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Social Problems

Finding Solutions, Taking Action

Author Robert McNamara

Publication Date - 01 September 2021

ISBN: 9780190056353

528 pages
7 1/2 x 9 1/4 inches

In Stock

Providing students with the tools to understand and address the world around them, Social Problems: Finding Solutions, Taking Actions is a lively, up-to-date exposition of social problems.


This new social problems book emphasizes how students can better understand social problems if they have a strong foundation in sociological theory. Ideal for students who are taking their first sociology course, it also presents a basic introduction to the discipline. The book highlights the social construction of social problems by taking a comparative approach - how are the problems we identify in US society understood and dealt with in other parts of the world? Finally, there is a heavy emphasis on solutions to social problems, providing students with the tools to think critically about how social problems can be effectively addressed.


  • Chapter 1, "What Is Sociology and Why Should I Care?", introduces sociology as a discipline, serving as a refresher for students who have taken an introductory course, and a brief overview of important key topics and concepts for those who have not
  • Application of theory includes a section in each chapter that clearly explains how a social problem might be analyzed depending on the lens applied: functionalism, conflict theory, feminist theory, symbolic interactionism, and critical race theory, among others
  • "Global Perspectives" features describe how another country approaches a particular social problem. For example, Chapter 4 (Why Are There So Many Poor People? Poverty and Inequality) examines Finland's experiment with a universal basic income.
  • The "What Works" and "So What Can I Do?" sections look at programs that have successfully addressed some aspect of a social problem. Each chapter ends with an appeal to that hope, suggesting ways in which students can act on a micro scale to begin to alleviate some aspect of society that could function more effectively or compassionately.
  • In the News Weekly Quiz is a resource for both instructors and students that provides current news articles on a weekly basis, along with low-stakes assessments that ensure student engagement and encourage students to connect the article to what they are learning in their course
  • The Oxford Learning Link (OLL) for Social Problems contains a variety of materials to aid in teaching: Instructor's Resource Manual, Test Banks, Media & Data Literacy Exercises, Pop Culture Guide and Lecture Slides

About the Author(s)

Robert McNamara is professor of criminal justice and former Associate Provost and Dean of the Graduate College at The Citadel.


"Social Problems is unique in that it includes a discussion of past and current solutions to each social problem. Students are interested in solving problems, not just reading about them." -- Diane W. Lindley, lUniversity of Mississippi

"Social Problems is practical/pragmatic; empathetic and in-tune to students' approach to learning. This text provides hope and optimism and empowerment for students." -- John Mitrano, lCentral Connecticut State University

"I love the accessible writing style in Social Problems. This text is a global and solutions-based approach to teaching social problems." -- Amy Ruedisueli, lTidewater Community College

"Social Problems is comprehensive, with a strong theoretical foundation that encourages a global perspective. The author's writing style demonstrates consistency and fosters critical thinking via the discussion of possible solutions." -- J. Russell Willis, lGrambling State

Table of Contents

    What Is Sociology and Why Should I Care?
    What is Sociology?
    Stories as Tools
    The Sociological Perspective
    The Sociological Imagination
    What's Theory Got to Do with It?
    Structural Functionalism
    Conflict Theory
    Symbolic Interactionism
    Other Important Sociological Theories
    Feminist Theory
    Critical Theory
    Critical Race Theory
    Queer Theory
    Postmodern Theory
    How Sociologists Do Their Thing: Research Methods
    Experimental Methods
    Qualitative Research
    Ethnography/Participant Observation
    Using Research Methods in the Real World: Does This Program Really Work?
    What Is a Social Problem?
    The Evolution of a Social Problem
    Key Terms
    Discussion Questions
    Why Is Crime Always in the News? Crime and Interpersonal Violence
    The Extent of Crime in the United States
    Crime Trends
    Are People Afraid of Crime?
    Why Is Crime Bad?
    The Public's Role in the Crime Problem
    Types of Crime
    Violent Crimes
    Property Crimes
    Public Order Crime
    Juvenile Crime
    Occupational (White Collar) and Corporate Crime
    What Roles Does Sociological Theory Play In Understanding Crime?
    Anomie and Strain Theory
    Conflict Theory and Crime
    Symbolic Interactionism and Crime
    The Criminal Justice System and its Impact on Crime
    The Police
    What Works? Effective Solutions to Crime
    Big Brothers/Big Sisters Program
    Perry Preschool Project
    Hot Spots Policing
    Popular But Less Effective Programs
    Juvenile Boot Camps
    Weed and Seed
    So What Can I Do?
    Key Terms
    Discussion Questions
    YOU MAKE THE CALL: School Shootings
    GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES: Why is Crime in Japan so Low Compared to the United States?
    Are More People Getting High? Drug and Alcohol Abuse
    Why Alcohol and Drug Abuse are Social Problems
    Tobacco Use and Abuse
    Lawsuits and the Tobacco Industry
    Smokeless Tobacco
    Alcohol Use and Abuse
    Extent of Use
    Driving Under the Influence
    Treatment of Alcohol Abuse
    Behavioral Treatments
    Drug Use and Abuse
    The Opioid Epidemic
    Marijuana Use and Abuse
    Society's Response to Drug Abuse: The War on Drugs
    Sociological Theory and Alcohol and Drug Abuse
    Functionalism and Drug Abuse
    Conflict Theory and Drug Abuse
    Symbolic Interactionism and Drug Abuse
    Critical Race Theory and Drug Abuse
    What Works? Effective Solutions To Address Alcoholism And Drug Addiction
    Tobacco Use: Breaking The Habit
    Opioid Addiction: Combining Approaches
    Alcohol Abuse: Limiting Access
    So What Can I Do?
    Key Terms
    Discussion Questions
    YOU MAKE THE CALL: Marijuana and Enforcement Disparity
    GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES: Marijuana Use in Other Countries
    Why Are There So Many Poor People? Poverty and Inequality
    The Extent of Poverty in the United States
    The American Way and the American Dream: Middle Class Perceptions of Poverty and the Poor
    Social Class/Social Inequality in the United States
    Personal Attribution
    Systemic Attribution
    Defining Poverty
    The Poverty Line
    Profiling the Poor
    Children and the Poor
    Homelessness: The Other Side of Poverty
    A Profile of the Homeless
    Sociological Theory and Poverty
    Functionalism and Poverty
    Conflict Theory and Poverty
    Cultural Explanations
    Postmodernism and Poverty
    How We Help the Poor: Welfare and Social Policy
    How Did We Get Here?
    What Works? Effective Solutions to Poverty
    So What Can I Do?
    Key Terms
    Discussion Questions
    YOU MAKE THE CALL: Law Enforcement and the Homeless
    GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES: Finland's Universal Basic Income
    Do You Want Fries with That? Work and the Economy
    The Nature of Economic Systems
    Traditional Economy
    Command Economy
    Market Economy
    Mixed Economy
    Comparing Capitalism and Socialism
    The Best of Both Worlds? Democratic Socialism
    Work and Employment in the United States
    The Impact of Globalization
    The Impact of Economic Changes on Workers
    Automation and Artificial Intelligence in the Workplace
    A Living Wage
    The Gig Economy and Part-time Workers
    Unemployment and Underemployment
    Unions and the Protection of Workers
    The Underground Economy
    Sociological Theory, Work, and the Economy
    Functionalism and Work
    Conflict Theory and Work
    Symbolic Interactionism and Work
    What Works? Effective Solutions to Workplace Problems
    Flextime and Telecommuting
    So What Can I Do?
    Key Terms
    Discussion Questions
    GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES: Social Democracy in Action
    Can't We All Just Get Along? Racial and Ethnic Inequalities
    Definitional Matters
    Race and Ethnicity
    The Social Construction of Race
    Minority Groups
    Prejudice, Discrimination, and Racism
    White Privilege and White Fragility
    Is the Problem about Race or Social Class?
    Institutional Discrimination and Systemic Racism
    Employment and Income
    Criminal Justice
    Health Care and Illness
    Sociological Theory and Race
    Functionalism and Race
    Conflict Theory and Race
    Critical Race Theory
    Symbolic Interactionism and Race
    What Works? Effective Solutions to Prejudice, Discrimination, and Racism
    Affirmative Action
    Workplace Diversity Training
    Media Campaigns
    So What Can I Do?
    Key Terms
    Discussion Questions
    YOU MAKE THE CALL: Policing While White
    GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES: Racial Tolerance
    Can I Stay A Little Longer? Immigration and Refugees
    An Overview of Immigration in the United States
    History of Immigration in the United States
    The Extent of Immigration in the United States Today
    Immigrants: A Profile
    Immigration and Politics
    Public Opinion and Immigration
    Immigrants and the Criminal Justice System
    Federal, State, and Local Policies and Immigration
    Sociological Theory and Immigration
    Functionalism and Immigration
    Conflict Theory and Immigration
    Symbolic Interactionism and Immigration
    Critical Race Theory and Immigration
    What Works? Effective Solutions to Address Problems of Immigration
    So What Can I Do?
    Key Terms
    Discussion Questions
    YOU MAKE THE CALL: Families at the Border
    GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES: The Refugee Crisis in Yemen
    Does Education Really Lead to a Better Life? Educational Inequalities
    An Overview of Education in the United States
    History of Public Education in the United States
    The Impact of Educational Inequalities in the United States
    Race and Educational Inequality
    Challenges to Public Education
    No Child Left Behind Act
    School Violence and School Shootings
    Zero-Tolerance Policies and Academic Achievement
    How Do Us and International Schools Compare?
    Why Do Some Public Schools Fail?
    Structural Factors
    Cultural and Individual Factors
    Responses to Challenges in Public Education
    Charter Schools
    School Vouchers
    Home Schooling
    English First Movement
    The Problem Does Not End in High School: Higher Education Issues
    Is a College Education Really Worth It?
    The High Cost of Dropping Out of College
    For-Profit Colleges and Online Education
    Sociological Theory and Education
    Functionalism and Education
    Conflict Theory and Education
    Symbolic Interactionism and Education
    What Works? Effective Solutions to Address Problems Of Education
    K-12 Programs
    Higher Education Programs
    So What Can I Do?
    Key Terms
    Discussion Questions
    YOU MAKE THE CALL: Principal or Police?
    GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES: How US Students Are Falling Behind
    Why Can't a Woman Do That? Gender Inequalities
    Differences Between Boys and Girls
    The Women's Movement in the United States
    Gender Socialization and Social Institutions
    Parents and Caretakers
    Gender, Life Chances, and Inequalities
    Work and Income
    Family and Career
    Crime and Victimization
    Female criminality
    Sexual Harassment
    Sociological Theory and Gender
    Functionalism and Gender
    Conflict Theory and Gender
    Symbolic Interactionism and Gender
    Feminist Theory and Gender
    What Works? Effective Solutions to Gender Inequality
    So What Can I Do?
    Key Terms
    Discussion Questions
    YOU MAKE THE CALL: Gender Stereotypes and Children
    CHAPTER 10
    Love Is Love: Sexuality and Sexual Behavior
    Defining Sexual Orientation
    The History of LGBTQ People in the United States
    Challenges Facing LGTBQ People
    Prejudice and Discrimination
    Same-Sex Marriages and Parenting
    Housing Discrimination
    Discrimination in The Military
    Criminal Victimization and Hate Crime
    Challenges for LGBTQ People in the Criminal Justice System
    LGBTQ People and the Police
    The Courts and LGBTQ People
    LGBTQ People and Prison Life
    Sociological Theory and Sexuality
    Functionalism and Sexuality
    Conflict Theory and Sexuality
    Symbolic Interactionism and Sexuality
    Feminist and Queer Theory and Sexuality
    What Works? Effective Solutions to LGBTQ Inequality
    So What Can I Do?
    Key Terms
    Discussion Questions
    YOU MAKE THE CALL: Adoption and the LGBTQ Community
    CHAPTER 11
    Is Our Understanding of Family Changing?
    Defining Family
    Changes To Families
    The Decline of Marriage and the Birthrate
    Cohabitation and Childbearing
    Women in the Workforce
    Same-Sex Marriages
    Single-Parent Families
    Grandparent-led Families
    Family Problems
    Family Violence
    Child Neglect and Abuse
    Types of Neglect
    Reasons for Neglect
    Types of Child Abuse
    Sexual Abuse
    Intervention in Abuse Cases
    Medical Personnel
    Law Enforcement
    Foster Care
    Sociological Theory and the Family
    Functionalism and the Family
    Conflict and Feminist Theories and the Family
    Symbolic Interactionism and the Family
    Queer Theory and the Family
    What Works? Effective Solutions to Family Problems
    Family Skills Education
    Aging Out of Foster Care
    So What Can I Do?
    Key Terms
    Discussion Questions
    YOU MAKE THE CALL: Fostering a troubled child
    CHAPTER 12
    Is 70 the New 40? Population and Aging
    The Aging American Population
    The Elderly as Baby Boomers and Generation X
    Economics of Aging
    Older Americans in the Workforce
    Retirement Savings
    Crime And the Elderly
    Elderly Victims
    Elder Abuse
    Elderly Offenders
    Health Care and Aging
    Long-Term Care
    Death and Dying
    Family Relations and Aging
    Social Isolation
    Sociological Theory and Aging
    Functionalism and Aging
    Conflict Theory and Aging
    Feminist Theory and Aging
    Symbolic Interactionism and Aging
    What Works? Effective Solutions to the Probloms of Aging
    Meals on Wheels
    Physical Activity Programs for the Elderly
    So What Can I Do?
    Key Terms
    Discussion Questions
    YOU MAKE THE CALL: Fighting Poverty and Loneliness
    CHAPTER 13
    Are You Feeling Okay? Health and Health Care
    The Costs of Health Care in the United States
    The Specialization of Medicine
    Longevity and the Aging of America
    Inequalities and Health Care in America
    Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Social Class
    How To Address The Spiraling Costs of Health Care
    The History of Health Insurance in America
    Private Insurance
    Public Insurance: Medicare and Medicaid
    The Affordable Care Act/Obamacare
    The GOP Alternative to Obamacare
    Misinformation, Skepticism, and Denial
    Sociological Theory and Health Care in The United States
    Functionalism and Health Care
    Conflict Theory and Health Care
    Symbolic Interactionism and Health Care
    What Works? Effective Solutions to Problems of Health Care
    So What Can I Do?
    Key Terms
    Discussion Questions
    YOU MAKE THE CALL: Financing Medical Care
    GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES: Health Care in Singapore
    CHAPTER 14
    What's that Smell? The Environmental Crisis
    Environmental Issues
    Climate Change and Global Warming
    Addressing Climate Change and Climate Skeptics
    Air Pollution
    Water Pollution
    Land Pollution
    Radioactive Waste
    Environmental Racism
    Sociological Theory and Environmental Problems
    Functionalism and the Environment
    Conflict Theory and the Environment
    Symbolic Interactionism and the Environment
    What Works? Addressing Environmental Problems
    So What Can I Do?
    Key Terms
    Discussion Questions
    YOU MAKE THE CALL: Profit or People?
    CHAPTER 15
    Do We Need to Be Afraid? War and Terrorism
    War as a Social Problem
    Technology and Warfare
    Costs of Terrorism
    Types of Terrorism
    Fear and Public Opinion about Terrorism in the United States
    Sociological Theory on War and Terrorism
    Functionalism, War, and Terrorism
    Conflict Theory, War, and Terrorism
    Symbolic Interactionism, War, and Terrorism
    What Works? Effective Solutions to the Problems of War and Terrorism
    So What Can I Do?
    Key Terms
    Discussion Questions
    GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES: Incidences of Terror Around the Globe
    Credits 485