Article

Social Problems

Sandra K. Danziger and Karen M. Staller

in Encyclopedia of Social Work

Published by NASW Press and Oxford University Press


Published online June 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199975839 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780199975839.013.369

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Societies greatly vary in how social ills or conditions are framed and addressed. What is socially problematic and why specific societal responses are developed depends on competing social values in social, political, and historic context. Social constructionists examine how some social behaviors and conditions come to be publicly viewed as social problems and how these views shape policy and practice. Recent studies document two contemporary trends—the medicalizing and criminalizing of behavior for labeling problems and subjecting them to institutions of social control. Analyses of the social problems process (Best, 2013; Staller, 2009) allow social workers to consider how power, politics, fears, prejudices, and values “create” what is problematic about a variety of social conditions.

Keywords: social construction; medicalization; criminalization

Article.  3636 words. 

Subjects: Human Behaviour and the Social Environment

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