Social Problems / Edition 9

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Drawing on the perspectives of multiple groups (rich, middle class, and poor; whites and people of color; gays and straights; females and males), Social Problems, 10/e examines troubled institutions, problems of inequality, conformity and deviance, and the problems of a changing world.

Now available in paperback, this text familiarizes students with the most trying problems of their times, while stimulating them to think in a critical, scientific way.

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Editorial Reviews

A color-illustrated textbook that opens with an overview of the sociological tools and perspectives that are used in the study of social problems. It then disusses fundamental changes and problems in four basic social institutions--the economy, government, education, and family--before examining more specific topics, such as health care and poverty. This updated edition adds two new features: "Signs of Hope" boxes and "Personal Perspectives" boxes. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780131540538
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall
  • Publication date: 1/28/2005
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 9
  • Pages: 582
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 10.82 (h) x 0.86 (d)

Meet the Author

James W. Coleman is a professor of sociology at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and past chair of the Social Sciences Department. He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He was a student of Donald R. Cressey who, until his death, was one of America’s leading criminologist and the co-author of this text.

Professor Coleman is an internationally recognized authority on white collar crime. In addition to numerous articles on the subject, he is the author of The Criminal Elite: Understanding White Collar Crime, currently its 6th edition. He is also interested in the sociology of religion and has published a new book on Western Buddhism called The New Buddhism: The Western Transformation of an Ancient Tradition. He is currently working on a book on the sociology of religion in the postmodern age.

Harold R. Kerbo is a professor of sociology at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Professor Kerbo has been promoting international education in the United States and abroad since the early 1980s and has extensive teaching and research experience in Asia and Europe. In addition to other teaching experience in Tokyo, Professor Kerbo was a Fulbright Professor during 1988—1989 at Hiroshima University, as well as a visiting professor in the Law Faculty at Hiroshima Shudo University. During 1991, Professor Kerbo was a visiting professor at the University of Duisburg, Germany, and returned to the Dusseldorf area during 1992 and 1993 as a research professor conducting research on employee relations in Japanesecorporations located in Germany. In 1990, Professor Kerbo received a Fulbright-Hays grant to study at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand, and for several months during 1994—1996 directed a research project on employee relations in American and Japanese corporations with operations in Thailand. During 1996, he was also a visiting professor in the MBA Program at the Prince of Songkla University in Thailand. From 1995, Professor Kerbo has been in charge of annual study programs he helped establish for American students in Thailand, with study trips also to Laos and Vietnam. During the winter term of 1999, Professor Kerbo was a visiting professor at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, and was a visiting professor at the University of Wales, Great Britain, during the fall term of 1999. He is currently doing research on poverty in SE Asia with an Abe Research Fellowship, and based at the Center for the Study of Social Stratification and Inequality at Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan.

Professor Kerbo has published six books and numerous articles on the subjects of social stratification, comparative societies, corporate structure, and modern Japan. He is the author of the leading textbook on social stratification titled Social Stratification and Inequality, 7/E, and, along with John A. McKinstry, the author of Who Rules Japan?: The Inner-Circles of Economic and Political Power. His latest book is World Poverty: Global Inequality and the Modern World System.

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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 Sociology and Social Problems 1
Ch. 2 Problems of the Economy 26
Ch. 3 Problems of Government 62
Ch. 4 Problems of Education 93
Ch. 5 Problems of the Family 123
Ch. 6 The Poor 155
Ch. 7 The Ethnic Minorities 185
Ch. 8 Health and Illness 221
Ch. 9 The Old and the Young 268
Ch. 10 Women and Men 293
Ch. 11 Sexual Behavior 322
Ch. 12 Drug Use 352
Ch. 13 Crime and Violence 384
Ch. 14 The Global Divide: Problems of International Inequality 421
Ch. 15 Urbanization 451
Ch. 16 Population 478
Ch. 17 The Environment 504
Ch. 18 Warfare and International Conflict 536
Glossary 563
Credits 570
Index 571
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From the first rough draft to this eighth edition, we have written this book for students. Our objective has been not only to familiarize undergraduates with the most trying problems of their times, but also to stimulate them to think in a critical, scientific way. We encourage them to challenge the half-truths and pat answers that many people accept simply because they have heard them repeated so often. We ask students to participate in the dialogue about these issues rather than merely stand back and observe.

Features of the Eighth Edition

The biggest change for the new edition is the addition of a new coauthor, Harold R. Kerbo. Harold is not only the author of America's leading social stratification text, he brings a wealth of other invaluable experience with him. He has an impressive body of crosscultural research to his credit and has taught in Germany, Switzerland, Thailand, Great Britain, Japan, and, of course, the United States. He is the editor of a series on comparative sociology and the author of numerous other books. In addition, we brought in Linda L. Ramos from the University of Colorado, Boulder, to strengthen still further the feminist perspective throughout this edition, and we gave her full charge of the chapters on aging and gender.

In preparing the eighth edition, we have tried to enhance the strengths that have made this book so successful over the years. Users of the previous editions have praised the broad coverage, the strongly worded debates on controversial issues, the informative graphics, and, most significantly, the consistent theoretical organization, including a section on the major theoretical perspectives in eachchapter. These features have been retained or strengthened in this edition. Moreover, we have striven to maintain the same clear, straightforward style of writing—one that does not talk down to the reader or oversimplify complex issues—for which this book has become known.

A Global Perspective on American Problems

Much of the new material in this eighth edition attempts to bring a comparative sociological perspective to the study of American social problems. Although the focus of this text continues to be social problems in the United States, we have included new material about social problems in other countries in every chapter. We are convinced that in this ever more globalized society, American students gain a far better understanding of the social problems they face when they see how different social conditions in other countries affect those problems and how countries around the world have dealt with the same issues.

Boxed Features

We have continued three special boxed features that were exceedingly well received in previous editions. First, to counterbalance the "gloom and doom" that inevitably creeps into social problems classes, we have included numerous "Signs of Hope" boxes that highlight some positive trend or development. There are also "Personal Perspectives" boxes that seek to get students more personally involved in the issues by providing a vivid commentary from someone directly affected by a major social problem. And as in previous editions, "Debate" boxes in each chapter present two sides of a controversial issue to show students the complexity of various problems and encourage them to consider conflicting opinions.

New "Lessons from Other Places"

A new feature of this edition is the "Lessons from Other Places." These boxes usually feature the personal observations on social problems in other countries by one of the authors of this text. Our intent is to give students a more personal introduction to the problems of other countries by discussing some of our own personal experiences as Americans abroad.

Web Sources and Exercises


This new edition of Social Problems has been designed with Web material to find additional information about social problems in the United States and other countries, to locate and download various types of reports and articles about social problems from national and international agencies, and to obtain information about social problems from various newspapers around the world. We hope this information will be useful to students who want to obtain more information for student papers and reports, or simply for students who would like to find more information about topics covered in the chapters of this book. We also hope that our Web material can aid both students and faculty in finding the most up-to-date material about social problems. Through the Internet it has become possible for government agencies, welfare organizations, and various nongovernmental organizations (NGO's) to offer new data, sometimes updated monthly, that was unavailable at press time.

Also, our colleague, Meika Clucas, has provided numerous student exercises pertaining to the social problems covered in each chapter of this book. Meika Clucas has extensive experience in this area and brings to our project an excellent background as a comparative sociologist. Students can go to our Website to find exercises that enhance learning through questions and hints about how the answers can be found in the appropriate places on the Web.

Information on Our Website

Newspapers around the World. One of the best ways to learn about social problems is to simply read a good newspaper. This Website contains the Web addresses of the best U.S. newspapers as well as foreign newspapers in English, which can be used for these purposes. All of these newspapers provide free access to their news pages daily.

Information from U.S. Government Sources. The United States government provides an amazing amount of information for free on the Web. Over 70 government agencies have Web pages which contain data on subjects such as child abuse, drug use, crime rates, poverty trends, environmental dangers, health statistics, and much more. All of this is free and can be downloaded as data files into personal computers as well as read on the Web. Most of the government Websites require the software Acrobat Exchange for calling up and downloading the reports and information tables, but Acrobat Exchange is provided for download free of charge by these agencies. One can simply click on the Acrobat icon provided on the Website for a download that will take only a few minutes and minimal disc space.

Our Website indicates some of the best government Websites for information about social problems, the addresses, and how to use these Websites. One of the best for our purpose is the U.S. Census Bureau (, which gives people free access to hundreds of reports compiled by the Census Bureau, as well as the Statistical Abstracts of the United States, which compiles information on the most commonly asked questions every year.

Information from International Agencies. Many international agencies provide data on social problems for countries around the world much like the U.S. Census Bureau provides such information for the United States. The United Nations is one of these agencies, as are the World Bank, World Health Organization, Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, International Monetary Fund, and the European Union's new statistical and information agency, Eurostat. As with the U.S. Government Websites, our Website will provide the Web addresses for all of the agencies and help you through the process of using these Websites and leaning what can be found. Web Exercises Web exercises offer questions about social problems and suggest how and where you can find answers to these questions. For each chapter, questions test your knowledge of the topics discussed in this book. We also suggest that groups of students can design some of their own questions exploring social problems in this and other countries which people may not have considered previously.

Cross-National Comparisons. Following the noted sociologist, Seymour Martin Lipset, who wrote, "Those who know only one country know no country," we have included many sources of information about social problems in other countries. By examining social problems in other countries and comparing them to the United Stakes, you gain a far deeper understanding about the causes and solutions to social problems. Such an examination makes us confront our own misconceptions about other countries and about our own. We have included much of this comparative information in the text, especially in the boxes, "Lessons from Other Places." Our Website includes a rich assortment of material that can be found on the Websites of many foreign government agencies and from NGO's that are working to eliminate social problems such as world poverty, the exploitation of women and children, environmental pollution, and AIDS, among many other social problems.

Suggested Readings. Previous editions of this text have provided a list of useful books and articles at the end of each chapter. For the current edition of this text, we are providing the list of additional readings on our Website so it can be periodically updated and revised.

Comprehensive Student Aids

In addition to these special features, this new edition continues the comprehensive set of pedagogical aids of previous editions:

  • "Quick Review" questions at the end of each major section to aid students in reviewing the material they have just read
  • "Questions for Critical Thinking" at the end of each chapter to encourage students to think critically about the issues discussed and apply them to their own lives
  • Chapter-opening questions that preview the major issues addressed in each chapter
  • Marginal definitions that provide easy access to the definition of new or important terms
  • Chapter summaries giving a brief overview of the important issues covered
  • Lists of key terms at the end of the chapters to help students review the terms they have learned

New Solutions to Social Problems

We have also made an effort to put more emphasis on what we can do to deal with our social problems, and each chapter continues to have a section on solving social problems. The section appears toward the end of each chapter, just before the summary.

New Coverage

Even more than most books, a social problems text needs to be updated constantly to reflect the ever changing array of issues, problems, and attempted solutions that concern and involve us. Every chapter has been thoroughly revised to incorporate the latest statistical data and the most current trends. The addition of a new author has also helped strengthen our presentation in ways too numerous to mention here, but the summary below lists some of the most important changes and additions to this edition.

Chapter 1: Sociology and Social Problems. There is a new box showing the impact and differences in values between German and American society have had on the way they respond to social problems. The discussion of feminist theory has been expanded.

Chapter 2: Problems of the Family. There is a new debate on the controversial issues of gay and lesbian marriages, and more attention was given to that issue in the main body of the chapter as well. A Lessons from Other Places box that compares the current situation in the United States with that in Europe and Japan was added, along with a great deal more comparative data. There is also a new Signs of Hope box on the decline in births to teenagers.

Chapter 3: Problems of Education. A new debate is included on the controversial issue of educational vouchers. There is a new examination of the importance of social and cultural capital in the educational process, and on the changing levels of educational achievement between the genders and among different ethnic groups. There is a new box comp4ring the American system of education with those in Japan and Germany, and a lot of new material on school violence was also added, as well as a new discussion on the problem of school bullying and abuse.

Chapter 4: Problems of the Economy. This chapter has been heavily rewritten to reflect the ever-changing economic realities of our current era. A great deal of new material was added on globalization and America's role in the world economy. New material has been included on the growth of economic inequality in the United States and why it is occurring. A new box, "Overworked Americans," was added, and current economic trends are thoroughly explored.

Chapter 5: Problems of Government. New comparative figures were added on the growth of government. A Lessons from Other Places box examines levels of government corruption around the world. There is a new section on "Facing Global Competition," new material on campaign finance, and discussion of new threats to our civil liberties.

Chapter 6: Health and Illness. A great deal of new material on poverty, inequality, and health has been included. A new section on "The Consequences of Mental Disorder" was added along with other new material on mental disorders. A new box shows how the quality of American health care compares with other countries. The section on feminist perspectives was heavily revised.

Chapter 7: The Poor. A new section on "Hunger in America" was added. The recent changes in the welfare system and their long-term implication for the future of poor people in the United States are explored. Extensive new data was added on the widening gap between the haves and the have-nots. There is a new box showing the impact of social values on the poverty rate in different countries. The section on the feminist perspective was heavily revised.

Chapter 8: The Ethnic Minorities. New material is added on the difference between immigrant and colonized minorities. There is new information on immigration and its impact on society. The section on the feminist perspective was heavily revised. A Lessons from Other Places box explores the advantage America's ethnic diversity gives it in today's world economy. There is new material on police brutality against minorities.

Chapter 9: The Old and the Young. The new Lessons from Other Places box compares the problems of American youth with those in other countries. A new discussion has been added on the effects the Internet is having on our children. A new section on "Ageism" is included as is a new section on "Multiple jeopardy." The treatment of death and dying has been greatly expanded, and a new discussion of teenage suicide was added.

Chapter 10: Women and Men. A new section on religion and gender inequality has been added. The discussion on "Changing Gender Roles" was greatly expanded, as was the section on "Men's Problems." The issue of body image and gender was explored. A new Lessons from Other Places box explores the levels of gender inequality around the world. Extensive new data was added on gender inequality.

Chapter 11: Sexual Behavior. The section on conflict theory now explores the issues of sexual slavery and the international trafficking in women for prostitution. A new box explores the way that Thailand has been successful in controlling the spread of AIDS, and great deal of other new information was added about the AIDS epidemic. The section on the feminist perspective was heavily revised.

Chapter 12: Drug Use. New material was added on the use of "ecstasy" (MDMA). A Lessons from Other Places box explores the response to the drug problem in Germany and Switzerland. The section on the feminist perspective was heavily revised. There is also interesting new comparative material.

Chapter 13: Crime and Violence. A great deal of new material was added showing the continued drop in crime and explaining its causes. Gottfredson and Hirschi's general theory of crime is included in the section discussing the causes of crime and violence. A new Lessons from Other Places box was added exploring the changes in the crime rates in other countries. The section on the feminist perspectives was heavily revised.

Chapter 14: Urbanization. There is a new opening vignette on traffic and crowding in Bangkok. The section on the feminist perspective was heavily revised. There is new material on small farms in Europe and Japan. The new Lessons from Other Places box explores "The Fight Against Suburbanization in Europe." There is considerable new material on urban problems in poor countries.

Chapter 15: Population. There is a new debate "Should We Try to Stop the New Wave of Third World Immigration?" There is extensive new material on the slowing of population growth and why it is occurring. The new Lessons from Other Places box explores "Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery." A new discussion on the "Graying of the Industrialized Nations" was added.

Chapter 16:The Environment. New data shows the United States as the world's largest polluter. The new Lessons from Other Places box shows how Tokyo has dealt with its pollution problems. Extensive new comparative data was added. The section on feminist perspectives was revised.

Chapter 17: The Global Divide: Globalization and International Inequality. Extensive new material on globalization and the growth of international inequality and poverty was added. A new Lessons from Other Places is entitled "World Poverty and the Three Richest Men." New material explores the characteristics that have allowed some poor nations to move ahead economically while others have not.

Chapter 18: Warfare, Terrorism, and International Conflict. Anew Lessons from Other Places box, "The Killing Fields," was added. The section on the feminist perspective was heavily revised. Extensive new data is included on the changes in world military spending.


This edition of Social Problems is accompanied by an array of excellent supplements to give the instructor the resources needed to teach the course and the student the tools needed to successfully complete the course.

For the Instructor

Instructor's Manual with Tests. This essential instructor's tool includes detailed chapters outlines, teaching objectives, discussion questions, classroom activities, and additional instructor's resources. Also included are over 1,000 test questions. Each multiple-choice question is page referenced to the text.

Computerized Test Manager. Prentice Hall's testing software program permits instructors to edit any or all items in the test bank and add their own questions. Other special features of this program, which is available for Windows and Macintosh, include random generation of an item set, creation of alternative versions of the same test, scrambling question sequence, and test preview before printing.

Prentice Hall Color Transparencies: Social Problems, Series III. Full color illustrations, charts, and other visual materials have been selected to offer an effective means of amplifying lecture topics.

ABCNEWS ABC News/Prentice Hall Video Library for Social Problems. Selected video segments from award-winning ABC News programs such as Nightline, ABC World News Tonight, and 20/20 accompany topics featured in the text. Please contact your local Prentice Hall sales representative for more details.

Distance Learning Solutions. Prentice Hall is committed to providing our leading content to the growing number of courses being delivered over the Internet by developing relationships with the leading venders—Blackboard™, Web CT™M, and CourseCompass™. Through these relationships, we provide premium, book specific content in the delivery method of your choice. Please contact your local Prentice Hall representative to find out more about our solutions in this area or visit our online demo site at

For the Student

Student Study Guide. This carefully written guide helps students better understand the material presented in the text. Each chapter consists of chapter summaries, learning objectives, detailed chapter outlines, key terms, and self-test questions page referenced to the text.

The New York Times Supplement. The New York Times and Prentice Hall are sponsoring Themes of the Times, a program designed to enhance student access to current information of relevance in the classroom.

Through this program, the core subject matter provided in the text is supplemented by a collection of time-sensitive articles from one of the world's most distinguished newspapers, The New York Times. These articles demonstrate the vital, ongoing connection between what is learned in the classroom and what is happening in the world around us. To enjoy the wealth of information of The New York Times daily, a reduced subscription rate is available. For information, call toll-free: 1-800-631-1222.

Prentice Hall and The New York Times are proud to cosponsor Themes of the Times. We hope it will make the reading of both textbooks and newspapers a more dynamic, involving process. This supplement is supplied free to students and is updated twice per year.

Sociology on the Internet: A Critical Thinking Guide, 2001. This guide focuses on developing the critical thinking skills necessary to evaluate and use online sources effectively. The guide also provides a brief introduction to navigating the Internet, along with complete references related specifically to the sociology discipline and how to use the Companion Websites™ available for many Prentice Hall textbooks. This brief supplementary book is free to students when shrinkwrapped as a package with any sociology title.

Companion Website™. In tandem with the text, students can now take full advantage of the World Wide Web to enrich their studies through the Social Problems Website. This study resource will correlate the text with related material available on the Internet. Features of the Website include chapter objectives, study questions, as well as links to interesting material and information from other sites on the Web that reinforce and enhance the content of each chapter. Address:

ContentSelect Research Database. Offers you access to hundreds of magazine and academic journal articles related to the discipline of sociology. Available around the clock from your computer, ContentSelect gives you what you need when you need it. Access this valuable resource through the Companion Website™.

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