A social issue is a problem that influences many citizens within a society. It is a group of common problem in present-day society and one that many people strive to solve. It is often the consequence of factors extending beyond an individual's control. Social issues are the source of a conflicting opinion on the grounds of what is perceived as morally correct or incorrect personal life or interpersonal social life decisions.

 

Social issues are distinguished from economic issues; however, some issues (such as immigration) have both social and economic aspects. There are also issues that do not fall into either category, such as warfare.

There can be disagreements about what social issues are worth solving, or which should take precedence. Different individuals and different societies have different perceptions

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In Rights of Man and Common Sense, Thomas Paine addresses the individual's duty to "allow the same rights to others as we allow ourselves." The failure to do so causes the creation of a social issue.

There are a variety of methods people use to combat social issues. Some people vote for leaders in a democracy to advance their ideals. Outside the political process, people donate or share their time, money, energy, or other resources. This often takes the form of volunteering. Nonprofit organizations are often formed for the sole purpose of solving a social issue. Community organizing involves gathering people together for a common purpose.

A distinct but related meaning of the term "social issue" (used particularly in the United States) refers to topics of national political interest, over which the public is deeply divided and which are the subject of intense partisan advocacy, debate, and voting. In this case "social issue" does not necessarily refer to an ill to be solved, but rather a topic to be discussed.


Personal issues
Personal issues are those that individuals deal with themselves and within a small range of their peers and relationships. On the other hand, social issues involve values cherished by widespread society. For example, a high unemployment rate that affects millions of people is a social issue.

The line between a personal issue and a public issue may be subjective and depends on how groups are defined. However, when a large enough sector of society is affected by an issue, it becomes a social issue. Returning to the unemployment issue, while one person losing their job is a personal and not a social issue, 18 million people losing their job is likely to generate a variety of social issues.

Valence issues versus position issues
A valence issue is a social problem that people uniformly interpret the same way. These types of issues generally generate a widespread consensus and provoke little resistance from the public. An example of a valence issue is child abuse, which is condemned across several societies to a large enough degree that some social scientists might speak of them as though they are universal, for the sake of illustration.

By contrast, a position issue is a social problem in which the popular opinion among society is divided. Different people may hold different and strongly-held views, which are not easily changed. An example of a position issue is abortion, which, in some countries, has not generated a widespread consensus from the public.

There are many types of social issues
Generic types of social issues, along with examples of each, are as follows: (this list will expand as we launch this site officially!)

Social stratification
Social stratification is a kind of social differentiation whereby members of society are grouped into socioeconomic strata, based upon their occupation and income, wealth and social status, or derived power (social and political). As such, stratification is the relative social position of persons within a social group, category, geographic region, or social unit.

Economic issues

Unemployment rates vary by region, gender, educational attainment, and ethnic group.

In most countries (including developed countries), many people are poor and depend on welfare. In 2007 in Germany, one in six children . That is up from only one in seventy-five in 1965. War also plays an important role in disturbing the economic status of a country by using money that was intended for welfare.

Social disorganization

So-called "problem neighbourhoods" exist in many countries. These neighbourhoods tend to have a high drop-out rate from secondary school, and children growing up in these neighbourhoods have a low probability of going to college compared to children who grow up in other neighbourhoods. Abuse of alcohol and drugs is common in these neighbourhoods. Often these neighbourhoods were founded out of best intentions.

Public Health
Widespread health conditions (often characterized as epidemics or pandemics) are of concern to society as a whole. They can harm quality of life, the ability of people to contribute to society (e.g. by working), and most problematically result in death.

Infectious diseases are often public health concerns because they can spread quickly and easily, affecting large numbers of people. The World Health Organization has an acute interest in combating infectious disease outbreaks by minimizing their geographic and numerical spread and treating the affected. Other conditions for which there is not yet a cure or even effective treatment, such as dementia, can be viewed as public health concerns in the long run.

Age and the Life Course

Throughout the life course, there are social problems associated with different ages. One such social problem is age discrimination. An example of age discrimination is when a particular person is not allowed to do something or is treated differently based on age.

Social Inequality

Social inequality is "the state or quality of being unequal". Inequality is the root of a number of social problems that occur when factors such as gender, disability, race, and age may affect the way a person is treated. A past example of inequality as a social problem is slavery in the United States. Africans brought to America were often enslaved and mistreated, and they did not share the same rights as the white population of America (for example, they were not allowed to vote).

A number of civil rights movements have attempted to, and often succeeded at, advancing equality and extending rights to previously marginalized groups. These include the women's rights movement (beginning around the 1920s), the civil rights movement in the United States for African-American equality (beginning around the 1950s), and the LGBT rights movement beginning around the 1960s.

Education and public schools

Education is unarguably the most important factor in a person's success in society. As a result, social problems can be raised by the unequal distribution of funding between public schools, such as that seen in the United States. The weak organizational policy in the place and the lack of communication between public schools and the federal government have led to major effects on the future generation. Public schools that do not receive high standardized test scores are not being sufficiently funded and as a result, their students are not receiving what should be the maximum level of education.

Work and occupations
Social problems in the workplace include occupational stress, theft, sexual harassment, wage inequality, gender inequality, racial inequality, health care disparities, and many more. In addition, common workplace issues that employees face include interpersonal conflict, communication problems (e.g. gossip), bullying, harassment, discrimination, low motivation and job satisfaction, and performance issues.

Environmental Racism

Environmental racism exists when a particular place or town is subject to problematic environmental practices due to the racial and class components of that space. In general, the place or town is inhabited by lower income and minority groups. Often, there is more pollution, factories, dumping, etc. that produce environmental hazards and health risks which are not seen in more affluent cities, such as those in Bangladesh.

Abortion Debate

The abortion debate is the ongoing controversy surrounding the moral, legal, and religious status of induced abortion In English-speaking countries, the sides involved in the debate are the self-described "pro-choice" and "pro-life" movements. Pro-choice emphasizes the woman's choice whether to terminate a pregnancy. Pro-life proposes the right of the embryo or fetus to gestate to term and be born. Both terms are considered loaded in mainstream media, where terms such as "abortion rights" or "anti-abortion" are generally preferred..

 

** Each movement has, with varying results, sought to influence public opinion and to attain legal support for its position.

Many people believe that abortion is essentially a moral issue, concerning the commencement of human personhood, rights of the fetus, and bodily integrity. The debate has become a political and legal issue in some countries with anti-abortion campaigners seeking to enact, maintain and expand anti-abortion laws, while abortion-rights campaigners seek to repeal or ease such laws while expanding access to abortion. Abortion laws vary considerably between jurisdictions, ranging from outright prohibition of the procedure to public funding of abortion. The availability of safe abortion also varies across the world.

 

As Social Issues evolves we will look at how these concerns are addressed globally and specifically in other countries

What exactly are Social Issues?