A complete set of tools for analyzing any social problem.
Updated with over 60 new examples and case studies, Social Problems shows how activists, experts, and their opponents frame social problems through the logic that they use; the rhetoric of claims-making; and the ways that access to resources determines who gets their claims heard. Drawing on social constructionist theory, the idea that our experience of reality is created through the interaction and participation of individuals and groups, Joel Best helps readers understand the complex competitive process through which problems emerge. In order to help students connect theory to everyday life, Joel Best fills the book with colorful examples and case studies from the real world.
Completely updated with over 60 new examples and case studies
Best connects social constructionist theory to the real world by including 4–5 boxed examples in each chapter and concluding with end-of-chapter case studies. The boxes give students small examples as they work through the chapter. The end-of-chapter case studies pull all of the chapter’s concepts together and apply them to one extended example. continue reading »
A unified approach gives students a toolkit to analyze any social problem
Social Problems, Second Edition, provides readers with the tools to recognize and respond to claims about social problems that they hear from the media, experts, politicians, and activists. Best’s framework helps students think about these competing agendas and special interests analytically. In particular, Joel Best helps us to think carefully about how a problem is being framed by its advocates and opponents, about the logic that they use, about the rhetoric of claims-making, and who has the resources to attract attention to a social problem and who does not.
Emphasizes social constructionist theory throughout the book
The book emphasizes a constructionist approach that is intellectually coherent, and focuses on the general topic of the social problems process— the complex relationships between public opinion, the media, activists, politicians, and service providers that transforms a condition into a social problem. Each chapter builds on the previous one, taking readers through the typical path that an issue follows as it transforms from its initial status as a “claim” to its eventual designation as a “social problem.”
Organized around two themes: Resources and Rhetoric
Resources: A society’s members are not equal; some have more money than others, or more power, more status, more education, or more social contacts. These are resources that people can draw upon in the social problems process. In each stage of the social problems process, claimsmakers compete to attract attention to their claims. Throughout the book, Best shows how, in general, people with more money, power, and other resources find it easier to have their claims heard.
Rhetoric: The social construction of social problems is inevitably rhetorical. Whenever people make claims, they are trying to convince others that something is a problem, and that action needs to be taken to deal with this problem. Joel Best shows how claims shift and morph at each stage in the larger social problems process as the rhetoric changes.
1. What Do We Mean by Social Problems?
3. Activists as Claimsmakers
4. Experts as Claimsmakers
5. Media and Claims
6. Public Reactions
8. Social Problems Work
9. Policy Outcomes
10. Claims across Space and Time
11. The Uses of the Constructionist Stance