Social Problems, 11th Edition

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9780131115620: Social Problems, 11th Edition

With historical and multicultural sensitivity, this best-selling book probes the nature and causes of the major social changes confronting today's citizens. Using the latest research, current statistics, examples, charts, and tables, it delves into the social control and action issues inherent to each problem in a clear, easy-to-read format. Balancing viewpoints and supporting material with research and policy, the book covers topics in a micro-to-macro format, pointing out the interrelationships among today's social problems and approaching them from several perspectives. The first few chapters focus on individual behaviors such as drug use and crime. The middle chapters deal with inequality and discrimination, discussing such topics as poverty, prejudice, sexism, ageism, family life, and work. The final chapters discuss the problems of cities, environmental pollution, and war and terrorism: matters of global significance. Because the nature of the United States is changing, with health and health care crises, military invasions, economic downturn, shrinking public budgets and rising fiscal deficits, and environmental issues, this book becomes a necessary read for members of the medical profession that confront the tragedy of AIDS, law enforcement professionals who cope with crime and violence, elected officials and other political leaders who are expected to formulate sound social policies to address social problems, and citizens who wish to learn more about the social problems that are pervasive in our lives.

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This eleventh edition of Social Problems appears during an almost unprecedented time of uncertainty and danger in the world. Terrorism, military invasions, renewed regional arms races, economic downturn, shrinking public budgets, and rising fiscal deficits—all indicate an increase in social problems on many other fronts. After more than a decade of rather favorable trends for crime, health, employment, and the reduction of poverty, the United States faces the prospect of reverses in these and other vital areas of its national life. On the world stage, the growing problems of disease, poverty, and political instability are further indications that the next few years are likely to witness reverses in progress on major social problems. On the domestic front, huge budget deficits, brought on by what many see as a radical attack on public programs in such areas as health and welfare, make it likely that inequality and its attendant problems will only increase. Rollbacks on environmental protection, protection of workers' safety, and health care for the nation's neediest people add to the gloomy prospect. But there are some bright spots, as always. The Bush administration's move to become more active in the global fight against AIDS is encouraging and has been welcomed by leaders throughout Africa and other regions hit hard by the AIDS pandemic.

For every major social problem confronting Americans and citizens of other nations, there are groups of people dedicated to seeking a solution. Some of them are experts on particular social problems, like the members of the medical profession who each day confront the tragedy of AIDS, or the law enforcement professionals who cope with crime and violence. Others are nonprofessionals, often citizens who have devoted themselves to doing something about a particular situation or problem. Among these activists are people who have experienced the condition they seek to improve—women who have suffered sexual abuse, people who know what it is to be homeless, drug and alcohol abusers who want to help themselves and others, and neighbors confronted with the dumping of toxic wastes. Such groups may also include elected officials and other political leaders who are expected to formulate sound social policies to address social problems. This book is written in an effort to make their work more effective and in the hope that some readers will be moved to take up their causes. We dedicate it to the citizens of the world who devote some of their precious time on earth to helping others.

Organization of the Book

The first few chapters of this book focus on relatively individual behaviors, such as drug use and crime. The social institutions and other factors that affect these behaviors are noted and described. The middle chapters focus on inequality and discrimination, discussing such topics as poverty, prejudice, sexism, and ageism. Every attempt has been made to indicate the effects of large-scale discrimination on individuals, as well as to deal with the concept of institutionalized inequalities. Later chapters discuss problems that are common to many societies, such as those related to family life and work. The final chapters—on the problems of cities, environmental pollution, and war and terrorism—focus on matters of global significance. It seems best to discuss each subject in a separate chapter in order to deal with it comprehensively and in depth. Throughout the book, however, an attempt has been made to indicate how the different problems overlap and are interrelated.

Pedagogical Devices

Social Problems has been designed to be as helpful as possible to both students and teachers. Each problem is discussed in a well-organized and readable manner. As much as possible, unnecessary terminology has been avoided. The treatment of each problem is analytical as well as descriptive, and includes the most up-to-date findings available.

Each chapter begins with an outline and a set of significant facts and ends with a summary that lists the important concepts presented. Important terms within the chapter are boldfaced and listed at the end of the chapter, and their definitions are included in the Glossary at the end of the book. In addition, boxed discussions in each chapter deal with Current Controversies or Unintended Consequences of efforts to alleviate social problems. A Critical Research box in each chapter adds a dimension of critical thinking based on sociological research that should enliven debates about social problems and citizens' responsibilities in dealing with them.

New to this edition are boxes titled On Further Analysis and Census 2000: Implications for the Future. These appear in most chapters, where appropriate, and offer the instructor and student an opportunity to delve deeper into specific issues of measurement of social problems or attempts to address them with social policies. On Further Analysis takes a problem that has been in the public spotlight and shows how controversies over the problem are addressed by research. An On Further Analysis box on racial profiling, for example, examines quantitative research on the problem of "driving while black" and shows how findings can have a decisive influence on how this vexing social problem is addressed. The Census 2000 box capitalizes on the fact that figures from the most recent census are still appearing. We use analysis of recent census data to bring quantitative facts to bear on important issues like how poverty rates vary from one state or region of the United States to another. Each chapter also has a somewhat expanded section on social policy, now titled Politics and Social Policy, showing how political ideologies and conflicts exert major influences on what social policies actually become law and practice.

In keeping with the book's effort to achieve as much sociological objectivity as possible, there is a section at the end of each chapter called Beyond Left and Right. Its purpose is to help students think critically about the partisan debates over the problems discussed in the chapter they have just read. Each chapter also includes a pedagogical aid titled Social Problems Online, which will help students use the World Wide Web to inquire more deeply into particular social problems. Internet Exercises are provided at the end of each chapter.

Changes in the Eleventh Edition

The reception given to previous editions of Social Problems by both colleagues and students has been encouraging, and many of their suggestions and criticisms have been incorporated in subsequent revisions. This edition represents a continuing effort to create a comprehensive, up-to-date text. To this end, the text has been thoroughly revised. Our aim has been to retain the book's emphasis on the sociological analysis of social problems, as well as the policies designed to alleviate or eliminate them. Although policies change continually, we have attempted to update the discussions of policy to reflect the most recent thinking about solutions to social problems.

In this edition we have moved discussions of violence into the chapter on crime, and we have also moved material on sex-related social problems to locations in the book where it can supplement existing material. These changes were in response to reviewers' suggestions and our desire to make the book fit the usual semester format more closely. In these and other chapters we have made numerous changes to reflect current trends in social problems or new research findings. In Chapter 2 we have expanded the discussion of inequalities in health care, including more emphasis on gender inequalities. There is a revised section on the costs of health care that also includes new material on prescription drugs and on demographic and cultural factors, especially obesity. There is expanded coverage of the problems of the uninsured and new sections on AIDS and global poverty and AIDS orphans. Managed care comes in for closer scrutiny in the revised social policy section.

Chapter 3 has a new section on the impact of 9/11 on the mental health of schoolchildren as well as a more in-depth discussion of the parity issue in the social policy section. Chapter 4 features an expanded discussion of drinking among young people, a new subsection on designer drugs, and an On Further Analysis box on the crack/cocaine sentencing controversy. Chapter 5 includes an expanded and current discussion of corporate crime. The Census 2000 box in this chapter shows how trends in the size of youth cohorts have an impact on crime trends. Chapter 6 mentions the decline of corporate taxes as a proportion of total tax revenues and includes an expanded discussion of the working poor and a new Census 2000 box on poverty rates by state.

Chapter 7 offers an analysis of how Muslims and Arabs in the United States are faring since 9/11, a new subsection on racial profiling, and an expanded discussion of the costs of higher education as a barrier to racial equality. The expanded social policy section includes a discussion of racial politics in the United States, written before the Trent Lott affair but anticipating this kind of event in American politics. Chapter 8 is now titled Gender and Sexuality and includes a new section on gender and sexual identity, an expanded discussion of the gender gap in corporate management, and an expanded discussion of sexual harassment. There is also a new section on homophobia and additional material on the influence of the women's movement in the social policy section.

Chapter 9 includes a discussion of the likelihood of prescription drug legislation and a Census 2000 box on why the elderly population is unevenly distributed in the United States and the consequences of this distribution. Chapter 10 incorporates material on family violence and has an expanded discussion of cohabitation and the politics of "family values" and child support issues. A new On Further Analysis box analyzes trends in marriage and divorce. Chapter 11 has an expanded and updated section...

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