09 Jan • How does this problem relate to other social problems we have discussed?
As a final assignment for this course, you will analyze a social problem of your choice. The goal of your research will be a 2 (at most 3) page analysis. You will need to look at both popular and scholarly work on the subject. Preferably, choose a social problem that you have not already covered in a previous assignment.SELECT ONE OF THE FOLLOWING OPTIONS FOR YOUR SOCIAL PROBLEM ANALYSIS: Option 1Select a social problem and write about the following:
How has the social problem you have chosen come to be defined as a “problem”?
What are the causal factors (social, political, economic and/or cultural) that have led to the social problem’s definition as a social problem?
Why has the social problem you have chosen remained in or fallen out of the public spotlight?
Option 2Select a social problem and write about it from a cross-cultural or historical perspective:
Explain the diverse reactions to similar social conditions across selected cultural and social settings.
Why is a particular social phenomenon considered a social problem in one setting, but not in another? Compare two different countries/cultures or compare different historical eras within the same country/culture.
Option 3Select a social phenomenon or condition and analyze or argue for why this has not become a social problem.
What are the causal forces that have kept a social phenomenon from becoming defined as a social problem?
Sample topic ideas:How did child abuse come to be defined as a social problem in the U.S.?Why was marijuana illegal for such a significant period of time, but not alcohol?When or why children born out of wedlock became a social problem?Why is the physical punishment of children considered a problem in some settings but not in others? Why do some cultures define FGM as a social problem and others see it as a beneficial practice?
Although the topic for the paper is very open-ended, you must develop a central and unifying argument for your analytical write up. Also, you need to support arguments with evidence to show how and why you are reaching a particular conclusion. Unsubstantiated arguments will not strengthen your project.
Your main emphasis for this project will be the causal factors that have led to the definition of a particular condition as a social problem or not. The main focus of this analysis is to understand why a society or a group considers a certain condition or situation to be problematic or not. Although you may uncover reasons that lead to the condition itself, that is not the primary focus.
CENTRAL QUESTIONS THAT CAN BE USED TO STRUCTURE OR ORGANIZE YOUR ANALYSIS:
(Hint: use the course textbook’s social process of social construction concepts, diagrams, and examples to structure your write up.)
The following are central questions that you will help you explain the causal factors and the rise/fall of your social problem. These are guiding ideas for your write ups. You should consider all of the following applicable questions as long as they pertain to the option you selected, but not all of the following need appear in your writing.
• What is the history of the social problem? Has it always been a public concern? Has its definition changed
over time? What are the competing definitions? Is there a consensus that it is in fact a social problem?
• What agents (politicians, advocacy groups, nonprofit agencies, etc.) first defined the situation as a social
problem? What agents have kept it in the national spotlight? Have any groups challenged the definition of it as
a social problem?
• What has been the role of the media? How has media coverage fluctuated during the history of the social
• How is the problem related to the social structure? How is the issue of power connected to the social problem?
What are the power relationships between those defining the problem and those directly affected?
• What has been the role of the state in defining, controlling, or attempting to eliminate the problem? What have
been the consequences of the state’s intervention or neglect?
• What public debates surround the issue? Who are the competing sides? What are their moral and empirical
claims? What does each side see as the problem’s solution?
• What theoretical perspective from class best explains your social problem? What cannot be answered by this perspective?
• How does this problem relate to other social problems we have discussed?
• What are the popular misconceptions and myths surrounding the social problem? How have these misconceptions
influenced the natural history of the social problem and its popularity?
• 12 pt font.—courier or Times New Roman
• Although it is relatively brief, your analysis should have an introduction, a central argument and a conclusion.
• Papers must be well-cited BUT DO NOT NEED a works cited page. Choose a standard style guide (Chicago, APA, ASA) and be consistent throughout the paper. Citing other people’s research and ideas is not only ethical, but in addition when you cite other people’s research you help the reader understand why you are reaching a particular conclusion.
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