elite Deviance," and Chapter 2: "Elite Deviance and the Higher Immorality." From Simon and Eitzen -Elite Deviance 3rd edition.
Week 10: Elite Deviance.
READING: Simon and Eitzen. 1990. Chapter 8: "Understanding Elite Deviance." From Simon and Eitzen -Elite Deviance 3rd edition.
Robert D. Bullard. May 1994. "Environmental Racism (excerpted from): Overcoming Racism in Environmental Decisionmaking, Environment.

Syllabus - Introduction to Social Problems
Professor: Judy M. Lucas Office: Walker Hall 305

TEXTBOOK: Macionis, John J. Social Problems. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice

COURSE DESCRIPTION: A theoretical and empirical analysis of selected major social problems confronting American society. Emphasis on deviant behavior and social disorganization.

A. Upon the completion of the course the student will demonstrate an understanding of the following concepts.

1. Contemporary social problems B the implications, causes and solutions

2. The theoretical perspectives on social problems

3. An understanding of the interconnectedness of policy and research

4. The ability to relate current issues found in the media concerning social problems and solutions and to be a more analytical observer of society

5. An understanding of individuals who are different, to be less judgmental, and to be helpful in eliminating the problems

6. The ability to research topics in the area of contemporary social problems via the Internet and to critically analyze the literature

7. The ability to retrieve and to respond to professor's assignments via various computer software.


Sociology: Studying Social Problems

Poverty and Wealth

Racial and Ethnic Inequality

Gender Inequality

Aging and Inequality

Crime and Criminal Justice



Alcohol and Other Drugs

Physical and Mental Health

Family Life


Urban Life

Population and Global Inequality

Technology and the Environment


TEXT: Sullivan: Introduction to Social Problems, Fifth Edition.

The Objective of the course is to provide a description and analysis of major social problems and issues in today’s world. Since new, unforeseen problems will undoubtedly emerge in coming years, an underlying goal is to provide students with the sociological perspective that will enable them to analyze future developments. Several broad theoretical approaches – structural-functionalist, conflict, symbolic interactionist, deviance - are described and are utilized in analyzing various types of social problems.


I. Introduction
A. The Nature of Social Problems

B. The Sociological Perspective

C. Sociological Research Methods

D. Evaluation Research

E. Theoretical Approaches

1. Structural-Functionalist

2. Conflict

3. Symbolic Interactionist

4. Deviance

a. Deviant Subcultures

b. Labeling

c. Anomie

II. Analysis of Specific Types of Social Problems & Issues

A. Crime & Juvenile Delinquency

B. Family Related Problems

C. Education & Literacy

D. Health & Illness – Physical & Mental

E. Poverty & World Economic Development

F. Urban Problems

G. Racial, Ethnic, & International Relations

H. Gender & Age Stratification

I. Substance Abuse & Alcoholism

J. Suicide, Euthanasia & Genetic Engineering

K. Global Population Problems

L. Environmental Problems

M. Violence, War & Terrorism

Soc. 2000-Social Problems Dr. Joseph McFalls
This course examines contemporary social issues and problems such as drug abuse, health problems, mental disorder, family problems, sexual variance, population problems, race and gender problems, poverty, crime, environmental degradation and resource depletion, and war. Special attention is paid to the social origin and nature of these problems and to the social policies which address them. Attention is also paid to the sociological patterns underlying public perceptions about them. The course includes a brief review of the principles of sociology, which enables a student to negotiate the course without first having taken the introductory sociology course (Soc. 1000).

Social Problems and Issues - Sociology 206
Instructor: Mark Edwards

Course Description:
This course will assist students in thinking sociologically about social issues over which there is much concern and confusion. The point of this class is not to advocate a particular solution to social problems. The goal of the course is to acquaint students with a constructive way of approaching, critiquing, and responding to problems faced by contemporary societies. Students will be asked to speak their mind and to present ideas in class. As a result of this class, students should have a better understanding of the discipline of sociology as well as greater facility with evaluating social problems.

Text: Introduction to Social Problems (5th Edition) by Thomas J. Sullivan

SOCIAL PROBLEMS - Sociology 220 - Spring 2003 - Rachel Kraus:

Social Problems is designed to expose students to diverse problems inflicting the United States, in addition to some major perspectives essential to studying these problems. In this class, we will discuss how issues become social problems and who they affect. We will focus on perceived causes of issues and their relationship to purposed solutions.
At the end of this semester, it is my hope that students will be able to understand that no social problem exists in a vacuum. All problems are related to multiple other issue. This reality makes solving social problems a great challenge, but one with which we will wrestle.


An Introduction to Social Problems (ch. 1)

A Sociological Approach to Social Problems
Defining Human Rights: What are they?

Sociological Theories

Two Major Sociological theories: Conflict and Functionalism
Social Constructionism and Symbolic Interactionism

Politics (ch. 2)

Capitalism Vs. Socialism

The US political system
The American media

The Economy and Work (ch. 7 and 14)
Extent of poverty
Causes of poverty

Gender (ch. 9)
Gender vs. sex
Learning gender
Reinforcing male dominance

Family (ch. 15)
Types of families
Work and the Family
Interpersonal violence

Education (ch. 16)
Funding Education
Religion in the Classroom
Working Towards Educational Equality

Race and Ethnicity (ch. 8)

Prejudice vs. discrimination

Health (ch. 17)
The health care crisis and AIDS
Possible Solutions: alternative medicine
Defining and the extent of crime

Crime and Terrorism (ch. 12 and 18)
Types of crime
Global religious terrorism

SOCIOLOGY 201/601: Social Problems and Solutions - Fall 2004
Professor: Karl T. Pfeiffer, Ph.D. -

Required Reading:
Finsterbusch, Kurt, ed. 2005. Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Social Issues, 13th Edition, Guilford, Connecticut: Dushkin/McGraw-Hill. (ISBN#: 0-07-296875-3)

Course Description: This course explores the application of sociological perspective, theory, and methodology to the study of social problems. The goal of this course is for students to use the sociology of social problems for improving critical analysis skills and problem solving abilities. Please note that this course includes an optional community-service learning component. All students are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity for direct, job-related experience in agencies that address social problems and related issues.
Objective 1: Demonstrate a basic understanding of sociological perspective, theories, and research methodologies applied to the study of social problems.
Objective 2: Demonstrate the ability to apply this knowledge in critical analysis and problem solving.

Course Description
The goal of this course is to develop a sociological imagination about contemporary social problems. We will focus on current social problems in the U.S., but other countries will be used to exemplify different definitions of and solutions to the same issues. Special attention will be paid to the power struggle between different groups, such as activists, the media, policy makers, and politicians, to create various definitions of a single issue. We will review and discuss several contemporary social problems including some that are subject to current political and policy debates. These include low-wage work, welfare, crime and deviance, race and gender-related social problems, as well as health care and drugs. By means of reading, lecture, and discussion, we will learn about several theories and concepts sociologists use to explain social problems.

Course Introduction (no readings)

The Sociology of Social Problems (28 pages)
Mills, C.W.: “The Sociological Imagination” (5)
Best, J.: “The Numbers Game: Statistics as Claims” (13)
Gray, H.: “Popular Music as a Social Problem: A Social History of Claims Against Popular
Music” (10)
Deviance (33 pages)
Becker, H.: “Outsiders” (3)
Erikson, K. T.: “On the Sociology of Deviance” (6)
Smith, A. B. et. al.: “Deviance as Crime, Sin, and Poor Taste” (9)
Goode, E.: “Enter Moral Panics” (9)

Drugs (23 pages)
Becker, H.: “Becoming a Marihuana User” (7)
Reinarman, C.: “The Crack Attack: Politics and Media in America’s Latest Drug Scare” (16)
Crime (28 page)
Donziger, S.: “Crime and Policy” (15)
Yeoman, B.: ”Steel Town Lockdown” (7)
“The Secret of Japan’s Safe Streets”, from The Economist (6)

Social Problems of Inequality – Gender (17 pages)
Mceachern, D. et. al.: “Domestic Violence Among the Navajo” (8)
Hesse-Biber, S.: “Women, Thinness and Eating Disorders: A Sociocultural Problem” (9)
The Gender of Social Problems (37 pages)
Stanko, E.: “Challenging the Problem of Men’s Individual Violence” (13)
Pollock et. al.: “The Continuing Myth of the Violent Female Offender” (24)

Pornography (21 pages)
McElroy, W.: “Radical Feminism’s Specific Accusations Against Pornography” (21)
Teenage Pregnancy (21 pages)
Anderson, E. “Sex Codes and Family Life Among Poor Inner-City Youths” (12)
Luker, K. “The Politics of Teenage Pregnancy” (9)

Social Problems of Inequality II – Race and Ethnicity (23 pages)
Omi, M. et. al.: “Racial Formation” (9)
Faw, B.: “Katrina Exposes New Orleans’ Deep Poverty” (1)
Wellman, D. et. al.: “Portraits of White Racism” (10)
“Young Sisters Spread Racist Hate” ABC News. (3)

The Race of Social Problems I (20 pages)
Fainstein, N.: “Black Ghettoization and Social Mobility” (11)
Li, J.: “Exploring Asian Americans” (9)
Education (17)
Traub, J.: “What No School Can Do” (5)
Kozol, J.: “American Education: Savage Inequalities” (7)
Lascano, M.: “The Long and Continuing Problem of Bilingual Education” (5)

Social Problems of Inequality III – Class (26 pages)
Iceland, J.: “Poverty in the United States” (11)
Handler, J.: “The Problem of Poverty, the Problem of Work” (12)
Johnston, D.C. : “Richest Are Leaving Even the Rich Far Behind” (3)
Work (16)
Norton, R.: “Creative Destruction in American Manufacturing” (11)
Larson, J.: “Temporary Workers Are Here to Stay” (5)

Welfare (24)
Piven, F. F.: “Welfare and Work” (16)
Edin, K. et. al.: “Making Ends Meet on a Welfare Check” (8)
Environment (21)
Foster, J. B.: “ Let Them Eat Pollution….” (4)
Bullard, R.: “Environmental Blackmail in Minority Communities” (8)
Hawken, P.: “Natural Capitalism” (9)

Social Problems of Globalization (11 pages)
The Dollars and Sense Collective: “The ABCs of the Global Economy” (6)
Elliott, L.: “The Lost Decade” (2)
Preston, L.: “The Environment for Development” (3)
The Globalization of Social Problems (23 pages)