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Book Details

  • Paperback
  • Bookstore's Wholesale Price: $41.44
  • November 2007
  • ISBN: 978-0-393-92932-4
  • 416 pages
  • Territory Rights: USA and Dependencies, Philippines and Canada.

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  1. Sociology

Social Problems



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Ira Silver (Author, Framingham State College)


The reader features multiple readings on the following topics: crime, disaster, drugs, families, gender, health and environment, inequality, race, and violence.

Each reading includes a brief headnote and a handful of study questions.


    Part I. The Power to Construct Social Problems

    Spotlighting Disaster

    Eric Klinenberg, from “Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago”

    Waging War on Drugs

    Craig Reinerman and Harry G. Levine, from “The Crack Attack: Politics and Media in the Crack Scare”

    Viewing Bodily Imperfection as a Health Problem

    Ken Silverstein, from “Millions for Viagra, Pennies for Diseases of the Poor”

    Seeing Police Mistreatment of Blacks as a Necessary Evil

    Frank Bruni, from “Behind Police Brutality: Public Assent”

    Making Road Dangers Invisible

    Malcolm Gladwell, from “Drunk Drivers and Other Dangers”

    Getting Fat on Misinformation

    “An Epidemic of Obesity Myths” from the Center for Consumer Freedom

    Making School Shootings More Thinkable

    Lionel Shriver, from “Dying to Be Famous”

    The Problem with Welfare as We Know It

    Derrick Jackson, from “Why Do Stereotypes and Lies Persist?”

    Part 2. How Social Problems Are Framed

    Random Violence

    Joel Best, from Random Violence: How We Talk about New Crimes and New Victims

    The Horrors of Child Abuse

    John M. Johnson, from “Horror Stories and the Construction of Child Abuse”

    Dangerous Music in Black and White

    Amy Binder, from “Constructing Racial Rhetoric: Media Depictions of Harm in Heavy Metal and Rap Music”

    Injustice Based on Sexual Orientation

    Mitch Berbrier and Elaine Pruett, from “When Is Inequality a Problem? Victim Contests, Injustice Frames, and the Case of the Office of Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Student Support Services at Indiana University”

    PMS and the Biological Flaws of Womanhood

    Carol Tavris, from “Misdiagnosing the Body: Premenstrual Syndrome, Postmenstrual Syndrome, and Other Normal ‘Diseases’”

    Black and Undeserving: Exposing Myths about America’s Poor

    Martin Gilens, from “Race and Poverty in America: Public Misperceptions and the American News Media”

    Treating Social Problems as Emergencies

    Michael Lipsky and Steven Rathgeb Smith, from “When Social Problems Are Treated as Emergencies”

    Killer Tales about Serial Killings

    Philip Jenkins, from Using Murder: The Social Construction of Serial Homicide

    Stalking as a Danger Potentially Menacing All Women

    Kathleen S. Lowney and Joel Best, from “Stalking Strangers and Lovers: Changing Media Typifications of a New Crime Problem”

    A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

    This selection consists of a series of photos that illustrate the power of visual images in framing social problems.

    Part 3. Competition Among Social Problems

    Selling Environmental Problems

    Sheldon Ungar, from “Bringing the Issue Back In: Comparing the Marketability of the Ozone Hole and Global Warming”

    Compensating for Deficit v. Enhancing Performance

    Kate Zernike, from “The Difference Between Steroids and Ritalin is...”

    The Crimes That Come to Mind

    Jeffrey Reiman, from “A Crime by Any Other Name...”

    Babies Having Babies

    Kristin Luker, from Dubious Conceptions: The Politics of Teenage Pregnancy

    When Kids Become Victims of Violence

    Joel Best, from “Monster Hype: How a Few Isolated Tragedies—and Their Supposed Causes—Were Turned into a National Epidemic”

    Homeless, Not Poor

    Gary Blasi, from “And We Are Not Seen: Ideological and Political Barriers to Understanding Homelessness”

    Catastrophes That Count

    Hendrik Hertzberg, from “Flood Tide”

    Black Men as Criminals and as Victims

    Barry Glassner, from The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things

    Part 4. Policymaking and Outcomes

    The War on Terror and a Terrified Public

    Dawn Rothe and Stephen L. Muzzatti, from “Enemies Everywhere: Terrorism, Moral Panic, and U.S. Civil Society”

    Fostering Personal Responsibility among Women on Welfare

    Sharon Hays, from Flat Broke with Children: Women in the Age of Welfare Reform

    Providing Free Housing to the Homeless

    Malcolm Gladwell, from “Why Problems Like Homelessness May Be Easier to Solve Than to Manage”

    The Politics of Disaster

    David E. Rosenbaum, from “Disaster Aid: The Mix of Mercy and Politics”

    Labor Strife Produces Disgruntled Consumers

    Christopher R. Martin, from Framed! Labor and the Corporate Media

    The Colored Stigma of Imprisonment

    Devah Pager, from “Blacks and Ex-Cons Need Not Apply”

    Gaming on Native American Reservations

    Donald L. Bartlett and James B. Steele, from “Wheel of Misfortune”

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