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This best-selling introduction to social problems opens with an overview of the sociological tools and perspectives that are used in the study of social problems. The book provides a solid foundation by discussing fundamental changes and problems in the four basic social institutions — economy, government, education, and family — before examining more specific topics, such as health care or poverty. The volume addresses the sociological aspects of sociology and social problems, troubled institutions, the problems of inequality, conformity and deviance and the problems of a changing world. For those interested in the social problems and solutions that face society today.
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James W. Coleman is a professor of sociology at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and past chair of the Social Sciences Department. He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He was a student of Donald R. Cressey who, until his death, was America's leading criminologist and the coauthor of this text.
Professor Coleman is an internationally recognized authority on white collar crime. In addition to numerous articles on the subject, he is the author of The Criminal Elite: Understanding White Collar Crime. He is also interested in the sociology of religion and has just published a new book on Western Buddhism called The New Buddhism: The Western Transformation of an Ancient Tradition.
Harold R. Kerbo is a professor of sociology at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Professor Kerbo has been promoting international education in the United States and abroad since the early 1980s with extensive teaching and research experience in Asia and Europe. In addition to other teaching experience in Tokyo, Professor Kerbo was a Fulbright Professor during 1988-1989 at Hiroshima University, as well as a visiting professor in the Law Faculty at Hiroshima Shudo University. During 1991, Professor Kerbo was a visiting professor at the University of Duisburg, Germany, and returned to the Dusseldorf area during 1992 and 1993 as a research professor conducting research on employee relations in Japanese corporations located in Germany. In 1990, Professor Kerbo received a Fulbright-Hays grant to study at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand, and for several months during 1994-1996 directed a research project on employee relations in American and Japanese corporations with operations in Thailand. During 1996, he was also a visiting professor in the MBA Program at the Prince of Songkla University in Thailand. From 1995, Professor Kerbo has been in charge of annual study programs he helped establish for American students in Thailand, with study trips also to Laos and Vietnam. From 1998, Professor Kerbo has also been involved in establishing annual study programs in Japan. During the winter term of 1999, Professor Kerbo was a visiting professor at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, and was a visiting professor at the University of Wales, Great Britain, during the fall term of 1999.
Professor Kerbo has published six books and numerous articles on the subjects of social stratification, comparative societies, corporate structure, and modern Japan. He is the author of the leading textbook on social stratification titled Social Stratification and Inequality, 4/E, and, along with John A. McKinstry, the author of Who Rules Japan?: The Inner-Circles of Economic and Political Power.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
From the first rough draft to this eighth edition, we have written this book for students. Our objective has been not only to familiarize undergraduates with the most trying problems of their times, but also to stimulate them to think in a critical, scientific way. We encourage them to challenge the half-truths and pat answers that many people accept simply because they have heard them repeated so often. We ask students to participate in the dialogue about these issues rather than merely stand back and observe.
Features of the Eighth Edition
The biggest change for the new edition is the addition of a new coauthor, Harold R. Kerbo. Harold is not only the author of America's leading social stratification text, he brings a wealth of other invaluable experience with him. He has an impressive body of crosscultural research to his credit and has taught in Germany, Switzerland, Thailand, Great Britain, Japan, and, of course, the United States. He is the editor of a series on comparative sociology and the author of numerous other books. In addition, we brought in Linda L. Ramos from the University of Colorado, Boulder, to strengthen still further the feminist perspective throughout this edition, and we gave her full charge of the chapters on aging and gender.
In preparing the eighth edition, we have tried to enhance the strengths that have made this book so successful over the years. Users of the previous editions have praised the broad coverage, the strongly worded debates on controversial issues, the informative graphics, and, most significantly, the consistent theoretical organization, including a section on the major theoretical perspectives in each chapter. These features have been retained or strengthened in this edition. Moreover, we have striven to maintain the same clear, straightforward style of writing—one that does not talk down to the reader or oversimplify complex issues—for which this book has become known.
A Global Perspective on American Problems
Much of the new material in this eighth edition attempts to bring a comparative sociological perspective to the study of American social problems. Although the focus of this text continues to be social problems in the United States, we have included new material about social problems in other countries in every chapter. We are convinced that in this ever more globalized society, American students gain a far better understanding of the social problems they face when they see how different social conditions in other countries affect those problems and how countries around the world have dealt with the same issues.
We have continued three special boxed features that were exceedingly well received in previous editions. First, to counterbalance the "gloom and doom" that inevitably creeps into social problems classes, we have included numerous "Signs of Hope" boxes that highlight some positive trend or development. There are also "Personal Perspectives" boxes that seek to get students more personally involved in the issues by providing a vivid commentary from someone directly affected by a major social problem. And as in previous editions, "Debate" boxes in each chapter present two sides of a controversial issue to show students the complexity of various problems and encourage them to consider conflicting opinions.
New "Lessons from Other Places"
A new feature of this edition is the "Lessons from Other Places." These boxes usually feature the personal observations on social problems in other countries by one of the authors of this text. Our intent is to give students a more personal introduction to the problems of other countries by discussing some of our own personal experiences as Americans abroad.
Web Sources and Exercises
This new edition of Social Problems has been designed with Web material to find additional information about social problems in the United States and other countries, to locate and download various types of reports and articles about social problems from national and international agencies, and to obtain information about social problems from various newspapers around the world. We hope this information will be useful to students who want to obtain more information for student papers and reports, or simply for students who would like to find more information about topics covered in the chapters of this book. We also hope that our Web material can aid both students and faculty in finding the most up-to-date material about social problems. Through the Internet it has become possible for government agencies, welfare organizations, and various nongovernmental organizations (NGO's) to offer new data, sometimes updated monthly, that was unavailable at press time.
Also, our colleague, Meika Clucas, has provided numerous student exercises pertaining to the social problems covered in each chapter of this book. Meika Clucas has extensive experience in this area and brings to our project an excellent background as a comparative sociologist. Students can go to our Website to find exercises that enhance learning through questions and hints about how the answers can be found in the appropriate places on the Web.
Information on Our Website
Newspapers around the World. One of the best ways to learn about social problems is to simply read a good newspaper. This Website contains the Web addresses of the best U.S. newspapers as well as foreign newspapers in English, which can be used for these purposes. All of these newspapers provide free access to their news pages daily.
Information from U.S. Government Sources. The United States government provides an amazing amount of information for free on the Web. Over 70 government agencies have Web pages which contain data on subjects such as child abuse, drug use, crime rates, poverty trends, environmental dangers, health statistics, and much more. All of this is free and can be downloaded as data files into personal computers as well as read on the Web. Most of the government Websites require the software Acrobat Exchange for calling up and downloading the reports and information tables, but Acrobat Exchange is provided for download free of charge by these agencies. One can simply click on the Acrobat icon provided on the Website for a download that will take only a few minutes and minimal disc space.
Our Website indicates some of the best government Websites for information about social problems, the addresses, and how to use these Websites. One of the best for our purpose is the U.S. Census Bureau (www.census.gov), which gives people free access to hundreds of reports compiled by the Census Bureau, as well as the Statistical Abstracts of the United States, which compiles information on the most commonly asked questions every year.
Information from International Agencies. Many international agencies provide data on social problems for countries around the world much like the U.S. Census Bureau provides such information for the United States. The United Nations is one of these agencies, as are the World Bank, World Health Organization, Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, International Monetary Fund, and the European Union's new statistical and information agency, Eurostat. As with the U.S. Government Websites, our Website will provide the Web addresses for all of the agencies and help you through the process of using these Websites and leaning what can be found. Web Exercises Web exercises offer questions about social problems and suggest how and where you can find answers to these questions. For each chapter, questions test your knowledge of the topics discussed in this book. We also suggest that groups of students can design some of their own questions exploring social problems in this and other countries which people may not have considered previously.
Cross-National Comparisons. Following the noted sociologist, Seymour Martin Lipset, who wrote, "Those who know only one country know no country," we have included many sources of information about social problems in other countries. By examining social problems in other countries and comparing them to the United Stakes, you gain a far deeper understanding about the causes and solutions to social problems. Such an examination makes us confront our own misconceptions about other countries and about our own. We have included much of this comparative information in the text, especially in the boxes, "Lessons from Other Places." Our Website includes a rich assortment of material that can be found on the Websites of many foreign government agencies and from NGO's that are working to eliminate social problems such as world poverty, the exploitation of women and children, environmental pollution, and AIDS, among many other social problems.
Suggested Readings. Previous editions of this text have provided a list of useful books and articles at the end of each chapter. For the current edition of this text, we are providing the list of additional readings on our Website so it can be periodically updated and revised.
Comprehensive Student Aids
In addition to these special features, this new edition continues the comprehensive set of pedagogical aids of previous editions:
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