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Book Details

  • Paperback
  • Bookstore's Wholesale Price: $42.00
  • July 2016
  • ISBN: 978-0-393-28341-9
  • 350 pages
  • Territory Rights: Worldwide

    Digital Product

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Social Problems

Third Edition


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Joel Best (Author, University of Delaware)


A complete set of tools for analyzing any social problem.

Updated with nine new end-of-chapter case studies and more than 50 new boxed examples, the Third Edition of Joel Best's Social Problems elucidates the complex, competitive process through which social problems emerge, paying particular attention to how resources and rhetoric affect each stage of the process. Drawing on social constructionist theory, Best shows how activists, experts, and their opponents engage in claimsmaking, and how the media then report on these claims, prompting public reaction and driving policy. In order to help students connect theory to everyday life, Joel Best fills the book with colorful examples and real-world case studies.


Completely updated with new case studies and examples

Best connects social constructionist theory to the real world with timely end-of-chapter case studies and multiple boxed examples in every chapter. For the Third Edition, Joel has written nine new case studies and added more than 50 boxed examples throughout the book. The boxes, which are peppered throughout the chapter, give students bite-sized examples that elucidate concepts from the chapter as they read. The end-of-chapter case studies pull all of the chapter's concepts together and apply them to one extended example.

A social constructionist approach that emphasizes the social problems process

Focusing on the overarching social problems process, Best helps students understand how and why particular conditions come to be constructed as social problems. Each chapter in Social Problems 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." 

A focus on the role of resources and rhetoric in the social problems process

Throughout the book, Best pays particular attention to how resources and rhetoric affect each stage of the social problems process. Best demonstrates how people with more money, power, and other resources generally find it easier to have their claims heard. And these claims are not static; they shift and morph at each stage in the process as the rhetoric changes.  

An intellectual toolkit to analyze any and all social problems

Social Problems provides readers with the tools to recognize and respond to claims about social problems from the media, experts, politicians, and activists. The goal of Best's book is to give students a better way of thinking about whatever social problems strike them as interesting—whether it's age-old problems like poverty and sexism or newer problems like the digital divide and climate change.  

    1. The Social Problems Process
    2. Claims
    3. Activists as Claimsmakers
    4. Experts as Claimsmakers
    5. The Media and Claims
    6. Public Reaction
    7. Policymaking
    8. Social Problems Work
    9. Policy Outcomes
    10. Claims across Space and Time
    11. The Uses of the Constructionist Stance

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