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25 Major Social Problems (Examples)

social problems examples and definition

Social Problems constitute a key topic in Sociology. They refer to different kinds of troubles negatively affecting a society, its social structure , and its values.

Social problems can consist of global issues such as poverty, displacement, and terrorism. They can also include issues in a specific society or region, such as the pressing homelessness issue in Seattle and Portland.

Unlike personal problems or natural disasters, social problems are created by society and they can be solved by it.

Definition of Social Problems

In simple terms, social problems are issues that harm a group of people in the society.

They also refer to:

“Social conditions, processes, societal arrangements or attitudes that are commonly perceived to be undesirable, negative, and threatening certain values or interests…” (Jamrozik & Nocella, 1998, p. 1)

Social problems can be seen in a single country or affect the international global society. They can affect the society through harming its harmony, stability, safety or freedom.

Unlike physical issues or natural problems, social problems are related to social processes and social interactions . For instance, while malnutrition might seem like a physical condition, it is actually a social problem resulting from war, conflict, poverty, or abuse.

Most of the social problems are results of social inequality and its implications (Jamrozik & Nocella, 1998). For example, socioeconomic inequality leads to lack of affordable housing and homelessness.

A social problem can be identified by three main characteristics:

  • Social Reasons: A condition must have social reason in order to be considered a social problem.
  • Negative Impacts: A social problem should have a negative impact on the society by threatening its safety, freedom, or other values.
  • Social Solutions: A social problem should be a condition that can be ended by social solutions (Jamrozik & Nocella, 1998). 

Quick Examples of Social Problems

  • Unemployment and Underemployment : While unemployment refers to not having a job, underemployed people only have part-time, casual, or temporary work. Both unemployment and underemployment are social problems on a global level. They harm individuals and communities by limiting their productivity and harming their socioeconomic status.
  • Racial discrimination : Racial discrimination includes all kinds of hostile treatment against an individual or a group based on their race. It is a social problem resulting from racial inequalities. Racial discrimination leads to unfair social and economic conditions for individuals and communities who are discriminated against.
  • Housing Crisis : Lack of affordable housing is an increasing social problem which affects most of the Canadian cities as well as parts of the United States and Europe. It includes rising costs of housing and renting, and it can lead to homelessness.
  • Malnutrition : Lack of access to nutritious and affordable food is a social problem that affects various societies globally. While in countries like Yemen, malnutrition is a result of war and conflict, in some other countries such as the United States it is a result of growing income inequality.
  • Healthcare Shortage : Lack of access to timely and quality healthcare is a social problem that is increasingly affecting Canadian and American societies, leading to extremely long waiting times for seeing a doctor. It also affects the overall quality of mental and physical healthcare negatively.
  • Displacement : Forced migration and displacement of individuals from their home countries is a social problem on a global level. Every year, thousands of people have to become refugees because of wars, conflicts, poverty, and climate change. 
  • Political Corruption : Political corruption refers to the abuse of power by government officials to gain personal benefits. It is a social problem which leads to mistrust and suspicion towards political authorities. 
  • Substance Abuse: The problem with substance abuse is often that it make society less safe, and can bring instability and harm into households with vulnerable people.
  • Obesity: Poor quality food in stores, high cost of fresh food, and poor social education campaigns can lead to obesity which lowers life expectancy.
  • Social Isolation: Social isolation often happens to elderly people or vulnerable populations with low social capital. Their isolation can be detrimental to their mental health.
  • Glass Ceiling : As a result of the social injustices in hiring practices , women make up just 19% of executive positions and 6% of S&P 500 CEO positions.
  • Gender Pay Gap: Women earn 83 cents for every dollar men earn. This is due to a range of complex social and cultural factors .
  • Ageism : This involves the mistreatment or bias against people due to their age. Up to 64 percent of older workers say they have seen age discrimination in the workplace.
  • Gerrymandering : This involves the rigging of electoral districts to preference one part over another. The USA is ranked as a flawed democracy due to gerrymandering.
  • Gender in Education: In the developing world, millions of girls are denied an education due to gender discrimination.
  • Forced Marriage: There are over 15 million people forced to marry against their will around the world. 88% of the victims are women.
  • Religious Discrimination: Christians face government-sanctioned discrimination in 168 countries . Muslims face government-sanctioned discrimination in 121 countries.
  • Child Poverty: Children from poor families in the USA perform 10% lower , on average, in tests scores, and face more mental health issues in childhood.
  • Unequal Service Delivery: Rural and remote areas often suffer most. For example, there are still 71 remote Indigenous communities in Canada without clean drinking water.
  • Human Trafficking: Vulnerable people are often taken from their homes illegally or with coersion so they can work for low wages. There are over 20 million victims of human trafficking worldwide today.
  • Stereotyping: Gender, racial, class-based, and other stereotypes continue to work to suppress people of various social identities.
  • Child Labor: There are 160 million victims of forced labor in the world today. Often, this is because families are too poor to send their children to school.
  • Disability Discrimination: People with disabilities are more likely to face discrimination and physical threats, and less likely to be taken seriously by police.
  • Digital Divide: Poor access to technology is increasing the gap between rich and poor. Only 39% of people in Africa have access to the internet, compared to 94% of people in the United States.
  • Colonial Practices: Indigenous people account for 5% of the global population but make up 15% of the world’s people in extreme poverty.

5 Best Examples

1. social isolation.

Social isolation is a pressing social problem for elderly people. It occurs when elderly people lose contact with their families or their families die out, and no friends or community members are available to step in to help.

It can lead elderly people to fall into depression and, in worse case scenarios, mean they do not have the support to survive in their own homes. Some societies deal with this through free or subsidized assisted living, while others do not have sufficient infrastructure and policies in place to alleviate social isolation.

Note that social isolation may occur at younger ages, especially among the disabled, neurodivergent, and others who struggle to interact with the community.

2. Malnutrition

Malnutrition is a significant social problem both in developed and developing countries, threatening the safety and functioning of these societies.

Many communities in the United States suffer from malnutrition as a result of living in food deserts: Areas which do not have affordable grocery stores or other sources of healthy nutrition in close proximity (Christian et al., 2020).

Another reason for malnutrition is having an eating disorder, such as anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder. Studies show that eating disorders are an ongoing problem among teenagers, particularly teenage girls (Chamay-Weber et al., 2005).

3. Substance Abuse

Substance abuse is a social problem that causes thousands of deaths in Canada and other parts of the world (Rehm et al., 2006).

It also harms the society by causing healthcare costs, law enforcement costs, and loss of safety and productivity (Rehm et al., 2006).

Studies show that substance abuse closely interact with other social problems includng lack of access to proper mental healthcare and homelessness (Folsom et al., 2005). Increasingly, society is addressing this addiction as a mental health problem rather than a criminal one in order to help people to recover.

4. Housing Crisis

Housing crisis refers to the shortage of affordable, safe, and available housing and shelter options in a region. It also includes more specific social problems such as homelessness and housing insecurity.

Housing crisis has been prevalent in several North American and European cities for a long time.

However, recent global health events have worsened the crisis by increasing housing prices and rents in multiple countries such as the United States and Turkey (Li & Zhang, 2021; Subaşı & Baycan, 2022).

As a social problem, the housing crisis negatively affects the society by adding to the existing socioeconomic inequalities and making disadvantaged communities more vulnerable.

5. Displacement

Forced migration and displacement are global social problems which currently affect more than 89 million people worldwide (UNHCR, 2022).

Each year, millions of people have to escape from their home countries because of wars, conflicts, persecution, or climate change (UNHCR, 2022).

As social problems, forced migration and displacement reflect the injustices faced by refugees and asylum seekers who experience unsafe living conditions.

Thousands of asylum seekers lose their lives by drowning in the Mediterranean Sea each year while trying to reach Europe (Statista, 2021).

In many cases, refugees continue to face challenges even after reaching a safe country.  In this sense displacement also interacts with other social problems such as racial discrimination.

Social problems refer to various types of issues and troubles that negatively affect a society’s safety, freedom, harmony, and other values.

Social problems are different from individual, physical, and natural problems as they have societal roots. They are social conditions that harm or threaten the society in any way. They can be solved through social means and measures.

Social problems can exist in one specific society, or they can affect multiple societies globally. Examples of contemporary social problems include poverty, homelessness, and displacement.

It is important to study and understand social problems as they illustrate how different forms of social inequalities can harm the society in various ways.

Chamay-Weber, C., Narring, F., & Michaud, P. A. (2005). Partial eating disorders among adolescents: A review. Journal of adolescent health , 37 (5), 416-426.

Christian, V. J., Miller, K. R., & Martindale, R. G. (2020). Food insecurity, malnutrition, and the microbiome. Current nutrition reports , 9 (4), 356-360.

Folsom, D. P., Hawthorne, W., Lindamer, L., Gilmer, T., Bailey, A., Golshan, S., … & Jeste, D. V. (2005). Prevalence and risk factors for homelessness and utilization of mental health services among 10,340 patients with serious mental illness in a large public mental health system. American Journal of Psychiatry , 162 (2), 370-376.

Jamrozik, A., & Nocella, L. (1998). The sociology of social problems: Theoretical perspectives and methods of intervention . Cambridge University Press.

Rehm, J., Baliunas, D., Brochu, S., Fischer, B., Gnam, W., Patra, J., … & Taylor, B. (2006). The costs of substance abuse in Canada 2002.

Statista. (2021, September 17). Deaths of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea 2021 . Statista. Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/1082077/deaths-of-migrants-in-the-mediterranean-sea/

UNHCR. (2022). Global Trends . UNHCR. Retrieved from https://www.unhcr.org/globaltrends

Sanam

Sanam Vaghefi (PhD Candidate)

Sanam Vaghefi (BSc, MA) is a Sociologist, educator and PhD Candidate. She has several years of experience at the University of Victoria as a teaching assistant and instructor. Her research on sociology of migration and mental health has won essay awards from the Canadian Sociological Association and the IRCC. Currently, she is am focused on supporting students online under her academic coaching and tutoring business Lingua Academic Coaching OU.

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Chris

Chris Drew (PhD)

This article was peer-reviewed and edited by Chris Drew (PhD). The review process on Helpful Professor involves having a PhD level expert fact check, edit, and contribute to articles. Reviewers ensure all content reflects expert academic consensus and is backed up with reference to academic studies. Dr. Drew has published over 20 academic articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education and holds a PhD in Education from ACU.

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2 thoughts on “25 Major Social Problems (Examples)”

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Dear Sanam Vaghefi, I am a retired Environmental Engineer, working on a book project now. I am trying to write a chapter on the relationships between social problems and environmental issues, to suggest how low income communities can work on both kinds of these issues on self-help basis. I congratulate you for writing such a beautiful and sensible article, which is the best piece of text I found on the internet, and which is EXACTLY what I needed. I wish you best luck in your PhD research. Please accept my sincere thanks for sharing your valuable effort online. You are a hero. My thanks also to Dr. Chris Drew, and your supervisors, and every one who is helping you! If I succeed in completing the book, I will proudly cite your name where I use points from your text! Regards, Wali

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I read flowed and I agreed to 100% these liste of social problems

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Essay On Social Issues

500 words essay on social issues.

Social Issues is an undesirable state which opposes society or a certain part of society. It refers to an unwanted situation that frequently results in problems and continues to harm society . Social issues can cause a lot of problems that can be beyond the control of just one person. Through an essay on social issues, we will learn why they are harmful and what types of social issues we face.

Essay On Social Issues

Drawbacks of Social Issues

Social issues have a lot of drawbacks that harms our society. They are situations that have an adverse and damaging result on our society. They arise when the public leaves nature or society from an ideal situation.

If you look closely, you will realize that almost all types of social issues have common origins. In the sense that they all are interconnected somehow. Meaning to say, if one solves the other one is also most likely to resolve.

Social issues have a massive lousy effect on our society and ultimately, it affects all of us. In order to solve some social issues, we need a common approach. No society is free from social issues, almost every one of them has some social issue or the other.

For instance, in India, you will find a lot of social issues which the country is facing. It ranges from the caste system to child labour and gender inequality to religious conflicts. Thus, we are going through a critical time where we all must come together to free our society from undesirable social evils.

Get the huge list of more than 500 Essay Topics and Ideas

Major Social Issues

There are a lot of social issues we are facing right now, some more prominent than the others. First of all, poverty is a worldwide issue. It gives birth to a lot of other social issues which we must try to get away with at the earliest.

Further, countries like India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and more are facing the issue of the caste system since times unknown. It results in a lot of caste violence and inequality which takes the lives of many on a daily basis.

Moreover, child labour is another major social issue that damages the lives of young children. Similarly, illiteracy also ruins the lives of many by destroying their chances of a bright future.

In developing countries mostly, child marriage still exists and is responsible for ruining many lives. Similarly, dowry is a very serious and common social issue that almost all classes of people partake in.

Another prominent social issue is gender inequality which takes away many opportunities from deserving people. Domestic violence especially against women is a serious social issue we must all fight against.

Other social issues include starvation, child sex abuse, religious conflicts, child trafficking, terrorism , overpopulation, untouchability, communalism and many more. It is high time we end these social issues.

Conclusion of the Essay on Social Issues

A society can successfully end social issues if they become adamant. These social issues act as a barrier to the progress of society. Thus, we must all come together to fight against them and put them to an end for the greater good.

FAQ on Essay on Social Issues

Question 1: What is the meaning of social problem?

Answer 1: A social problem refers to any condition or behaviour which has a negative impact on a large number of people. It is normally recognized as a condition or behaviour that needs to be addressed.

Question 2: What are the effects of social issues?

Answer 2: Social issues affect our society adversely. Most importantly, it disturbs the harmony of society and gives rise to hostility and suspicion. Moreover, it creates large-scale social dissatisfaction, suffering and misery.

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A List of 470 Powerful Social Issues Essay Topics

In modern societies, people do everything to live peacefully. Still, tensions often arise. We call them social issues when they start negatively impacting a specific group of people. Poverty, discrimination, and addiction are examples of such problems. We need to confront them to ensure equal treatment for everyone.

Our specialists will write a custom essay specially for you!

Our professional custom writing team created this article to help you write a social issues essay. This comprehensive social issues topics list covers various current problems in America and in the world. Choose among 450 social topics, and get down to writing!

  • 🔝 Top 10 Topics

✅ How to Write About Social Issues

  • 🌐 Social Media Issues Topics
  • 🏥 Health-Related Issues
  • 🌳 Environmental Issues
  • 🔫 War & Violence
  • 🚓 Police & Criminal Justice
  • 👨👩 Gender-Related Issues
  • 🧔🏿 Racism Topics
  • ✈️ Migration & Refugees
  • ⚖️ Human Rights Topics
  • 🗽 Social Issues in America

🔝 Top 10 Social Issues Topics

  • Types of prisoner rights violations.
  • Can vaccinations be mandatory?
  • What makes overpopulation a threat?
  • Online education as a cause of obesity.
  • The economic effect of rising sea levels.
  • The effects of Gender Pay Gap on economy.
  • Ways to stop racial discrimination in schools.
  • Can increase of employment help reduce poverty?
  • Women empowerment and social development.
  • Can mobile clinics make healthcare more accessible?

Writing on topics related to social issues involves thorough research. It also requires sympathy and tact. Following this guide will help you not to step on anybody’s toes.

  • Research papers call for an in-depth analysis. Make sure to reference several sources to back up your claims.
  • Essays revolve around your opinion. Here, good arguments are crucial.
  • Pick the topic . It can be either contemporary or historical. It’s better to choose something you’re interested in. If nothing comes to mind right away, use a writing topic generator .
  • Do research . Consult encyclopedias, find books on the topic. It will help you formulate ideas and outline the first draft.
  • Consider your audience . How much do they know about your subject? How invested are they? Understanding your readers will help you be more considerate.
  • Even if you have strong feelings about your subject, keep your tone neutral. Make sure not to condemn those who hold opposite views.
  • Highlight what you personally think is right. Remember that you can’t control how other people will react.
  • Be frank. Ask yourself: who am I? How do my experiences fit into my topic? Your honest answers will add unique insights to your paper.
  • Double-check your paper. Does everything you wrote logically flow? Does your argumentative structure make sense? Does it support your thesis? If possible, let your assignment sit for a day. You can edit it later with a fresh perspective.

These are the basics you need if you want to write about social issues. Now you can start your research! The first step is to pick one of the excellent topics about social problems from the list below.

🌐 Social Issues Essay Topics Related to Social Media

  • Security issues of social media .
  • Should Instagram be age-restricted?
  • Social networks’ impact on friendships.
  • Disadvantages of being an influencer .
  • Is there freedom of speech in social media?
  • Should social media ban fake information?
  • How harmful is social media dependency?
  • Should employers check employees’ accounts?
  • Online ethics and business Facebook accounts.
  • The effect of the cancel culture on mental health.
  • Cyberbullying: victim and abuser in the online environment.
  • Should children be allowed to have social media accounts?
  • Your opinion on memorial pages on social networks for the deceased.
  • Ways to stay safe on the internet.

Cyber abuse.

  • How should social media websites deal with hate speech ?
  • Is removing abusive content censorship?
  • Explore the correlation between social media and mental disorders.
  • Does Instagram change the way we perceive our lives?
  • Is modern society forcing us to participate in social networking ?
  • What is identity theft ?
  • Personal isolation and technology in communication.
  • The risks of microtransactions in online gaming .
  • How does your digital presence influence your real life?
  • Why do some people become dependent on social media ?
  • Are online networks promoting stalking ?
  • Discuss the digital divide in Washington.
  • Is Twitter’s cancel culture doing more harm than good?
  • How do marginalized groups benefit from social media?
  • How important is data safety?
  • Are people on social media more aggressive than in real life?
  • Does the internet shorten our attention span ?
  • Ways in which social media impacts your interactions with other people.
  • Marketing, social media, and you: how do influencers impact your buying behavior?
  • Explore the effect of the internet on students’ lives.
  • Is Reddit right to allow outrageous content under the principle of free speech ?
  • Politics and Twitter: the consequences of Donald Trump’s tweets .
  • Does banning online networks from the workplace increase productivity?
  • What basic ethical principles go overboard on the Internet ?
  • In how far do social media trends reflect on the general public?
  • Social media and youth: does it make puberty harder?
  • The influence of social media platforms on democracy.
  • What would happen if we could rate everyone online? (Think Community ’s episode “App Development and Condiments”)
  • Does Instagram inspire a healthy lifestyle ?
  • Why are likes so important?
  • Debate the effects of speaking out in online communities.
  • Are Facebook’s profile picture frames a good way of showing support?
  • Debate social media policies and code of conduct.
  • Is YouTube spreading propaganda?
  • Did you ever do something because you’ve read about it on the internet?
  • Are Twitter hashtags skewing the political discourse?
  • Examine the gendered experiences of people on the internet.
  • How do you make yourself heard on social media?
  • Evaluate the usefulness of Facebook’s Safety Check feature.
  • Discuss the pros and cons of TikTok challenges.
  • How does participating in Instagram challenges for social justice help?

🏥 Health-Related Social Issues Topics to Write About

Our health largely depends on the social security system. With access to good healthcare services, we are less likely to develop preventable diseases. Unfortunately, issues are common in the health sector. These interesting essay writing prompts will help you explore social problems related to health:

  • Are employers not paying enough attention to their employees’ mental health ?
  • What should a person do if they can’t afford medical treatment?
  • Why do some countries have higher obesity rates than others?
  • Should abortion be legal or illegal?
  • Debate whether a ban on tobacco advertising would help decrease smoking.
  • What makes Americans start doing drugs ?
  • Compare projects that help people overcome their addictions .
  • What is the worst substance to be addicted to?
  • Who should care for the elders ?
  • Should hospices be free?
  • Examine why HIV in seniors remains widely unrecognized.
  • Should we change the drinking age limit?
  • Whose health is mostly affected by pollution ?
  • Should parents avoid vaccinating their children?
  • What does it mean to die with dignity ?
  • Should women get extra vacation days at work because of their periods?
  • Explore the origins of the pro-life movement .
  • Should non-smokers receive additional break time?
  • Ways to make navigating easier for visually impaired people .
  • Discuss stigma against mentally challenged individuals.
  • The benefits of over-the-counter contraception.
  • Must women who breastfeed in public cover themselves up?
  • Psychoactive drugs in the treatment of psychological diseases.
  • Disabilities and stigmatization: how does being disabled affect one’s social status?
  • Does gender play an important role in one’s health?
  • What health issues are affecting African Americans and Hispanics?
  • Expectations and motherhood: being a childfree woman in a kid-centered society.
  • How does being malnourished affect a child’s psyche in the long run?
  • Investigate suicide rates in Pakistan.
  • Discuss the social acceptance of autism spectrum disorders .
  • Sociology and psychological diseases: the relationship between circumstance and mental health.
  • Write about fad diets and their impact.
  • How does the society you live in discriminate against older adults?
  • Why is access to quality healthcare unevenly distributed?
  • Who should decide when to stop life-prolonging treatments?
  • Is homeopathic treatment for children acceptable?
  • Describe why going to psychotherapy is widely stigmatized.
  • What are the social determinants of health?
  • Why is access to healthcare in rural areas so scarce?
  • Is the propagation of mindfulness and self-care on social media improving our health?

Smoking is.

  • Examine the connection between poverty and health problems.
  • Where does our society’s general obsession with weight come from?
  • Do cultural norms promote drinking alcohol to an unhealthy extent?
  • Is coffee a drug?
  • How does the depiction of drug use in the media influence the youth?

🌳 Environmental Social Issues Essay Topics

Environmentalism is not just about saving nature. A damaged environment has adverse effects on humanity and its future. Changing weather and frequent natural disasters affect millions of people. Many are forced to flee their homes. Essays on this subject can cover activism or sustainability.

Just in 1 hour! We will write you a plagiarism-free paper in hardly more than 1 hour

  • Is Extinction Rebellion’s form of protest too radical?
  • What to avoid when traveling in the age of climate change .
  • How can we ensure global access to drinking water ?
  • The impact of bottled water on the environment.
  • Water conservation methods in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • The influence of tourism on cultural heritage sites.
  • How does society need to change in the future to slow down climate change ?
  • What caused the rise in climate activism in recent years?
  • Innovation vs. tradition: getting traditional farmers to implement new sustainable technology.
  • Describe the importance of waste reduction for our ecosystems.
  • How can we use our natural resources responsibly?
  • Discuss what a sustainable diet is like.
  • The role of packaging in marketing, food safety, and environment.
  • Why do people deny human-made climate change ?
  • Why should sociologists study the environment?
  • What made us reliant on single-use plastic products?
  • Discuss green infrastructure in water management.
  • Debate how Greenpeace influences political decision making.
  • In your opinion, what’s the best environmental organization to donate to?
  • How successful is PETA in helping animals?
  • Should mandatory volunteer work substitute compulsory military service?
  • Urban gardening as a means to ensure food security .
  • The effect of self-driving electric vehicles on urban environments.
  • Compare types of sustainable futuristic cities in literature.
  • How does global warming impact indigenous peoples in South America?
  • What effects does a deteriorating environment have on labor conditions?
  • Explain what Oxfam does.
  • How does globalization impact sustainable agriculture?
  • What are the most significant achievements of environmental activists in recent years?
  • What makes politicians hesitant to take action against climate change ?
  • Investigate what happened to the population of Isle de Jean Charles.
  • Climate refugees: examine the disasters that cause people to flee their homes.
  • What are the unintentional consequences of climate-related relocation projects?
  • Explore the connection between nature and religion.
  • Ecology and economics: ways to find a balance.
  • Communities and health: how the way we handle the environment impacts the spread of disease.
  • Investigate methods for responsible consumption.
  • Why is sustainable development important for societies?

World Health Organization.

  • Contrast the methods of various environmentalist movements.
  • The world’s overpopulation: causes and effects.
  • Why can it be difficult to convince older generations to take action against climate change ?
  • What are the best things everyone can do to protect the environment ?
  • The role of zoos in wildlife endangerment.
  • How do changing weather patterns impact our homes?
  • What caused the increase in natural disasters over the last decade?

🔫 Social Issues Topics: War & Violence

Scientists still debate if violence is a part of human nature. Wars and terrorist attacks are disastrous events that traumatize millions of people. Still, it’s crucial not to forget about more subtle forms of violence. These include emotional neglect, bullying, and brutality in medical care.

  • What are the main reasons for nations to wage war?
  • Mental disorders and vulnerability to homicidal death.
  • The restoration of Germany after the Second World War.
  • Domestic violence in 20th century Canada.
  • Describe the most common types of violence against teenagers.
  • How does a country’s political situation impact domestic violence ?
  • Do splatter movies promote violent behavior ?
  • Should girls dress modestly to avoid being abused?
  • What is the use of war monuments?
  • The issue of girl education in India.
  • How does war influence the development of children?
  • Analyze the accuracy of the events depicted in Sam Mendes’ film 1917 .
  • Everything Quiet on the Western Front and the youth’s attitude towards fighting.
  • The treatment of veterans in your community.
  • Why do people join the army?
  • Connection between school bullying and problems in adult life.
  • What are the most common reasons for murder ?
  • How can a family move on after their child has been kidnapped?
  • Why are veterans more likely to commit suicide than average citizens?
  • Is human trafficking modern-day slavery?
  • Investigate how citizens of Cape Town deal with the high crime rate in their city.
  • What events can lead to an increase in crime?
  • Explain the socio-economic aftermaths of the Afghanistan war .
  • Examine the success of Columbia’s DESEPAZ program.
  • What is the origin of domestic violence?
  • Do schools in your country work effectively to discourage abusive behavior towards girls?
  • Why do men tend not to report domestic violence ?
  • How does emotional neglect impact children?
  • What are the best ways to prevent street violence?
  • Is there a connection between the strictness of gun laws and homicide rates ?
  • Why do women hesitate to report rape cases?
  • Rape and sexual harassment in the military .
  • An overview of Japanese mafia culture.
  • The connection between education and violence.
  • Who profits from war?
  • Are the US military expenses justified?
  • What does the “guns vs. butter” model describe?
  • Give examples of cultural norms justifying violence.
  • In how far has globalization impacted violent behavior ?
  • What triggers aggression against healthcare workers?
  • Ways to manage verbal abuse in social care.
  • Examine the Chinese phenomenon of Yi Nao.
  • Investigate the recent decriminalization of domestic abuse in Russia.
  • What was the impact of the #metoo movement ?
  • Bullying and sexual harassment at workplace.

🚓 Police & Criminal Justice Topics to Write About

Everyone should feel safe in their community. That’s what a country’s criminal justice system is for. But humans can make mistakes and be biased. Not everyone feels protected by the current system. What can we do to change that? Explore this question in one of the following creative topics:

  • What does the phrase “ defund the police ” mean?
  • What makes you feel safe in your community?
  • Describe the social standing of police officers in your country.
  • Examine if there’s evidence of structural racism in the police.
  • Is it possible to achieve true equality ?
  • Are all professions in criminal justice equally prestigious?
  • Discuss the concept of juvenile crimes.
  • Debate castration as a punishment for sexual offenders.
  • The influence of the internet on human trafficking .
  • What could the police be substituted with?
  • How does racial profiling work?
  • Should people who abuse drugs go to jail?
  • How do people become homeless in big cities?
  • Discuss the legitimization of prostitution.
  • What causes governments to oppose gay marriage ?
  • The safest ways to deescalate riots.
  • What are the best methods to discourage people from committing crimes ?
  • Define civil disobedience and its goals.
  • Victimology and traditional justice system alternatives.
  • What makes white-collar crimes more socially acceptable than others?
  • Reintroducing prisoners to society: obstacles and consequences.
  • Would society profit from the abolition of prisons?
  • What are the advantages of community services ?

Montesquieu quote.

  • How does crime differ in various social classes?
  • Justice for women: the legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
  • How do prejudices influence criminal justice mechanics?
  • Human services issues from the point of income inequality.
  • Why was the Hong Kong national security law installed?
  • How did legalizing all drugs affect Portuguese society?
  • What are the prominent civil rights issues in your country?
  • The Captain of Köpenick : the psychological effect of uniforms.
  • Why was racial segregation widely accepted in America?
  • How do witness protection programs work?
  • The right to privacy vs. safety: a case for surveillance cameras.
  • How can one save their reputation after committing a crime?
  • Compare the four deviance theories in sociology .
  • To what extent can biology explain criminal behavior ?
  • Do police officers need guns?
  • Should law enforcers need to request permission before using firearms ?
  • How did dismantling the police department in Camden, NJ impact crime?
  • Explore the connection between militarization and police violence.
  • What does the principle of qualified immunity entail?
  • Debate the use of body cameras by police officers .
  • Police violence and subterfuge.
  • What are the social benefits of jury duty?

👨👩 Gender-Related Social Issues Essay Topics

Even today, a lot of people are systematically disadvantaged because of their gender. This problem manifests itself not only in the infamous gender pay gap. For example, in the US, transgender people are banned from serving in the army. And in some countries, women are still denied fundamental rights. If you want to get to the heart of contemporary controversial issues, this section is for you.

  • Why is the number of women in positions of power still low?
  • Are quotas the only way to guarantee equal hiring processes?
  • Pros and cons of unisex bathrooms.
  • Why are matriarchal societies rare?
  • Describe how the patriarchy holds back women.
  • Conflicting theories: gay marriage and feminism.
  • Does feminism need to be radical?
  • How does gendered marketing affect child development ?
  • Should insurance companies pay for sex reassignment therapy?
  • Reasons why some people have problems with they/them pronouns.
  • What does it mean to be non-binary?
  • Investigate the treatment of women in Saudi Arabian society .
  • What makes a profession traditionally female?
  • Should women be more encouraged to join the military ?
  • Why is it more challenging for men to get full custody ?
  • Find historical examples of women who made a change in their society.
  • Should professors be required to include more women authors in their reading material?
  • Examine the treatment of the transgender community in healthcare.
  • Is gender a purely social construct?
  • What can a woman do to become more empowered ?
  • Can a patriarchal society ever achieve true gender equality ?
  • Are Disney princesses good role models?
  • Examine the representation of gender variety in popular TV shows.
  • Gender identity: promotion of equality for sexual orientation.
  • Discuss the connection between gender-biased language and oppression.
  • Why are sexist marketing practices still legal?
  • Should girls capitalize on their attractive looks?
  • Define the term “gender blindness.”
  • Do school uniforms promote gender inequality?
  • Bibiana Steinhaus: a female referee.
  • Discuss how the battle of the sexes impacted society.
  • Should men be entitled to more extended paternity leave ?
  • Can religion ensure equality?
  • How do stereotypes against women decrease their chances of getting hired?
  • Why do millions of women still have to choose between having a family or a career?
  • Explain the gender dynamics in development.
  • Should men and women play and compete in mixed sports teams?
  • What do beauty pageants teach girls?
  • Debate the importance of LGBT studies.
  • What causes gender dysphoria?
  • Do blockbuster films have the responsibility to advocate for equality?
  • Does society need gender roles to function properly?
  • What makes same-sex marriage a controversial topic in many countries?
  • Examine adoption laws for gay couples.
  • Compare gender-based violence in the UK vs. Iran.

🧔🏿 Social Topics for Essays on Racism

Slavery is abolished everywhere in the world. Still, it didn’t put an end to racism. There’s a lot of racial bias fueled by insecurity and ignorance. Because of this, ethnic minorities rarely enjoy equal opportunities. An essay on racism can raise awareness of the problem by shedding light on racial injustice.

  • How has racism changed over the past hundred years?
  • Queer of color: history and theory.
  • Who were the Khmer Rouge ?
  • Trace the development of anti-discrimination laws in your country.
  • What caused populist groups to gain popularity in recent years?
  • Did Donald Trump’s presidency increase racism towards Latin Americans?
  • What socio-economic issues do African American families face?
  • Is there a connection between racism and social progress?
  • Would there be no racism without colonialism ?
  • Discuss subtle forms of everyday racism.
  • Should women in teaching positions be allowed to wear hijabs ?
  • Nelson Mandela and the fight against apartheid .
  • What makes people scared of minorities ?
  • Who benefits from structural racism ?
  • Find out how racism manifests itself in your native language.
  • Compare the types of social segmentation.
  • Is the use of the n-word in hip hop empowering?
  • How did imperialism impact Okonkwo’s life in Things Fall Apart ?
  • In which areas of life are black Americans institutionally disadvantaged?
  • Is it appropriate for white people to wear hoop earrings?
  • The best ways to educate children about race.
  • How does cultural appropriation become harmful?
  • Racial prejudice in the movie industry.

Mahatma Gandhi quote.

  • Your position on companies renaming well-known brands to avoid claims of racism .
  • Discuss the problem of racism at institutional and interactional levels.
  • Will racism ever end?
  • Is “All lives matter” a racist statement?
  • How does environmental racism affect the living conditions of minorities?
  • Investigate the historical persecution of the Romani people.
  • What makes people racist nowadays?
  • The internet’s contribution to alleviating racism.
  • Cultivation of racism in the American society.
  • How much of a problem is reverse discrimination?
  • Trace the history of lynching and mob violence against blacks in the American South.
  • Who was Leo Frank?
  • How does discrimination differ in rich vs. developing countries?
  • Racism as a barrier to educational opportunities.
  • Does social media help fight racist bias?
  • How to responsibly handle classic movies and literature with racial prejudices .
  • What constitutes a healthy national identity ?
  • How does modern television portray minorities ?
  • Does your country’s healthcare system disadvantage minorities ?
  • Investigate what happens to the Rohingya people in Malaysia.
  • Is antisemitism still a problem in your country?
  • Does nationalism always lead to racism?

✈️ Social Awareness Topics on Migration & Refugees

Migration can have a beneficial effect on a host country’s economy. For instance, migrants can provide vital additional workforce. But an overflow of newcomers can also lead to problems. Most notably, it affects a nations’ cultural and social landscapes. “How should we deal with refugees?” is one of the most challenging political questions today.

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  • How has migration changed over the past 20 years?
  • Mexican immigration as a political controversy.
  • Why do migrants from the Middle East face more prejudice than those from Central Europe?
  • Describe the types of events that can cause major forced displacement .
  • How should governments plan for migration?
  • Why do many people in Europe have a negative attitude towards refugees ?
  • Why are foreign workers important to every nation’s economy?
  • Effective ways to integrate displaced people.
  • Critique Arizona’s new immigration laws.
  • Have refugee camps ever been a solution to the problem?
  • What drives people to immigrate illegally ?
  • Should the US’ sanctuary cities be dissolved?
  • Describe the notion of ecological migration.
  • Should Europe take in more refugees ?
  • Compare resettlement models in Canada vs. Australia.
  • What’s the difference between expats and migrants?
  • What factors make illegal immigration undesirable?
  • Has the public perception of migrants changed over the past years?
  • How important is it that immigrants speak their host country’s language?
  • What does social integration ideally consist of?
  • Discuss Chinese settlement patterns in America.
  • The advantages of dropping visa restrictions.
  • How did 9/11 affect the public’s perception of the global movement?
  • Is it morally right to marry someone just for their passport?
  • Do illegal immigrants negatively impact their host country’s society?
  • Does migration cause destabilization?
  • What does the claim “no one is illegal” advocate?
  • How does the American green card lottery work?
  • Should a child born in a foreign country automatically receive citizenship ?
  • American society wouldn’t exist without immigration . Why is it still so hostile towards foreigners?
  • Explore the link between global movement and the spread of diseases.
  • Should the government use taxpayer money to upskill refugees ?
  • Immigrants in Toronto: social and economic challenges.
  • Can expats from a distinct cultural background ever integrate into a country that doesn’t share their norms?
  • Discuss the importance of diversity to society.
  • Is there a connection between immigration rates and crime?
  • Should expats be eligible for welfare programs ?
  • Where’s the line between cultural appropriation and integration?
  • Can binational relationships work?
  • How do you become a stateless person?
  • What rights do asylum seekers have in your country?
  • Is immigration from developing countries a threat to wealthier nations?
  • Explore moral panics associated with other ethnicities.
  • What makes Europe attractive to expats?
  • Describe the common prejudices refugees have to face in Australia.

⚖️ Social Justice Essay Topics on Human Rights

You probably agree that every human deserves access to fundamental rights. Unfortunately, these are continually under threat. And it doesn’t always happen far away from you. Women, the LGBT community, and many others fight for their rights every single day.

  • Are limitations of human rights during crises justified?
  • Should we strive to achieve the same rights globally?
  • Is male circumcision shortly after birth a violation of human rights?
  • How do you prevent low-income families from sending their children to work ?
  • Capital punishment vs. the right to live.
  • Can dictatorships ensure human rights ?

Martin Luther King Jr. quote.

  • Is using sensitive language incriminating our freedom of speech?
  • Describe the achievements of Amnesty International.
  • Should Europe stop business interactions with countries that violate human rights ?
  • Examine effective ways to combat food shortages in the Global South.
  • How can governments secure freedom of speech ?
  • Should access to the internet be included as a fundamental human right?
  • Are restrictive laws concerning hijabs violating religious freedom ?
  • Charlie Hebdo and its Muhammad cartoons: did they go too far?
  • When does satire become harmful?
  • Examine how human rights are treated in the pornography industry.
  • Why are LGBT people around the world not granted the same rights as everyone else?
  • Balancing labor conditions and demand: human rights in the economy.
  • Who protects stateless persons?
  • What has changed since the first declaration of human rights?
  • How was slavery justified back in the day?
  • Why do women in many countries still not have the same rights as men?
  • The Handmaid’s Tale : how is the society in Gilead structured?
  • Discuss how vital the rights to freedom of thought and expression are.
  • To which rights should prisoners have access to?
  • Debate the fairness of the utilitarian approach.
  • How do NGOs help to ensure human rights in Somalia?
  • Human rights and the Bible : how does the church get away with violations?
  • Define different perspectives on what constitutes freedom .
  • What are the most significant human rights issues today?
  • Ethics and the media: exploiting personal tragedies for attention.
  • Prisoners are humans, too: rights violations in Guantanamo.
  • Is combating climate change a human rights issue?
  • Are cruel traditions such as honor killings justified if they are socially accepted?
  • How successful is the European Commission of Human Rights?
  • Is the death penalty a justified measure nowadays?
  • Should pets have the same rights as humans?
  • Define the difference between civil and human rights.
  • If there’s gay pride, why shouldn’t there be straight pride?
  • Unequal privilege: legal, religious, and social factors.
  • What would happen if education were free and accessible to everyone?
  • State terrorism vs. critical terrorism.
  • Did globalization make us freer?
  • Is the wellbeing of the majority more important than the wellbeing of a minority?
  • When, if ever, should men and women have different rights?

🗽 Current Social Issues Topics in America

With its variety of races and cultures, America faces many social issues. Its deeply divided political parties add more fuel to the fire. African American rights and police brutality are some of the most pressing issues in the US today.

  • Consequences of fortifying the American-Mexican border wall.
  • Should illegal immigrants always be deported when found?
  • Is the democratic system in the US in need of reform?
  • What are the social causes of obesity in the USA?
  • Negative side effects of the war on drugs .
  • How important is bipartisan cooperation?
  • What difference does it make if Russia meddled in the 2016 elections?
  • Police brutality: reasons and countermeasures.
  • Discuss the importance of reducing medical costs.
  • Racism and the police: is it an institutional problem?
  • What are the strictest cultural taboos in American society?
  • Are there enough women in American leadership positions?
  • Is sexism a significant problem in the States?
  • Describe the consequences of voter fraud.
  • Should schools teach students to be more patriotic ?
  • Discuss prescription drug abuse in America.
  • College student debt : is it a fair price to pay for a good education?
  • Will police presence in schools help curb violence?
  • What drugs should be legalized vs. remain illegal?
  • Debate the quality of political education in your state.
  • Is fake news a severe problem?
  • Financial literacy as a compulsory subject in high school.
  • How do you destigmatize taboo topics in society?
  • Why do conversations about periods make people feel uncomfortable?
  • Social causes of eating disorders in adults.
  • Discuss how various religions can live together peacefully.
  • Describe the NIMBY phenomenon.
  • What are the benefits and limitations of needle exchange programs?
  • Find reasons why peaceful protests turn into violent riots.
  • Are students in the US nowadays under too much stress ?
  • What are the harmful effects of urban sprawl ?
  • Can your vote make a difference?
  • Do American schools need to offer better sex education classes?
  • What makes people believe the Earth is flat ?
  • Why do conspiracy theories spread so quickly nowadays?
  • Traffic in California: reasons to invest in public transport.
  • Are charter schools better than public schools?
  • Compare the most prominent social movements currently active in America.
  • The legacy of Occupy Wall Street.
  • Describe the pros and cons of the Green New Deal.
  • How successful is special education in the US?
  • What causes gentrification in American cities?
  • Is immigration a strain on the American job market ?
  • Tackle the problem of prison overcrowding.
  • Investigate the effects of ableism in the States.

That’s all we’ve got for you. We hope this article was helpful. Good luck with your essay writing!

You might also be interested in:

  • 512 Research Topics on HumSS (Humanities & Social Sciences)
  • 147 Social Studies Topics for Your Research Project
  • 480 Sociology Questions & Topics with Bonus Tips
  • 560 Unique Controversial Topics & Tips for a Great Essay
  • 193 Interesting Proposal Essay Topics and Ideas
  • 197 Motivational & Inspirational Essay Topics
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🔍 References

  • Lifestyles & Social Issues: Encyclopedia Britannica
  • Controversial/Contemporary Issues: How to Write a Research Paper: Campbell University
  • 3 Insights Into Writing about Social Issues: Jane Friedman
  • Key Issues: eSafety Commissioner
  • Top 10 Most Common Health Issues: University of Rochester Medical Center
  • Top 10 Most Important Environmental Issues: Iberdrola.com
  • War: Social Problems: University of Minnesota
  • Violence: a Global Public Health Problem: WHO
  • What Are the Biggest Problems Women Face Today?: Politico Magazine
  • Issues: National Center for Transgender Equality
  • List of Issues about Racism: The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • Potential implications of Increasing Significance of Migration: EU
  • The Biggest Issues Facing Migrants Today — and What We Can Do to Solve Them: World Economic Forum
  • How Americans See Major National Issues: Pew Research Center
  • Social Issues and Human Rights: United Nations Environment
  • Crime & Criminal Justice: Brookings
  • Social Problems: Oxford Academic Press
  • Criminal Justice: ProPublica
  • Structural Racism in America: Urban Institute
  • Racism and Health: American Public Health Association
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1.2 Sociological Perspectives on Social Problems

Learning objectives.

  • Define the sociological imagination.
  • Explain what is meant by the blaming-the-victim belief.
  • Summarize the most important beliefs and assumptions of functionalism and conflict theory.
  • Summarize the most important beliefs and assumptions of symbolic interactionism and exchange theory.

The sociological understanding of social problems rests heavily on the concept of the sociological imagination . We discuss this concept in some detail before turning to various theoretical perspectives that provide a further context for understanding social problems.

The Sociological Imagination

Many individuals experience one or more social problems personally. For example, many people are poor and unemployed, many are in poor health, and many have family problems, drink too much alcohol, or commit crime. When we hear about these individuals, it is easy to think that their problems are theirs alone, and that they and other individuals with the same problems are entirely to blame for their difficulties.

Sociology takes a different approach, as it stresses that individual problems are often rooted in problems stemming from aspects of society itself. This key insight informed C. Wright Mills’s (1959) (Mills, 1959) classic distinction between personal troubles and public issues . Personal troubles refer to a problem affecting individuals that the affected individual, as well as other members of society, typically blame on the individual’s own personal and moral failings. Examples include such different problems as eating disorders, divorce, and unemployment. Public issues , whose source lies in the social structure and culture of a society, refer to social problems affecting many individuals. Problems in society thus help account for problems that individuals experience. Mills felt that many problems ordinarily considered private troubles are best understood as public issues, and he coined the term sociological imagination to refer to the ability to appreciate the structural basis for individual problems.

To illustrate Mills’s viewpoint, let’s use our sociological imaginations to understand some contemporary social problems. We will start with unemployment, which Mills himself discussed. If only a few people were unemployed, Mills wrote, we could reasonably explain their unemployment by saying they were lazy, lacked good work habits, and so forth. If so, their unemployment would be their own personal trouble. But when millions of people are out of work, unemployment is best understood as a public issue because, as Mills (Mills, 1959) put it, “the very structure of opportunities has collapsed. Both the correct statement of the problem and the range of possible solutions require us to consider the economic and political institutions of the society, and not merely the personal situation and character of a scatter of individuals.”

social problems essay example

When only a few people are out of work, it is fair to say that their unemployment is their personal trouble. However, when millions of people are out of work, as has been true since the economic downturn began in 2008, this massive unemployment is more accurately viewed as a public issue. As such, its causes lie not in the unemployed individuals but rather in our society’s economic and social systems.

Rawle C. Jackman – The line of hope… – CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

The high US unemployment rate stemming from the severe economic downturn that began in 2008 provides a telling example of the point Mills was making. Millions of people lost their jobs through no fault of their own. While some individuals are undoubtedly unemployed because they are lazy or lack good work habits, a more structural explanation focusing on lack of opportunity is needed to explain why so many people were out of work. If so, unemployment is best understood as a public issue rather than a personal trouble.

Another social problem is eating disorders. We usually consider a person’s eating disorder to be a personal trouble that stems from a lack of control, low self-esteem, or another personal problem. This explanation may be OK as far as it goes, but it does not help us understand why so many people have the personal problems that lead to eating disorders. Perhaps more important, this belief also neglects the larger social and cultural forces that help explain such disorders. For example, most Americans with eating disorders are women, not men. This gender difference forces us to ask what it is about being a woman in American society that makes eating disorders so much more common. To begin to answer this question, we need to look to the standard of beauty for women that emphasizes a slender body (Boyd, et. al., 2011). If this cultural standard did not exist, far fewer American women would suffer from eating disorders than do now. Because it does exist, even if every girl and woman with an eating disorder were cured, others would take their places unless we could somehow change this standard. Viewed in this way, eating disorders are best understood as a public issue, not just as a personal trouble.

Picking up on Mills’s insights, William Ryan (1976) (Ryan, 1976) pointed out that Americans typically think that social problems such as poverty and unemployment stem from personal failings of the people experiencing these problems, not from structural problems in the larger society. Using Mills’s terms, Americans tend to think of social problems as personal troubles rather than public issues. As Ryan put it, they tend to believe in blaming the victim rather than blaming the system .

To help us understand a blaming-the-victim ideology, let’s consider why poor children in urban areas often learn very little in their schools. According to Ryan, a blaming-the-victim approach would say the children’s parents do not care about their learning, fail to teach them good study habits, and do not encourage them to take school seriously. This type of explanation, he wrote, may apply to some parents, but it ignores a much more important reason: the sad shape of America’s urban schools, which, he said, are overcrowded, decrepit structures housing old textbooks and out-of-date equipment. To improve the schooling of children in urban areas, he wrote, we must improve the schools themselves and not just try to “improve” the parents.

As this example suggests, a blaming-the-victim approach points to solutions to social problems such as poverty and illiteracy that are very different from those suggested by a more structural approach that blames the system. If we blame the victim, we would spend our limited dollars to address the personal failings of individuals who suffer from poverty, illiteracy, poor health, eating disorders, and other difficulties. If instead we blame the system, we would focus our attention on the various social conditions (decrepit schools, cultural standards of female beauty, and the like) that account for these difficulties. A sociological understanding suggests that the latter approach is ultimately needed to help us deal successfully with the social problems facing us today.

Theoretical Perspectives

Three theoretical perspectives guide sociological thinking on social problems: functionalist theory, conflict theory, and symbolic interactionist theory. These perspectives look at the same social problems, but they do so in different ways. Their views taken together offer a fuller understanding of social problems than any of the views can offer alone. Table 1.1 “Theory Snapshot” summarizes the three perspectives.

Table 1.1 Theory Snapshot

Functionalism

Functionalism , also known as the functionalist theory or perspective, arose out of two great revolutions of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The first was the French Revolution of 1789, whose intense violence and bloody terror shook Europe to its core. The aristocracy throughout Europe feared that revolution would spread to their own lands, and intellectuals feared that social order was crumbling.

The Industrial Revolution of the nineteenth century reinforced these concerns. Starting first in Europe and then in the United States, the Industrial Revolution led to many changes, including the rise and growth of cities as people left their farms to live near factories. As the cities grew, people lived in increasingly poor, crowded, and decrepit conditions, and crime was rampant. Here was additional evidence, if European intellectuals needed it, of the breakdown of social order.

In response, the intellectuals began to write that a strong society, as exemplified by strong social bonds and rules and effective socialization, was needed to prevent social order from disintegrating. Without a strong society and effective socialization, they warned, social order breaks down, and violence and other signs of social disorder result.

This general framework reached fruition in the writings of Émile Durkheim (1858–1917), a French scholar largely responsible for the sociological perspective, as we now know it. Adopting the conservative intellectuals’ view of the need for a strong society, Durkheim felt that human beings have desires that result in chaos unless society limits them (Durkheim, 1952). It does so, he wrote, through two related social mechanisms: socialization and social integration. Socialization helps us learn society’s rules and the need to cooperate, as people end up generally agreeing on important norms and values, while social integration, or our ties to other people and to social institutions such as religion and the family, helps socialize us and integrate us into society and reinforce our respect for its rules.

Today’s functionalist perspective arises out of Durkheim’s work and that of other conservative intellectuals of the nineteenth century. It uses the human body as a model for understanding society. In the human body, our various organs and other body parts serve important functions for the ongoing health and stability of our body. Our eyes help us see, our ears help us hear, our heart circulates our blood, and so forth. Just as we can understand the body by describing and understanding the functions that its parts serve for its health and stability, so can we understand society by describing and understanding the functions that its parts—or, more accurately, its social institutions—serve for the ongoing health and stability of society. Thus functionalism emphasizes the importance of social institutions such as the family, religion, and education for producing a stable society.

Émile Durkheim

Émile Durkheim was a founder of sociology and is largely credited with developing the functionalist perspective.

Marxists.org – public domain.

Similar to the view of the conservative intellectuals from which it grew, functionalism is skeptical of rapid social change and other major social upheaval. The analogy to the human body helps us understand this skepticism. In our bodies, any sudden, rapid change is a sign of danger to our health. If we break a bone in one of our legs, we have trouble walking; if we lose sight in both our eyes, we can no longer see. Slow changes, such as the growth of our hair and our nails, are fine and even normal, but sudden changes like those just described are obviously troublesome. By analogy, sudden and rapid changes in society and its social institutions are troublesome according to the functionalist perspective. If the human body evolved to its present form and functions because these made sense from an evolutionary perspective, so did society evolve to its present form and functions because these made sense. Any sudden change in society thus threatens its stability and future.

As these comments might suggest, functionalism views social problems as arising from society’s natural evolution. When a social problem does occur, it might threaten a society’s stability, but it does not mean that fundamental flaws in the society exist. Accordingly, gradual social reform should be all that is needed to address the social problem.

Functionalism even suggests that social problems must be functional in some ways for society, because otherwise these problems would not continue. This is certainly a controversial suggestion, but it is true that many social problems do serve important functions for our society. For example, crime is a major social problem, but it is also good for the economy because it creates hundreds of thousands of jobs in law enforcement, courts and corrections, home security, and other sectors of the economy whose major role is to deal with crime. If crime disappeared, many people would be out of work! Similarly, poverty is also a major social problem, but one function that poverty serves is that poor people do jobs that otherwise might not get done because other people would not want to do them (Gans, 1972). Like crime, poverty also provides employment for people across the nation, such as those who work in social service agencies that help poor people.

Conflict Theory

In many ways, conflict theory is the opposite of functionalism but ironically also grew out of the Industrial Revolution, thanks largely to Karl Marx (1818–1883) and his collaborator, Friedrich Engels (1820–1895). Whereas conservative intellectuals feared the mass violence resulting from industrialization, Marx and Engels deplored the conditions they felt were responsible for the mass violence and the capitalist society they felt was responsible for these conditions. Instead of fearing the breakdown of social order that mass violence represented, they felt that revolutionary violence was needed to eliminate capitalism and the poverty and misery they saw as its inevitable results (Marx, 1906; Marx & Engels, 1962).

According to Marx and Engels, every society is divided into two classes based on the ownership of the means of production (tools, factories, and the like). In a capitalist society, the bourgeoisie , or ruling class, owns the means of production, while the proletariat , or working class, does not own the means of production and instead is oppressed and exploited by the bourgeoisie. This difference creates an automatic conflict of interests between the two groups. Simply put, the bourgeoisie is interested in maintaining its position at the top of society, while the proletariat’s interest lies in rising up from the bottom and overthrowing the bourgeoisie to create an egalitarian society.

In a capitalist society, Marx and Engels wrote, revolution is inevitable because of structural contradictions arising from the very nature of capitalism. Because profit is the main goal of capitalism, the bourgeoisie’s interest lies in maximizing profit. To do so, capitalists try to keep wages as low as possible and to spend as little money as possible on working conditions. This central fact of capitalism, said Marx and Engels, eventually prompts the rise of class consciousness , or an awareness of the reasons for their oppression, among workers. Their class consciousness in turn leads them to revolt against the bourgeoisie to eliminate the oppression and exploitation they suffer.

Marx and Engels’ view of conflict arising from unequal positions held by members of society lies at the heart of today’s conflict theory. This theory emphasizes that different groups in society have different interests stemming from their different social positions. These different interests in turn lead to different views on important social issues. Some versions of the theory root conflict in divisions based on race and ethnicity, gender, and other such differences, while other versions follow Marx and Engels in seeing conflict arising out of different positions in the economic structure. In general, however, conflict theory emphasizes that the various parts of society contribute to ongoing inequality, whereas functionalist theory, as we have seen, stresses that they contribute to the ongoing stability of society. Thus while functionalist theory emphasizes the benefits of the various parts of society for ongoing social stability, conflict theory favors social change to reduce inequality.

Karl Marx

Karl Marx and his collaborator Friedrich Engels were intense critics of capitalism. Their work inspired the later development of conflict theory in sociology.

Wikimedia Commons – public domain.

Feminist theory has developed in sociology and other disciplines since the 1970s and for our purposes will be considered a specific application of conflict theory. In this case, the conflict concerns gender inequality rather than the class inequality emphasized by Marx and Engels. Although many variations of feminist theory exist, they all emphasize that society is filled with gender inequality such that women are the subordinate sex in many dimensions of social, political, and economic life (Lorber, 2010). Liberal feminists view gender inequality as arising out of gender differences in socialization, while Marxist feminists say that this inequality is a result of the rise of capitalism, which made women dependent on men for economic support. On the other hand, radical feminists view gender inequality as present in all societies, not just capitalist ones. Several chapters in this book emphasize the perspectives of feminist sociologists and other social scientists.

Conflict theory in its various forms views social problems as arising from society’s inherent inequality. Depending on which version of conflict theory is being considered, the inequality contributing to social problems is based on social class, race and ethnicity, gender, or some other dimension of society’s hierarchy. Because any of these inequalities represents a fundamental flaw in society, conflict theory assumes that fundamental social change is needed to address society’s many social problems.

Symbolic Interactionism

Symbolic interactionism focuses on the interaction of individuals and on how they interpret their interaction. Its roots lie in the work of early 1900s American sociologists, social psychologists, and philosophers who were interested in human consciousness and action. Herbert Blumer (1969) (Blumer, 1969), a sociologist at the University of Chicago, built on their writings to develop symbolic interactionism, a term he coined. Drawing on Blumer’s work, symbolic interactionists feel that people do not merely learn the roles that society has set out for them; instead they construct these roles as they interact. As they interact, they negotiate their definitions of the situations in which they find themselves and socially construct the reality of these situations. In doing so, they rely heavily on symbols such as words and gestures to reach a shared understanding of their interaction.

Four men conversing on the streets

Symbolic interactionism focuses on individuals, such as the people conversing here. Sociologists favoring this approach examine how and why individuals interact and interpret the meanings of their interaction.

An example is the familiar symbol of shaking hands. In the United States and many other societies, shaking hands is a symbol of greeting and friendship. This simple act indicates that you are a nice, polite person with whom someone should feel comfortable. To reinforce this symbol’s importance for understanding a bit of interaction, consider a situation where someone refuses to shake hands. This action is usually intended as a sign of dislike or as an insult, and the other person interprets it as such. Their understanding of the situation and subsequent interaction will be very different from those arising from the more typical shaking of hands. As the term symbolic interactionism implies, their understanding of this encounter arises from what they do when they interact and from their use and interpretation of the various symbols included in their interaction. According to symbolic interactionists, social order is possible because people learn what various symbols (such as shaking hands) mean and apply these meanings to different kinds of situations. If you visited a society where sticking your right hand out to greet someone was interpreted as a threatening gesture, you would quickly learn the value of common understandings of symbols.

Symbolic interactionism views social problems as arising from the interaction of individuals. This interaction matters in two important respects. First, socially problematic behaviors such as crime and drug use are often learned from our interaction with people who engage in these behaviors; we adopt their attitudes that justify committing these behaviors, and we learn any special techniques that might be needed to commit these behaviors. Second, we also learn our perceptions of a social problem from our interaction with other people, whose perceptions and beliefs influence our own perceptions and beliefs.

Because symbolic interactionism emphasizes the perception of social problems, it is closely aligned with the social constructionist view discussed earlier. Both perspectives emphasize the subjective nature of social problems. By doing so, they remind us that perceptions often matter at least as much as objective reality in determining whether a given condition or behavior rises to the level of a social problem and in the types of possible solutions that various parties might favor for a particular social problem.

Applying the Three Perspectives

A robber holding a glock right up to the camera

To explain armed robbery, symbolic interactionists focus on how armed robbers decide when and where to rob a victim and on how their interactions with other criminals reinforce their own criminal tendencies.

Geoffrey Fairchild – The Robbery – CC BY 2.0.

To help you further understand the different views of these three theoretical perspectives, let’s see what they would probably say about armed robbery , a very serious form of crime, while recognizing that the three perspectives together provide a more comprehensive understanding of armed robbery than any one perspective provides by itself.

A functionalist approach might suggest that armed robbery actually serves positive functions for society, such as the job-creating function mentioned earlier for crime in general. It would still think that efforts should be made to reduce armed robbery, but it would also assume that far-reaching changes in our society would be neither wise nor necessary as part of the effort to reduce crime.

Conflict theory would take a very different approach to understanding armed robbery. It might note that most street criminals are poor and thus emphasize that armed robbery is the result of the despair and frustration of living in poverty and facing a lack of jobs and other opportunities for economic and social success. The roots of street crime, from the perspective of conflict theory, thus lie in society at least as much as they lie in the individuals committing such crime. To reduce armed robbery and other street crime, conflict theory would advocate far-reaching changes in the economic structure of society.

For its part, symbolic interactionism would focus on how armed robbers make such decisions as when and where to rob someone and on how their interactions with other criminals reinforce their own criminal tendencies. It would also investigate how victims of armed robbery behave when confronted by a robber. To reduce armed robbery, it would advocate programs that reduce the opportunities for interaction among potential criminal offenders, for example, after-school programs that keep at-risk youths busy in “conventional” activities so that they have less time to spend with youths who might help them get into trouble.

Key Takeaways

  • According to C. Wright Mills, the sociological imagination involves the ability to recognize that private troubles are rooted in public issues and structural problems.
  • Functionalism emphasizes the importance of social institutions for social stability and implies that far-reaching social change will be socially harmful.
  • Conflict theory emphasizes social inequality and suggests that far-reaching social change is needed to achieve a just society.
  • Symbolic interactionism emphasizes the social meanings and understandings that individuals derive from their social interaction.

For Your Review

  • Select an example of a “private trouble” and explain how and why it may reflect a structural problem in society.
  • At this point in your study of social problems, which one of the three sociological theoretical perspectives sounds most appealing to you? Why?

Blumer, H. (1969). Symbolic interactionism: Perspective and Method . Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Boyd, E. M., Reynolds, J. R., Tillman, K. H., & Martin, P. Y. (2011). Adolescent girls’ race/ethnic status, identities, and drive for thinness. Social Science Research, 40 (2), 667–684.

Durkheim, É. (1952). Suicide (J. Spaulding & G. Simpson, Trans.). New York, NY: Free Press. (Original work published 1897).

Gans, H. J. (1972). The positive functions of poverty. American Journal of Sociology, 78 , 275–289.

Lorber, J. (2010). Gender Inequality: Feminist Theories and Politics . New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Marx, K. (1906). Capital . New York, NY: Random House. (Original work published 1867).

Marx, K., & Engels, F. (1962). The communist manifesto. In Marx and Engels: Selected works (Vol. 2, pp. 21–65). Moscow, Russia: Foreign Language Publishing House. (Original work published 1848).

Mills, C. W. (1959). The sociological imagination . London, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.

Ryan, W. (1976). Blaming the victim (Rev. ed.). New York, NY: Vintage Books.

Social Problems Copyright © 2015 by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Bullying Approaches: Strategies for Empathy, Self-care, and Healing

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Understanding Colorism: Impact on Students' Academic and Professional Success

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Essay Samples on Social Issues

Almost every college student these days gets to work with various social issue essays that may range from domestic violence and bullying to workplace conflicts and issues like college debts. Therefore, choosing an issue, you can explore a broad range of subjects as long as there is a problem and more than one opinion involved. Another important aspect that must be explored is determining your essay type. If you are dealing with debates, providing clear and respectful replies is essential. If you feel confused and do not know how to deal with a particular social issue or need more ideas, consider checking free social issues essay examples that will provide inspiration and help to learn more about essay structure. See how each quote has been used, focus on the thesis statement part in the introduction, and don’t forget to explore various formatting conventions. As you write, always seek statistical information or use surveys that deal with your subject. When you structure your social issues essay paragraphs, do not start with citations at the start of every paragraph but provide a basic introduction or use a topic sentence instead. It will help to make your essay content more accurate and reliable.

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Advantages of Abortion: Exploring Benefits and Complexities

Introduction The topic of abortion is one of the most contentious issues in society, sparking debates and discussions on ethics, morality, and women's rights. While the debate often focuses on the disadvantages and challenges associated with abortion, it's important to also consider the potential advantages...

Advantages and Disadvantages of Abortion: Weighing the Pros and Cons

Introduction The topic of abortion is a complex and sensitive issue that elicits strong opinions from individuals across the globe. While the debate often centers around the ethical, moral, and legal aspects of abortion, it's important to consider both the advantages and disadvantages associated with...

About Abortion: Exploring a Complex Topic

Introduction Abortion is a complex and contentious topic that elicits strong emotions and differing viewpoints. It revolves around the termination of a pregnancy, raising significant ethical, legal, and societal questions. This essay provides an overview of abortion, exploring its history, methods, legal status, and the...

Abortion: Navigating the Ethical and Personal Choice

The topic of abortion is an ethical and emotional minefield that sparks passionate debates on both sides. The central issue revolves around a woman's right to choose and the moral status of the unborn fetus. This short argumentative essay will delve into the key points...

Abortion: Navigating Complex Choices in 1000 Words

Introduction The topic of abortion is both intricate and polarizing, encompassing a multitude of moral, ethical, legal, and personal considerations. This essay will explore the various dimensions of abortion, ranging from its historical context to the current debates surrounding it. While no concise essay can...

Abortion: Arguments For and Against

The topic of abortion is one that elicits strong opinions and impassioned debates. While some individuals firmly believe in a woman's right to choose, others advocate for the sanctity of unborn life. This essay will examine the arguments both for and against abortion, highlighting the...

Abortion: An Examination of Yes and No Arguments

Introduction The debate over abortion has polarized societies, sparking impassioned arguments from both proponents and opponents. This essay delves into the arguments for and against abortion, exploring the complexities and ethical considerations that underlie the "yes" and "no" perspectives on this divisive issue. Proponents of...

Abortion: An Argumentative Examination of a Complex Issue

The topic of abortion is a contentious and deeply divisive subject that elicits strong emotions and stirs heated debates. At the heart of this issue lies the clash between the right to bodily autonomy and the sanctity of life. This essay seeks to provide an...

Abortion: A Complex and Controversial Issue in 500 Words

Abortion, the termination of a pregnancy, is a deeply divisive topic that elicits strong emotions and diverse perspectives. The controversy surrounding abortion arises from the collision of moral, ethical, religious, and societal values, making it one of the most complex issues in contemporary discourse. The...

Abortion Should Not Be Banned

Introduction The topic of abortion is one of deep ethical, moral, and societal significance. The question of whether abortions should be banned is a highly debated issue, with differing perspectives on both sides. This essay argues that abortion should not be banned, highlighting the importance...

Abortion Should Be Legal: An Argumentative Perspective

Introduction The legalization of abortion is a deeply polarizing issue that sparks debates encompassing ethics, human rights, women's autonomy, and societal well-being. This essay presents a comprehensive argument in favor of legalizing abortion, addressing both the practical and moral considerations surrounding this complex topic. Historical...

Abortion Should Be Legal: A Persuasive Argument

Introduction The topic of abortion has long been a subject of heated debate, sparking conversations about ethics, women's rights, and societal values. This persuasive essay aims to present a compelling case for the legalization of abortion, highlighting the importance of respecting women's autonomy, safeguarding their...

Abortion Should Be Allowed: Ensuring Women's Autonomy and Health

Introduction The question of whether abortion should be allowed is a complex and highly debated topic that revolves around women's rights, medical ethics, and societal values. This essay argues in favor of allowing abortion, highlighting the importance of women's autonomy over their bodies, protecting their...

Abortion Rights: Complexities of an Argumentative Landscape

Introduction The debate over abortion rights remains one of the most contentious and emotionally charged issues in modern society. The clash of ideologies and moral beliefs has led to a multifaceted discussion that touches upon ethical, legal, religious, and personal considerations. The focus of this...

Abortion Rights: Balancing Autonomy and Ethics

Introduction Abortion rights, the subject of ongoing debates, involve the intersection of women's autonomy, medical ethics, and societal values. This essay explores the complexities surrounding abortion rights, delving into the historical, legal, ethical, and social dimensions that shape this contentious issue. Historical Evolution The history...

Abortion Legalization: Examining the Complex Issue

The legalization of abortion is a topic that evokes strong emotions and opinions from individuals on all sides of the debate. This essay delves into the multifaceted discussions surrounding the legalization of abortion, exploring the arguments presented by proponents and opponents and the broader implications...

Abortion Laws and Reproductive Rights: Argumentative Debate

The issue of abortion laws has been a hotly debated topic that touches on ethical, moral, and legal considerations. This argumentative essay explores the opposing viewpoints surrounding abortion laws and the broader implications for reproductive rights and women's autonomy. Proponents of Restrictive Abortion Laws Advocates...

Abortion Information: Exploring the Complexities and Perspectives

Abortion is a deeply contentious and multifaceted topic that touches upon matters of ethics, human rights, public health, and personal beliefs. This informative essay aims to provide a comprehensive overview of abortion, shedding light on its historical context, legal landscape, medical procedures, and the various...

Abortion Facts for an Argument

Abortion is a complex and emotionally charged topic that elicits strong opinions from individuals across society. When constructing an argumentative essay on abortion, it is essential to base your points on accurate and well-researched facts. Here are several key abortion facts that can serve as...

Abortion Disagree: Ethical Concerns and Alternative Perspective

Introduction The topic of abortion is a highly contentious and morally complex issue that evokes deeply-held beliefs and diverse perspectives. This "Abortion Disagree" essay aims to present arguments against abortion by exploring the ethical concerns and alternative viewpoints held by those who do not agree...

Abortion as a Social Issue: Navigating Perspectives and Impacts

Introduction Abortion is a multifaceted social issue that intertwines ethics, women's rights, religion, public health, and societal values. This essay delves into the complexities surrounding abortion as a social issue, exploring its historical context, the diverse viewpoints it elicits, and the broader implications for individuals...

Abortion and the Moral Debate: Is It Murder?

The topic of abortion sparks intense moral and ethical debates, with one of the central questions being whether abortion can be equated with murder. This essay aims to delve into the complexities of this debate, examining the perspectives of both pro-life advocates who contend that...

Abortion and Euthanasia: Ethical and Moral Dilemmas

Introduction The ethical debates surrounding abortion and euthanasia are among the most contentious and complex issues in contemporary society. Both topics touch on deeply personal and profound matters related to life, death, autonomy, and the value of human existence. This essay delves into the ethical...

  • Ethical Dilemma

Abortion Analysis: Exploring Complex Factors and Perspectives

Introduction The topic of abortion is a deeply complex and emotionally charged issue that spans medical, ethical, legal, and social domains. This essay undertakes a comprehensive abortion analysis, delving into the various factors, perspectives, and considerations that contribute to the ongoing debate surrounding this sensitive...

Abortion Advantages: Empowering Reproductive Autonomy

Introduction The topic of abortion is deeply nuanced, encompassing a range of perspectives and considerations. This essay explores the advantages of abortion, emphasizing the importance of reproductive autonomy, individual well-being, and the empowerment of women in making decisions about their bodies and futures. Reproductive Autonomy...

Abortion Advantages and Disadvantages: Weighing the Complexities

Introduction The topic of abortion is fraught with ethical, social, and personal considerations, making it a subject of ongoing debate and reflection. This essay delves into the advantages and disadvantages of abortion, shedding light on the complex factors that individuals and societies must grapple with...

A Thoughtful Speech about Abortion: Exploring Diverse Perspectives

Ladies and gentlemen, esteemed guests, and fellow citizens, today we gather to delve into one of the most complex and emotionally charged topics of our time: abortion. The issue of abortion is marked by strong convictions and divergent viewpoints, and as we engage in this...

The World We Live in Today: a Complex Landscape

The world we live in today is marked by a dynamic interplay of advancements, challenges, and rapid changes that shape our daily lives and the course of history. From technological innovations to social transformations, this essay navigates the multifaceted aspects of the contemporary world, examining...

  • Globalization

The Role of Media in Advancing Gender Equality

The role of media in promoting gender equality is a topic that underscores the power of storytelling, representation, and influence in shaping societal perceptions. Advocates assert that media can challenge stereotypes, amplify women's voices, and catalyze social change. On the other hand, critics point to...

  • Gender Equality

The Issue of Artificial Intelligence and Intrusion of Privacy

In an era driven by technological advancements, artificial intelligence (AI) has emerged as a powerful tool with far-reaching implications. While AI offers numerous benefits, including improved efficiency and enhanced decision-making, it also raises concerns about the intrusion of privacy. This essay delves into the complex...

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Internet Privacy

The Effects of Moving to Another Country

Moving to another country is a transformative experience that brings about a range of effects on individuals and their lives. Whether driven by opportunities for work, education, or personal growth, the decision to relocate to a different country entails both exciting prospects and challenges. In...

Perceptions of Disobedience in the Eyes of Anyone: Exploring the Concept

Disobedience, a fundamental aspect of human behavior, has been viewed through various lenses across cultures and eras. It encompasses a range of actions that defy authority, rules, or norms. As Oskar Wilde said, "Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man's...

  • Civil Disobedience

Martin Luther King's Birmingham Jail Letter: A Timeless Call for Justice

Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail" is a poignant and influential piece of writing that captures the essence of the civil rights movement in the United States. Composed during King's incarceration in April 1963, the letter addresses the criticism he faced from fellow...

  • Letter From Birmingham Jail
  • Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King Jr. vs. Malcolm X: A Comparative Analysis

The Civil Rights Movement in the United States was marked by the leadership and contributions of two iconic figures: Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. While both men had a shared goal of achieving racial equality and justice, they pursued different approaches and philosophies....

Is Healthcare a Basic Human Right: Exploring the Complex Issue

Access to healthcare is a fundamental concern that touches upon the well-being and dignity of individuals. The question of whether healthcare is a basic human right is a topic of ongoing debate and has significant implications for society. In this essay, we will explore arguments...

  • Health Care

How to Stop Stereotyping in Society: The Importance of Collective Efforts

Stereotyping is a deeply entrenched practice that not only hinders individual growth but also perpetuates systemic biases and discrimination. Overcoming the grip of stereotypes is a vital step towards forging a society that is truly inclusive, just, and equal. In addition to exploring methods to...

  • Stereotypes

Benefits of Living in the City: an Overview of the Opportunities and Experiences

Choosing a place to call home is a significant decision that impacts various aspects of our lives. For many, the allure of city living is undeniable, offering a vibrant and dynamic lifestyle that appeals to individuals of all ages. This essay explores the benefits of...

  • Urbanization

Analysis of How Immigration Affects the Economy

Immigration is a topic that has captured the attention of governments, economists, and citizens around the world. The question of how immigration affects the economy is a complex and multi-dimensional one, with both positive and negative implications. This essay explores the various ways in which...

  • Immigration in America

Against Euthanasia: An Argumentative Examination of Ethical and Practical Concerns

The debate over euthanasia, the act of intentionally ending a person's life to relieve suffering, has sparked intense discussions worldwide. While proponents argue for the right to die with dignity and avoid prolonged suffering, opponents raise ethical and practical concerns that warrant careful consideration. In...

  • Assisted Suicide

"The New Jim Crow" Book Review: Mass Incarceration and Racial Injustice

Michelle Alexander's groundbreaking book, "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness," is a searing critique of the American criminal justice system's discriminatory impact on Black communities. This book review essay delves into the key themes of the book, including the concept...

  • Mass Incarceration

The Issue of Social Media and Freedom of Speech

Social media platforms have become a powerful tool for self-expression, information sharing, and public discourse. However, the relationship between social media and freedom of speech is complex. Therefore this essay raises important questions about the boundaries of online expression, censorship, and the responsibilities of platform...

  • Freedom of Speech
  • Social Media

The Importance of Freedom of Speech: Upholding Democracy and Fostering Progress

Why freedom of speech is important? In a world where ideas shape societies and opinions guide actions, the concept of freedom of speech holds immense significance. It serves as a cornerstone of democratic societies, fostering open discourse, promoting diverse viewpoints, and ultimately contributing to societal...

  • Freedom of Expression

Should Roe v. Wade Be Overturned: Exploring the Abortion Debate

Should Roe v. Wade be overturned? The legal and moral complexities surrounding the Roe v. Wade decision have ignited a fervent debate that continues to shape the sociopolitical landscape. This essay delves into the heart of this contentious issue, exploring the arguments on both sides...

Poverty is the Mother of Crime: Understanding the Claim

The relationship between poverty and crime has long been a topic of debate and analysis. This essay explores the assertion that poverty is the mother of crime, delving into the complex interplay between socioeconomic conditions and criminal behavior. While it's important to recognize the multifaceted...

  • Criminal Behavior

Best topics on Social Issues

1. LGBTQ Rights: Navigating Equality and Inclusivity

2. LGBTQ Rights: An Argumentative Landscape

3. LGBTQ Discrimination: Overcoming Prejudice and Fostering Inclusion

4. Racism in the Justice System: Unveiling Disparities

5. How to Help the Homeless in Your Community

6. Feminism in the 21st Century: Empowerment and Progress

7. Why Should We Legalize Abortion: Empowering Women’s Choice and Safety

8. Why Should Abortions Be Made Legal: Advancing Women’s Rights

9. Why I Agree: Abortion from a Supportive Perspective

10. Why Abortion Should Not Be Banned: Preserving Choice

11. The Power of Censorship: Safeguarding Societal Values

12. The Importance of Censorship: The Vital Balancing Act

13. The Evolution and Controversy of Abortion Laws

14. The Controversy Surrounding Abortion Rights

15. The Case for Legal Abortion: Balancing Women’s Rights and Health

  • Gender Inequality
  • Black Lives Matter
  • Pornography

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Home / Essay Samples / Social Issues

Social Issues Essay Examples

A social issues essay is important because it tries to address existing problems in society. These could be problems that prevent its individuals from living happy lives, from performing well, from feeling safe or content (financially, socially, psychologically, spiritually), that are hindering society’s evolution as a whole. Interestingly, people become aware of many of these problems or imperfections by comparing different societies – this is often able to illustrate that things can be much better than expected. A social issues paper normally describes the problem by using supporting evidence/ statistics, tends to evaluate ongoing measures to address it, but may also reflect on alternate solutions or more radical measures. Check out the essays in this category for a deeper insight.

White Privilege: a Historical and Contemporary Analysis

White privilege is a concept that has gained significant attention in recent years as societies grapple with issues of systemic racism and inequality. This essay delves into the multifaceted nature of white privilege, tracing its historical roots and examining its persistence in contemporary society. It...

What is Poverty: Causes, Effects, and Solutions

Poverty is a complex and pervasive social issue that has plagued societies throughout history. It is a multifaceted phenomenon that transcends mere economic insufficiency, encompassing a lack of access to resources and opportunities necessary for a decent standard of living. In this essay, we will...

Pro Death Penalty: a Rational Examination

The death penalty, or capital punishment, has long been a topic of debate and controversy. While many argue against it, this essay seeks to provide a balanced examination of the arguments in favor of the death penalty. Proponents of capital punishment assert that it serves...

Ending World Hunger: a Comprehensive Approach

World hunger remains one of humanity's most pressing challenges, with millions of people suffering from malnutrition and starvation. This essay explores a multifaceted approach to ending world hunger, emphasizing the importance of addressing the root causes, promoting sustainable agriculture, and fostering international cooperation. While eradicating...

How Freedom of Speech Affects Other Individual Rights

Freedom of speech, often considered the cornerstone of democratic societies, has been a subject of enduring debate and discussion. This essay delves into the multifaceted realm of freedom of speech, offering an argumentative perspective on its intricate interplay with other individual rights. In a world...

Social Worker: Qualities, Opportunities, and Challenges

Social workers play a vital role in society by assisting individuals and communities in need, advocating for social justice, and promoting well-being. Their work encompasses a wide range of fields, from child welfare to mental health to substance abuse. In this essay, we will explore...

Martin Luther King Jr.: a Legacy of Civil Rights and Social Justice

Martin Luther King Jr. is an iconic figure in American history, celebrated for his tireless efforts in advancing civil rights and social justice. His life and work continue to inspire and resonate with people around the world. This essay delves into the remarkable journey of...

The Impact of Social Issues on Social Work

Social work is a profession deeply intertwined with addressing and mitigating the impact of social issues on individuals, families, and communities. This essay explores the intricate relationship between social issues and the practice of social work, examining how these challenges influence the role of social...

Food Insecurity in Underdeveloped Countries: a Global Crisis

Food insecurity, the lack of reliable access to sufficient and nutritious food, remains a pressing and deeply entrenched issue, particularly in underdeveloped countries. This essay delves into the complex factors contributing to food insecurity, its devastating consequences on individuals and communities, and the imperative need...

Bullying: Protecting Victims and Addressing Bullies

Bullying is a pervasive and harmful social issue that affects individuals of all ages, backgrounds, and demographics. In this argumentative essay, we will examine the critical importance of protecting bullying victims and implementing appropriate punishments for bullies. By addressing both sides of this complex problem,...

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  • Animal Rights
  • Human Rights
  • Immigration
  • Overpopulation
  • Poverty Problem
  • Social Movements
  • Women's Rights
  • Domestic Violence
  • Capital Punishment
  • Gay Marriage
  • Animal Testing
  • Cruelty to Animals
  • Death Penalty
  • Gender Inequality
  • Freedom of Speech
  • Discrimination
  • Civil Rights
  • Affirmative Action
  • Public Shaming
  • Illegal Immigration
  • Moving to America
  • Homelessness
  • Black Lives Matter
  • Martin Luther King
  • White Privilege
  • Letter From Birmingham Jail
  • Social Isolation
  • Civil Disobedience
  • Cyber Bullying
  • Gender Equality
  • Globalization
  • Social Protection Programs
  • School Shooting
  • Violence in Video Games
  • Women Suffrage Movement
  • Racial Discrimination
  • Immigration to America
  • Violence Against Women
  • World Hunger
  • Controversial Issue
  • Cultural Conflict
  • Lewis Blackman
  • Media Influence
  • Nobel Prize
  • Premarital Sex
  • Prohibition
  • Social Problems
  • Social Responsibility
  • Transphobia
  • Urbanization
  • Urbanization in China

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