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Conflicting Interests

Readings in Social Problems and Inequality

Edited by Robert Heiner

Publication Date - 05 November 2009

ISBN: 9780195375077

320 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

A concise, affordable, cutting-edge collection of articles that takes a critical constructionist approach to social problems


Featuring twenty-six in-depth and engaging articles, Conflicting Interests: Readings in Social Problems and Inequality is a unique social problems reader in which the majority of the selections reflect the conflict perspective. This approach views social problems as the consequence of social and economic inequalities and therefore encourages students to critically analyze American public policy responses to social problems.

Conflicting Interests is organized into five sections: Thinking about Social Problems, The Economics of Inequality, Social Inequalities, Problems of the Family, Crime and Drugs, and Problems of the Environment. Several articles address the contemporary economic crisis and the role that the media plays in constructing social problems. In addition, many of the essays describe public policies in countries outside of the United States, providing students with alternative, cross-cultural perspectives and solutions to social problems. Each section begins with an introduction that briefly summarizes the articles and shows how they are interrelated. Each essay concludes with critical thinking questions that are designed to stimulate class discussion and to help students carefully evaluate the issues.

A thought-provoking and accessible supplement for social problems courses, Conflicting Interests can also be used in courses on inequality or social stratification. It is an ideal supplement to editor Robert Heiner's textbook, Social Problems: An Introduction to Critical Constructionism, Third Edition.


"The primary strength [of this book] is the focus on a critical constructionist approach. This sets this text apart from the wide body of work that already exists. Furthermore, this perspective seems to strike an important cord in students, and once they begin to grasp the underpinnings of this paradigm, it dramatically alters the way in which they view the world around them. This approach is also most effective at enabling faculty to teach critical thinking skills, which is something that I am constantly striving to do."--Joan Brehm, Illinois State University

"I've been waiting for Robert Heiner to put together a book like this for a long time. I've used his Social Problems: An Introduction to Critical Constructionism many times in my courses, always with good effect. I would most definitely adopt this reader."--Scott Schaffer, University of Western Ontario

"This is an exciting idea. The articles chosen work beautifully together to give the reader an excellent overview of the constructionist/conflict approach to social problems. I will adopt this reader as soon as it is available."--Nicole Grant, Northern Kentucky University

Table of Contents

    Part One: Thinking about Social Problems
    1. The Sociological Imagination: The Promise, C. Wright Mills
    2. Constructing Social Problems, Malcolm Spector and John I. Kitsuse
    3. An Introduction to the Sociology of Social Problems, Robert Heiner
    4. The Problem of Journalism, Robert W. McChesney
    Part Two: The Economics of Inequality
    5. The Governing Class, Jeff Faux
    6. The New Economic Insecurity, Jacob S. Hacker
    7. The Copenhagen Consensus, Robert Kuttner
    8. Global Inequality and the Challenges of Reducing Extreme Poverty, Joan Ferrante
    Part Three: Social Inequalities
    9. Women and Wealth: A Primer, Amy Gluckman
    10. The Payoff from Women's Rights, Isobel Coleman
    11. Doubly Divided: The Racial Wealth Gap, Meizhu Liu
    12. School Finance: Inequality Persists, Michael Engel
    13. Double Standards in Health Care, James W. Russell
    Part Four: Problems of the Family
    14. The Way We Wish We Were: Defining the Family Crisis, Stephanie Coontz
    15. Striking a Balance, Robert W. Drago
    16. More than Welcome: Families Come First in Sweden, Brittany Shahmehri
    17. Life without Children, David Popenoe and Barbara Defoe Whitehead
    Part Five: Crime and Drugs
    18. The Implicit Ideology of Criminal Justice, Jeffrey Reiman
    19. Schools and Prisons: How Far Have We Come since Brown v. Board of Education?, Marc Mauer and Ryan S. King
    20. The Growth of Incarceration in the Netherlands, Robert Heiner
    21. First, Reduce Harm, Vince Beiser
    22. Rx Drugs, 60 Minutes
    Part Six: Problems of the Environment
    23. Reversal of Fortune, Bill McKibben
    24. The Establishment vs. the Environment, Robert Heiner
    25. The Wealth of the Poor: Managing Ecosystems to Fight Poverty, World Resources Institute
    26. Differential Vulnerabilities: Environmental and Economic Inequality and Government Responses to Unnatural Disasters, Robert D. Bullard

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