What is a Social Problem?
“A social problem is any condition or behavior that has negative consequences for large numbers of people and that is generally recognized as a condition or behavior that needs to be addressed.”
- The definition of a social problem has both an objective component and a subjective component. The objective component involves empirical evidence of the negative consequences of a social condition or behavior, while the subjective component involves the perception that the condition or behavior is indeed a problem that needs to be addressed.
- The social constructionist view emphasizes that a condition or behavior does not become a social problem unless there is a perception that it should be considered a social problem.
- The natural history of a social problem consists of four stages: emergence and claims making, legitimacy, renewed claims making, and alternative strategies.
What is Social Problem Solving?
Social problem solving occurs when an individual or an organization attempts to solve a social problem. This process has several steps:
- Recognize that there is a problem.
- Define the problem.
- Brainstorm solutions to the problem.
- Choose a method to solve the problem.
- Implement the method chosen.
- Assess the outcome.
- Repeat, if necessary until the problem is solved.
Paraphrased from “Teaching Students to Solve Social Problems ” from the UF College of Education
Ways to Solve Social Problems
There are three primary ways that our society attempts to solve social problems.
- Government: Many government programs have been created to solve social problems. Programs like FDR’s New Deal, food stamps, medicare, welfare, and more are all examples of the government trying to solve a social problem. These programs are paid for by tax dollars and are run by government agencies.
- Non-Profit organizations: Non-profit organizations are generally founded by individuals who see a need in their communities and decide to do something about it. They rely on volunteers and donations to help them enact their solutions.
- Business: While business as a solution to a social problem might seem odd to some, many businesses are changing the world and making a profit at the same time. Because they do not rely on donations or volunteer work, some believe that business could be a better way to approach some social problems.
- Michael Porter “The Case for Letting Business Solve Social Problems”