Social Problems: Constructionist Readings

Paperback | December 31, 2003

EditorJoel Best, Donileen R. Loseke

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This collection of focused essays is directed at several levels of students of social problems. It is accessible to the uninitiated, who are not familiar with the constructionist literature, and aimed at those who are not particularly interested in subtle theoretical and empirical issues of concern to academics studying social problems from constructionist perspectives. Some readings focus on the construction of problems by scientists and other professionals; others examine the work of social activists, mass media, and social service personnel. Among the topics included are studies of social inequalities and individual deviance; a comparison of the images of social problems in the United States with those in other countries; and an examination of the importance of politics and power in constructing public images of social problems.

Constructionist perspectives have become the leading theoretical approach for sociology and allied fields in studying social problems. Yet constructionists' impact on the teaching of social problems has been far less dramatic. Undergraduate courses on social problems are often subject to a theoretical barrage of eclectic perspectives. Just as the first social problems textbooks did almost a century ago, textbooks continue to present a series of unrelated chapters, each devoted to a particular social problem. Social Problems is an effort at systematic analysis rather than random thought on the subject.

Social Problems presents detailed case studies demonstrating how constructionist perspectives can actually be applied to understand particular social problems. While these articles can be read alone, the editors have organized these selections to correspond with the chapter topics in the second edition of Donileen Loseke's Thinking about Social Problems, an accessible introduction to constructionist approaches. At the same time, some instructors who use this edited collection might wish to provide their own mix to the selection process. Many of the contributions make multiple points and so reasonably could be used to illustrate other basic texts or classic studies in the field of social problems.

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This collection of focused essays is directed at several levels of students of social problems. It is accessible to the uninitiated, who are not familiar with the constructionist literature, and aimed at those who are not particularly interested in subtle theoretical and empirical issues of concern to academics studying social problems...

Joel E. Best is professor at the department of sociology and criminal justice, University of Delaware. He is the author of numerous books, including Flavor of the Month: Why Smart People Fall for Fads; Deviance: Career of a Concept; and Random Violence: How We Talk about New Crimes and New Victims. Donileen R. Loseke is professor of...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:287 pages, 8.98 × 6.01 × 0.73 inPublished:December 31, 2003Publisher:Aldine TransactionLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0202307034

ISBN - 13:9780202307039

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Table of Contents

Preface

I. Examining Social Problems
Introduction
1 The Changing Meanings of Spanking - Phillip W. Davis
2 Bullying as a Social Problem in Great Britain - Frank Furedi
3 The Problem with the Earthquake Problem - Robert A. Stallings
4 Reality Television Constructs Crime - Gray Cavender

II. Claims-Makers and Audiences
Introduction
5 Audiences Evaluate Statistics - Joel Best
6 Promoters of Hate Crime Legislation - Valerie Jenness and Kendal Broad
7 Psychiatrists Construct Homosexuality - Stuart A. Kirk and Herb Kutchins
8 Television Talk Shows Construct Morality - Kathleen S. Lowney

III. Constructing Conditions
Introduction
9 Smoking Problems in Japan - Jun Ayukawa
10 Crime Frames and their Sponsors - Theodore Sasson
11 Framing in the Fathers' Rights Movement - Gwyneth I. Williams and Rhys H. Williams
12 Factory Farming as a Social Problem - Karl R. Kunkel

IV. Constructing People
Introduction
13 The Rhetorical Appeal of Random Violence - Joel Best
14 Prostitutes Respond to AIDS - Valerie Jenness
15 Science Constructs PMS - Anne E. Figert
16 Multicultural Education as Moral Drama - Shan Netson-Rowe

V. Constructing Solutions
Introduction
17 The Homeless Mentally 111 and Involuntary Hospitalization - Donileen R. Loseke
18 Constructing a War on Drugs - Craig Reinarman and Harry G. Levine
19 Urine Testing and Social Control - William J. Staudenmeier
20 The Size Acceptance Movement - Jeffery Sobal

VI. Social Problems and Everyday Life
Introduction
21 Constructing the Need for "Low Fat" Food - S. Bryn Austin
22 Pregnant Women as a Social Problem - Carol Brooks-Gardner
23 Constructing Sexually Marginalized Catholics - Donileen R. Loseke and James C. Cavendish
24 The Beliefs of Recovery Religion - Kathleen S. Lowney

VII. Social Problems and Troubled People
Introduction
25 Medicalizing Childhood - Dorothy Pawluch
26 Teaching Gifted Children - Leslie Margolin
27 Constructing Insanity in Involuntary Commitment Hearings - James A. Holstein
28 Formula Stories and Support Groups for Battered Women - Donileen'R. Loseke

VIII. Evaluating Constructionist Perspectives on Social Problems
Introduction
29 "Crack Babies" and the Politics of Mothering - Jacqueline Litt and Maureen McNeil
30 The Symbolic Meanings of "Pedophile Priests" - Philip Jenkins
31 Horror Stories and the Construction of Child Abuse - John M. Johnson
32 Constructing the "Jewish Problem" in Nazi Germany - Ronald J. Berger