SOC 5, F2F section 2232, MWF 9am-9:50am, room D267
SOC 5 INT section 2238
Instructor: Eric P. Strayer Email: TEXTBOOK(s) (required): 1) Alessio, John C. Introduction to Social Problems Social Problems and Inequality, Hardback; ISBN 978-1-4094-1987-7 available at the bookstore and by Kindle 2) Used in part: Barkan, Steve, Social Problems: Continuity and Change, available free online at   3) Used in part: Openstax Sociology 2e, available free online at
NOTE: Additional readings, videos, and audios will be assigned.
o THE QUESTIONS: What defines a social problem as a problem? What can we do about social problems? What are other societies doing?
General Theories in Play
Structural Functionalism
Conflict Theory
Symbolic Interactionism
Feminist Theory
Critical Theory
C. Wright Mills: Personal problem versus Social issues - steeped in the idea that numbers matter
Humanistic: Based upon notion that there are basic/global human rights - a social problem can exist even if affection only one person.
Functionalist: Predetermined propensity towards hierarchical systems - Social Darwinism. We are placed in a hierarchy by predominately biological predispositions and use of opportunity.
Who decides what constitutes a social problem?
Claims making process
The concept of social movement industries
Poverty/homelessness in the USA
Domestic Violence
Crime and social control
Etc. (see below)
TWO PART GROUP PRESENTATION on a social problem. To be detailed.
JOURNAL: Each student in each class keeps a weekly journal that covers two separate days of the week. To be detailed.
ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY: A list of four peer-reviewed articles from EBSCOHost library database. To be detailed.
Assignments explained
Journal entries begin
Presentation examples
Groups and their topics formed
Google Drive folders established
Google Circles established
Beginning lectures on theory
Relevant homework assignments
Groups begin reporting to the class
Beginnings of actual presentation building (first Powerpoints)
Annotated bibliography assignment completed

Poverty DOMESTIC: (Why do we have the highest rate of poverty of the industrialized countries? Why do we "hate the poor" and "blame the victim?"
GLOBAL: Examples of greatest levels in the world. Examples of lowest levels. Popular reasons. Less popular reasons. (I.e. real effects of World Bank and IMF as controversy)
Economy DOMESTIC: (Where is the money?/who has the most/who has the least/sharing the "commons"/free markets/monopolies/role of government) GLOBAL: How does the US economy fit into the global one? I.e. How did 2008 affect Europe and Asia?
Racial and Ethnic Inequality DOMESTIC: (Fundamental racism to institutional for various ethnic/racial minorities.)
GLOBAL: Ethnic Conflict and Genocide.
Gender Inequality and Sexual Identity DOMESTIC: LBGT issues. History of intolerance/tolerance (i.e. the Stonewall incident in NY), gay marriage laws. Workplace discrimination and social patriarchy.
GLOBAL: Classic comparisons such as Iran and other Middle Eastern countries with our notions. Sex trafficking.
Addiction DOMESTIC: (The issue of Alcohol and Other Drugs and the stigma of addiction and laws in the US) Less emphasis on numbers and more on the sociological aspects regarding victimization and complexity of consequences. War on Drugs history and social costs versus private profits. (Judge Gray.)
GLOBAL: Other countries' solutions and failures (Needle Park to Harm Reduction). Global drug trafficking. Patterns.
Social Control DOMESTIC (How are we regulated to prevent excessive deviant behavior and law-breaking? i.e. Patriot Act, NSA, Drones, etc.)
GLOBAL: Social control in terms of culture, i.e. how accepting is China versus the US, versus Western Europe, etc.
Schools and Education DOMESTIC: (Just how bad is our K-12 system? Should it be privatized? What is really behind reform and standardized testing? Reference story of New Orleans via Naomi Klein etc.)
GLOBAL: Comparing other countries and cultures. Are there "better" or only "different" educational systems? Discuss Finland and compare to Singapore.
Work and the Economy DOMESTIC: (Why is it that Americans have been working harder and increasing productivity while wages have been stagnant? What kind of an economy do we have and is it working?) Wage theft.
GLOBAL: The global race to the bottom for cheap labor. Where are material resources located (rare earths for example)? Where are Niki's made? Global labor exploitation. Child labor (slavery). Recent examples of international exploitation of immigrant labor such as the story of Dubai. (New reference found: )
Health and Health Care DOMESTIC: (Who gets/who controls/government/private industry).
GLOBAL: What countries have the best system and by what criteria? How come pharmaceuticals cost more in the US than other countries even though they are made here? Pharmaceutical industry and global markets (exploitation?)
Population and the Environment (Urban problems and solutions/rural problems and solutions/sheer numbers/environmental impact by numbers/food distribution/exploitation) DOMESTIC: Primary environmental issues such as pollution and energy usage/cost/waste. Politics of Solar usage - See Arizona charging surcharge for solar - the fight against the success of Tesla, and the like.
GLOBAL: What countries are doing best and why in energy/pollution context? Pacific Garbage Patches (Gyres), International Conferences on Global Warming. (NOTE: Urban issues include both problems and solutions.) Demographic Transition Theory.
War and Terrorism (Empire/expansionism/colonialism) DOMESTIC: US history of aggression to native Americans (genocide physical and cultural), and 19th Century expansionism (Philippines), Cold War alliances and aggression.
GLOBAL: 1000 US military bases in the globe. Concept of Blowback (Chalmers Johnson) theory of 9/11 related to 1995 sanctions on Iraq (see Albright interview).
Understanding of social problems in terms of theoretical perspectives and social paradigms.
Understanding of social problems in terms of cultural relativity and cross-cultural human rights perspective.
Understanding of different definitions of the term "social problems."