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How Sociologists View Social Problems. The Abortion Dilemma. The Sociological Imagination. “The sociological imagination enables us to grasp history and biography and the relations between the two within society.” – C. Wright Mills. The Sociological Imagination.

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the sociological imagination
The Sociological Imagination

“The sociological imagination enables us to grasp history and biography and the relations between the two within society.”

– C. Wright Mills

the sociological imagination1
The Sociological Imagination
  • Seeing people’s behavior and attitudes in the context of the social forces that affect their lives
  • Our person troubles are a result of the public condition
the sociological imagination2
The Sociological Imagination
  • Also referred to as the sociological perspective
  • Social location
    • Where we are located in society
    • Predictions based on social location reference the group, not the individual
social problem
Social Problem
  • Aspect of society that a large number of people are concerned about and would like to see changed.
characteristics of social problems
Characteristics of Social Problems

Objective concerns


Whether abortions are legal

Who obtains abortions

Why they have abortions

Number of abortions

  • Can be measured or experienced
characteristics of social problems1
Characteristics of Social Problems

Subjective Concerns


Some women may have unwanted children

Some women terminate their pregnancy

  • Concerns that a significant number of people (or a number of significant people) have about the objective concern
characteristics of social problems2
Characteristics of Social Problems
  • Roe v. Wade
    • Before decision
      • Illegality
      • Back alley abortion
    • After decision
      • Legality
      • Changing the law


Respond to changes in society

Take shape as groups interact with one another

characteristics of social problems3
Characteristics of Social Problems
  • Relative
    • What is a solution to some, might be a problem for others
    • Based on values
natural history of social problems
Natural History of Social Problems
  • Defining the problem
  • Crafting an official response
  • Reacting to official response
  • Pursuing alternative stategies
studying social problems
Studying Social Problems
  • Surveys
  • Case studies
  • Experiments
  • Field studies
gathering information
Gathering information
  • Interviews
  • Questionaires
  • Documents
  • Observations