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Theories of social problems

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  1. The perception and construction of deviance and social problems
    1. Social foundations of social problems
    2. Political construction of social problems (agenda setting)
  2. The individual in the society : sociological theories of deviance
    1. Merton's strain theory : reasons in individual choice to deviance
    2. Labelling theory : the individual facing his social environment
  3. The relativity of social problems and deviance
    1. Social functions of deviance
    2. Critical evaluation of the social problems and deviance theories

All the societies in existence control their own organizations, in order to live, develop and survive. This is why one tries to notice and solve social disorders and problems. Sociology has developed as a science that studies how social problems are emerging. Studying the theories of the social problems allows us to have matrices or grids of interpretation to understand how a behavior can be detected as disorganizing the society, and how this behavior is created. Sociologically speaking, social problems find their roots in the phenomenon of deviance, i.e. the recognized violation of cultural norms. This implies several things. The fact that deviance depends on cultural factors means that a particular behavior won't be considered deviant at anytime in any society. Thus, how society defines deviance and identifies deviant people explains the way it is organized. Understanding this means understanding how social problems are identified as problems, and how they emerged. Trying to follow this logic, we will first study how a fact becomes a problem i.e. how, from a global point of view, deviance is identified. Secondly, we will see why people decide to conform to, or oppose social norms. Eventually, we will consider the relativity of the social problems, since they are subject to temporal and local norms.

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