Social Problems / Edition 5

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Frames social problems and solutions through politics.

Macionis's book is the only social problems text that explains how society frames social problems and solutions through politics.

The text analyzes social issues and policies, using the concepts of sociological theory and the everyday language of politics. It also helps students understand the attitudes and values that define the political spectrum in the United States. Once students know how social problems are defined by our society through politics, and how the policies to solve these problems are developed, they can become involved in solving social problems through activism and political involvement.

Teaching & Learning Experience

  • Personalize Learning – The new MySocLab delivers proven results in helping students succeed, provides engaging experiences that personalize learning, and comes from a trusted partner with educational expertise and a deep commitment to helping students and instructors achieve their goals.
  • Improve Critical Thinking – Chapter organization follows a logical framework that traces a problem from its origin to solution.
  • Engage Students – International, national, and personal examples help students understand issues better.
  • Explore Theory – Major sociological theories and how they explain each social problem are discussed.
  • Understand Diversity – Features help students think globally about defining a solution to social problems.
  • Support Instructors – The only Social Problems text with an annotated instructor’s edition. Also, author-written test bank provides the best support for instructors.

Note: MySocLab does not come automatically packaged with this text. To purchase MySocLab, please visit: or you can purchase a ValuePack of the text + NEW MySocLab (at no additional cost): ValuePack ISBN-10: 0205949193 / ValuePack ISBN-13: 9780205949199.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Visually laid out well with call outs to relevant and critical information. Timely information with ways to get involved The best part of all of Macionis's texts is the application of the issue from the three major perspectives."

-Kimberly Johanek, Boise State University

"I love the organization of the book. It is very attractive for my students who have consistently and unanimously stated in course reviews that they liked their text book a whole lot."

-George Danns, Gainesville State College

"I think this is a strong, comprehensive text in social problems. I like the emphasis on solutions and getting students involved in issues. I also like that there are opportunities to "apply theory" in boxed material throughout the book."

-Jennifer Chernega, Winona State University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780205881390
  • Publisher: Pearson
  • Publication date: 10/26/2012
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 5
  • Pages: 552
  • Sales rank: 89,034
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 10.80 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

John J. Macionis was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a doctorate in sociology from the University of Pennsylvania.

John Macionis' publications are wide-ranging, focusing on community life in the United States, interpersonal intimacy in families, effective teaching, humor, new information technology, and the importance of global education.

In addition, John Macionis and Nijole V. Benokraitis have edited the best-selling anthology Seeing Ourselves: Classic, Contemporary, and Cross-Cultural Readings in Sociology. Macionis and Vincent Parrillo have written the leading urban studies text, Cities and UrbanLife (Pearson). Macionis’ most recent textbook is Social Problems (Pearson).

John Macionis is Professor and Distinguished Scholar of Sociology at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, where he has taught for almost thirty years. During that time, he has chaired the Sociology Department, directed the college’s multidisciplinary program in humane studies, presided over the campus senate and the college’s faculty, and taught sociology to thousands of students.

In 2002, the American Sociological Association presented Macionis with the Award for Distinguished Contributions to Teaching, citing his innovative use of global material as well as the introduction of new teaching technology in his textbooks.

Professor Macionis has been active in academic programs in other countries, having traveled to some fifty nations. He writes, “I am an ambitious traveler, eager to learn and, through the texts, to share much of what I discover with students, many of whom know little about the rest of the world. For me, traveling and writing are all dimensions of teaching. First, and foremost, I am a teacher—a passion for teaching animates everything I do.”

At Kenyon, Macionis teaches a number of courses, but his favorite class is Introduction to Sociology, which he offers every semester. He enjoys extensive contact with students and invites everyone enrolled in each of his classes to enjoy a home-cooked meal.

The Macionis family—John, Amy, and children McLean and Whitney—live on a farm in rural Ohio. In his free time, Macionis enjoys tennis, swimming, hiking, and playing oldies rock-and-roll (he recently released his first CD). Macionis is as an environmental activist in the Lake George region of New York’s Adirondack Mountains, working with a number of organizations, including the Lake George Land Conservancy, where he serves as president of the board of trustees.

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Table of Contents

(NOTE: Each chapter concludes with: Going On from Here; Chapter Summary; Key Concepts; Critical-Thinking Questions; Getting Involved; Sites to See.)
1. Sociology: Studying Social Problems.

Did You Know? Seeing Patterns: The Sociological Perspective. Defining Social Problems. Social Problems: Ten Assertions. Analyzing Social Problems: The Role of Theory. Finding the Facts: Sociological Research. Responding to Social Problems: Social Policy. Looking Beyond Ourselves: A Global Perspective. Politics: Constructing Problems and Defining Solutions.

2. Poverty and Wealth.
Did You Know? Economic Inequality in the United States. The Rich and the Poor: A Social Profile. Social Problems Linked to Poverty. Responding to Poverty: The Welfare System. Theoretical Analysis: Making Sense of Poverty. Politics: Constructing Problems and Defining Solutions.

3. Racial and Ethnic Inequality.
Did You Know? Race and Ethnicity. Minority-Majority Interaction. The Social Standing of U.S. Minorities. Prejudice. Discrimination. Theoretical Analysis: Making Sense of Race and Ethnicity. Politics: Constructing Racial and Ethnic Problems and Defining Solutions.

4. Gender Inequality.
Did You Know? What Is Gender? Gender and Social Institutions. Gender Stratification. Theoretical Analysis: Understanding Gender Inequality. Feminism. Politics and Gender: Constructing Problems and DefiningSolutions.

5. Aging and Inequality.
Did You Know? The Life Course. Growing Old. The Graying of the United States. Problems of Aging. Theoretical Analysis of Aging. Politics and Aging: Constructing Problems and Defining Solutions.

6. Crime and Criminal Justice.
Did You Know? Norms, Laws, and Crime? Street Crime: Problem. Street Crime: Who Are the Criminals? Other Dimensions of the Crime Problem. Explaining Crime: Biological and Psychological Theories. Explaining Crime: Sociological Theories. The Criminal Justice System. Politics: Constructing and Solving the Crime Problem.

7. Violence.
Did You Know? What Is Violence? Criminal Violence. Family Violence. Social Dimensions of Violence. Explaining Violence: Biological and Psychological Theories. Explaining Violence: Sociological Theories. Politics and Violence: Constructing Problems and Defining Solutions.

8. Sexuality.
Did You Know? What Is Sex? Sexual Attitudes in the United States. Sexual Orientation. Pornography. Sexual Harassment. Prostitution. Teenage Pregnancy. Abortion. Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Theoretical Analysis of Sexuality. Politics: Constructing and Solutions.

9. Alcohol and Other Drugs.
Did You Know? What Is a Drug? Types of Drugs. Drugs and Other Social Problems. Approaches to the Drug Problem. Social Policy: Responding to the Drug Problem. Theoretical Analysis: Making Sense of Drug Related Social Problems. Politics and Drugs: Constructing Problems and Defining Solutions.

10. Physical and Mental Health.
Did You Know? The State of Health: A Global Perspective. Health Policy: For Care. U.S. Health Care in the United States: A System in Crisis? Mental Health and Illness. Theoretical Analysis: Making Sense of Health Problems. Politics and Health: Constructing Problems and Defining Solutions.

11. Economy and Politics.
Did You Know? Economic Systems. The Economy and Politics. Problems of the U.S. Political Economy. Theoretical Analysis of Economic and Political Problems. Political Economy: Constructing Problems and Defining Solutions.

12. Work and the Workplace.
Did You Know? The Importance of Work. Structural Changes in the U.S. Economy. Problems of the U.S. Workplace. New Information Technology: The Brave New Workplace. Theoretical Analysis of Work-Related Social Problems. Politics and the Workplace: Constructing Problems and Defining Solutions.

13. Family Life.
Did You Know? What Is a Family? Problems of Family Life. Theoretical Analysis of Family Problems. Politics and Family Life: Constructing Family Problems and Defining Solutions.

14. Education.
Did You Know? The State of Education: A Global Perspective. Problems with U.S. Education. Theoretical Analysis of Educational Problems. Politics and Education: Constructing Problems and Defining Solutions.

15. Cities and Urban Life.
Did You Know? The Evolution of U.S. Cities. Problems of Today's Cities. Theoretical Analysis of Urban Problems. Politics and Urban Life: Constructing Problems and Defining Solutions.

16. Population and Global Inequality.
Did You Know? Global Population Increase. Global Inequality. Theoretical Analysis of Global Inequality. Politics and Global Inequality: Constructing Problems and Defining Solutions.

17. Technology and the Environment.
Did You Know? Ecology: Studying the Natural Environment. Environmental Problems. Theoretical Analysis of Society, Technology, and the Environment. Politics and the Environment: Constructing Problems and Defining Solutions.

18. War and Terrorism.
Did You Know? War and Peace: Basic Definitions. Terrorism. Theoretical Analysis of Understanding War and Terrorism. Politics and War: Constructing Problems and Defining Solutions.

Photo Credits.
Name Index.
Subject Index.
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If you were to try to identify a social problem, what would it be? How about "poverty"? In a country that is very rich, after all, millions of people should not be poor. Yet, it might surprise you to know that, in a recent poll asking people to identify the most serious social problems facing the United States, "poverty" was not even in the top ten (see page 5).

What about this: Is inequality between women and men a bigger problem today than it was a century ago? Based on measures of public opinion, the answer is "yes." Indeed, there is much more concern today about treating women and men equally than there was when the last century began. Yet, how do we explain today's greater concern about gender inequality when—by almost any measure—women today are far better off, and far closer to equality with men, than they were in 1900?


Understanding how and why people come to define issues as "social problems" is the focus of this new book. Social Problems differs from any text that has come before in a basic and exciting way: Rather than simply presenting various "problems" and then offering "solutions," this text employs a social constructionist approach. This means, first, that we focus attention on how and why certain issues come to be defined as problems in the first place. Similarly, we examine why other issues (that might involve even more human suffering) are not defined as problems.

For instance, take the first case mentioned above—poverty. US. society has always been accepting of considerable poverty within the population, primarily because our culture places suchan emphasis on self-reliance. This emphasis means that we tend to see individuals as responsible for their own success or failure. Thus, poverty exists, but it is often defined as the result of personal deficiency rather than of flaws within society itself.

A social constructionist approach also helps explain the second example, involving gender. A century ago, women's social standing was much lower than it is today—indeed, across the country, the law did not permit women even to vote in elections. But, back then, few people thought women should be the social equals of men. In other words, inequality existed but it was not widely defined as a problem. Today, by contrast, US. culture offers much more support for gender equality, so most people now support the idea that women and mend should have the same rights and opportunities. And, consequently, we are more likely to define the inequalities that remain (even though they are much smaller) as a problem in need of a solution.

A second major contribution of the social-constructionist approach is that it points out the role politics plays in how people define problems and why they support various solutions to those problems. We begin in Chapter 1 by explaining the political spectrum3ranging from radicals on the left to liberals, conservatives, and radicals on the right. Then, subsequent chapters apply the various political viewpoints to the particular issues at hand. In each case, as we might expect, what is defined as a problem from, say, a conservative point of view is very different from what is defined as a problem by liberals, or radicals on the left. Indeed, it often happens that one person's "problem" is another person's "solution."


Sociology has much to say about all the issues and controversies that make up today's political scene. This is not to say that readers of this text should expect to find definitive solutions to all the problems that face humankind. Sociology offers no magic bullets. But the discipline does provide important insights and information, without which no problems are likely to be solved. First, sociological research yields important facts. Any discussion of, say, poverty in the United States must include some basic data: How many poor people are there? What categories of the population are at greatest risk of poverty? Second, sociology offers theoretical analysis—guided by various theoretical paradigms—to explain how and why things happen the way they do. Throughout, this text makes use of the structural-functional, symbolic-interaction, and social-conflict paradigms-each of which offers useful insights about poverty and other topics. Third, sociology can serve as a guide for political analysis of the issues. What is the conservative view of poverty in the United States? How does a liberal perspective differ? What do radicals suggest to address poverty? In addition, we will explore which categories of people tend to view poverty (and other issues) from each of the political perspectives. And why.


This text is the main part of a complete learning package. Accompanying it is a rich Companion Website™ that provides powerful support for learning, and which is provided at no additional cost to the student. This Companion Website™ offers a full and interactive study guide that features many helpful tools, including chapter quizzes, interactive maps, roll-over graphics, links to hundred ofWeb sites, and self-grading practice tests for all the chapters of the book.


Part I of this book, titled "Sociology's Basic Approach," introduces students to the discipline of sociology and the study of social problems. Chapter 1 describes sociology's distinctive perspective, acquaints students with commonly used methods for gathering facts and information, and illustrates the use of sociology's major theoretical paradigms. In addition, this introductory chapter explains what sociologists mean by "social problem," provides national and global illustrations, and gives students tools for evaluating social policies that address problems. Most important, reflecting the emphasis on social construction in this text, this chapter explores the importance of politics in shaping how people construct social problems and how they define their solutions.

Part II addresses social inequality. Chapter 2 focuses on poverty and wealth in the United States, explaining the extent of economic inequality, profiling the rich and the poor, highlighting the challenges faced by low-income people, examining the welfare system past and present, and explaining how U.S. society has historically viewed the rich and the poor. Chapter 3 tackles two other dimensions of inequality—race and ethnicity. This chapter explains how and why societies construct racial and ethnic categories, points up various ways in which minorities struggle in a majority society, surveys the social standing of various racial and ethnic categories of the U.S. population, and investigates the causes and consequences of prejudice and discrimination. Chapter 4 focuses on gender inequality, explaining how societies construct gender, how gender distinctions are evident in the operation of the economy, the family, and the other social institutions, the importance of gender as a dimension of social stratification, and the response of feminists to gender stratification. Chapter 5 spotlights aging and inequality, beginning with an explanation of how societies construct the life course; it examines the increasing share of older people in the United States and considers a number of issues linked to growing old, including social isolation, ageism, crime, poverty, poor housing, inadequate medical care, and the challenge of facing up to the ultimate reality of death.

Part III of the book investigates problems of deviance, conformity, and well-being. Chapter 6 turns our attention to crime and the criminal justice system. The chapter explains how and why societies construct criminal law and define certain acts as criminal, introduces statistics used to track the extent of crime, and profiles "street" criminals. The chapter then investigates other types of crime, including juvenile delinquency, hate crime, white-collar crime, corporate crime, organized crime, and "victimless" crime, and concludes by surveying the operation of the police, courts, and the penal system. Chapter 7 extends this discussion to the topic of violence, explaining how different societies applaud certain types of violence while condemning others. In addition, the chapter surveys patterns of criminal and family violence and identifies factors linked to criminal violence, including the mass media, poverty, drugs, gangs, and easy availability of guns. The focus of Chapter 8 is sexuality. This chapter first explores sexuality as a biological process as well as a cultural construction, then tackles controversies surrounding sexual orientation, pornography, sexual harassment, prostitution, teenage pregnancy, abortion, and sexually transmitted diseases. In Chapter 9, our attention turns to alcohol and other drugs. The chapter begins by defining "drugs" and examining how and why some societies endorse use of certain drugs while outlawing the use of others. The chapter also surveys the extent of alcohol and other drug abuse, discusses the link between drug abuse and family life, homelessness, health, crime, and poverty, and concludes with various responses to drug abuse. Chapter 10 completes this part of the text by addressing physical and mental health; it begins with a global survey of the state of human health and health care policies, including how societies define being "healthy" The chapter then investigates the US. health care system with an eye toward who has care and who does not, the challenges and policies relating to physical disabilities, and how U.S. society defines mental health and illness.

Part IV of the text surveys problems of the various social institutions. Chapter 11 leads off investigating the economic and political systems of the United States. This chapter explores how societies define justice in terms of wealth and power, examines the influence of corporations and the power of money to direct political life, and offers explanations for the widespread voter apathy that exists in this country. Chapter 12 surveys problems of work, first, by tracking the effects of the Information Revolution, deindustrialization, and the globalization of the economy. The chapter then identifies various workplace hazards, explores the experience of alienation, and documents the rise of low-skill "McJobs" and temporary work. The chapter concludes with a look at unemployment, workplace barriers faced by women and other minorities, and the decline of unions. Chapter 13 explores a number of issues surrounding family life, beginning with a look at the changing definitions of "family," and then highlighting controversies surrounding cohabitation, delayed marriage, single parenting, work and family conflicts, child care, divorce, remarriage, gay and lesbian families, and new reproductive technology. Chapter 14 investigates problems of education, explaining, first, why and how societies define schooling as necessary, and surveying the extent of schooling in the United States and around the world. The chapter then assesses the performance of U.S. schools—especially in terms of their ability to address the needs of this country's increasingly diverse student population and of people with disabilities—and examines issues such as dropping out, illiteracy, racial segregation, tracking, unequal funding, and school violence. Chapter 15 completes this part of the text with a survey of the problems of urban life. Beginning with a look at the development of U.S. cities, the chapter tackles current issues, including fiscal problems of today's cities, urban sprawl, urban poverty, urban housing, homelessness, and the uneven growth of Snowbelt and Sunbelt cities.

Part V of the text examines important global problems. Chapter 16 highlights the planet's population increase, charting trends in fertility and mortality around the world. The chapter continues with analysis of global poverty and hunger, with special focus on women and children, and also documents the continued existence of slavery. The focus of Chapter 17 is technology and the environment. This chapter begins by exploring how people define the environment and highlights the role of sociology in environmental studies. The chapter continues by explaining how technological advances, as well as cultural patterns, set the stage for environmental problems such as too much solid waste, too little fresh water, air pollution, the loss of rain forests, and global warming. Finally, Chapter 18 focuses on war and terrorism, assessing the causes and consequences of war, the nuclear threat, the role of children in wars around the world, and strategies for peace. The chapter then discusses why some military actions are defined as terrorism, the extent of terrorism worldwide, and how nations respond to terrorist activity.


Social Problems stands apart from other texts in terms of many things that matter: writing quality, content, and design. The following sections detail its outstanding features:

Politics and problems: The social-constructionist approach. What can be more engaging than debates about the shape of U.S. society and the larger world? Curiously, however, for decades other social problems texts have missed most of the excitement by simply putting forward a list of social problems and then suggesting solutions to each of them. What's wrong with that? The approach falls flat because it misses a vital fact: In a socially and politically diverse nation, people disagree about such things. Indeed, the heart of politics is the process of defining which conditions are "social problems" and identifying which policies should be employed as "solutions."

This text is different: It puts the "politics" back into the study of social problems. Instead of handing students a pre-packaged list of "problems," this text takes a social-constructionist approach, explaining how and why various categories of people define some issues as "problems" in the first place. Similarly, students using this text will understand why, given the political character of the United States, this country is more likely to adopt certain policies and not others as "solutions." Moreover, by taking part in the discussion as to which conditions should and should not be defined as problems, students actively develop their own positions and can better understand the arguments of those who see things differently.

Beginning in Chapter 2 and continuing throughout the book, readers will find at the end of each chapter a major section titled "Politics: Constructing Problems and Defining Solutions:" These sections apply the political perspectives of conservatives, liberals, and radicals to the topic at hand. Doing this is an experience rather like (and here I am afraid I reveal my age) switching a sound system from "mono" to "stereo," because it adds new depth to political debates. Providing a multi-perspective political analysis brings issues to life by highlighting differences of opinion and ensuring that all students find their own "voice" in the text. All of these political analysis discussions end with a "Left to Right" table that summarizes the way the various political perspectives construct problems and define solutions related to the chapter's topic.

Recognizing the importance of political diversity, this text invites students to consider all points of view—especially, how class, gender, race, and other variables influence people's political viewpoint—and encourages them to be thoughtful and to define their own positions. Indeed, only by understanding the arguments advanced by all political perspectives can people confidently develop and defend their own positions and views.

The best writing style. This text offers a writing style that excites students, motivating them to read the book—even beyond their assignments. The best evidence of this comes from the students themselves. Here are recent e-mail comments from students who have used the author's companion introductory texts, Sociology and Society: The Basics:

"I'm a college student in California and my sociology class used your book. It was by far the best textbook I have ever used. I actually liked to read it for pleasure as well as to study; anyway, just wanted to say it was great."

"Thanks for writing such a brilliant book. It has sparked my sociological imagination. This was the first textbook that I have ever read completely and enjoyed. From the moment that I picked the book up I started reading nonstop."

"I am a sociology major and my department and I live by your textbook. I just wanted to tell you that writing it was definitely a stroke of genius. You did a great job. I appreciate the time and effort you put into the book and I just wanted to let you know that you have touched a student across the United States."

"I have read four chapters ahead; it's like a good novel I can't put down! I just wanted to say thank you."

"Your book is extremely well written and very interesting. I find myself reading it for pleasure, something I have never done with college texts. It is going to be the only collegiate textbook that I ever keep simply to read on my own. I am also thinking of picking up sociology as my minor due to the fact that I have enjoyed the class as well as the text so much. Your writing has my highest praise and utmost appreciation."

"I am taking a sociology class using your book and I have told my professor it is the best textbook that I have ever seen, bar none. I've told her as well that I will be more than happy to take more sociology classes as long as there is a Macionis text to go with them."

In addition to a writing style that brings sociology to life, Social Problems has a design that draws students into the book. Every page of this new text has been handcrafted by the author and production team—people who share a passion for producing beautiful books.

"Defining moments" This text introduces students to individuals and events that have helped change the way in which US. society defines social problems. We explain how political leaders such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lyndon Baines Johnson tried to rally a country to define poverty as a problem, how ordinary individuals such as Rosa Parks helped change the way society looked on racial discrimation, just as Elizabeth Cady Stanton helped change people's views of gender inequality. Indeed, throughout history, individuals have helped societies to define issues in new ways, including Thomas Robert Malthus, who, at the end of the eighteenth century, raised awareness of the consequences of unchecked population increase; Dorothea Dix, who championed care for people with mental disabilities during the nineteenth century; Eugene Debs, who, a century ago, called the nation's attention to the plight of working people and helped secure their right to form labor unions; Jacob Riis, an early twentieth-century reformer who called the nation's attention to the suffering of immigrants in the tenements of New York City; Bill Wilson, founder of Alcoholics Anonymous during the 1930s, who helped change the way we look at alcohol abuse; Mahatma Gandhi, a leader in India during the 1940s who tried to teach the world to settle international disputes non-violently; Alfred Kinsey, who, in the 1950s, opened up discussion of sexuality; Dr. C. Henry Kempe, who defined the problem of child abuse in the 1960s; or Rachel Carson, who helped launch the current environmental movement. Today, as well, individuals such as these continue to prompt society to rethink issues, as in the case of Dr. Jack Kevorkian,who has sparked public debate over a "right to die," and Dorig ("Granny D") Haddock, who has raised awareness of the power of money to direct US. politics.

Each chapter of Social Problems profiles a "Defining Moment" individual or event. These special features not only teach students about important turning points in history, but also illustrate the power of individuals to make a difference in the United States and the world.

Effective use of theory. Just as the world of politics involves different ways of looking at issues and events, so the discipline of sociology makes use of different theoretical approaches. Each chapter of Social Problems applies three major theoretical approaches—the structural-functional, symbolic-interaction, and social-conflict paradigms. Each of these theoretical paradigms calls attention to different facts and patterns to provide particular insight into the issues at hand.

Emphasis on critical thinking. Presenting students with different ways of thinking about issues is the best way to develop their critical-thinking abilities. In addition to its emphasis on political and theoretical diversity, this text uses a number of features to sharpen critical-thinking skills. These include placing a "Critical Evaluation" section right after each theoretical discussion in order to point up important contributions and limitations; placing a series of "What do you think?" questions at the end of each of the theme boxes to encourage students to formulate their own opinions about the issue at hand; placing four "Critical-Thinking Questions" at the end of each chapter, prompting students to apply lessons from the chapter to new issues and questions; and, finally, writing many of the map and photograph captions in the form of questions in order to challenge students to actively engage the issues.

A focus on policy. Social Problems is a text that focuses not only on problems but on solutions. Therefore, a large part of every chapter of the text is devoted to social policy. The politics sections that conclude every chapter critically consider the various policy approaches to the issues favored by conservatives, liberals, and radicals. In addition, a series of fourteen "Social Policy" theme boxes are spread throughout the book and provide multiple perspectives on important issues.

A national and global focus. Social Problems takes primarily a national focus, investigating the controversies that surround social life here in the United States. At the same time, understanding the issues at home often requires placing our country in a broader, global context. By looking at the bigger picture, for example, we see that the official poverty rate in the United States is much higher than it is in other high-income nations. Such comparisons, clearly, spark questions about why and stimulate students to think about how a condition that many people in one nation define as "natural" could be defined as a "problem" by most people in another part of the world.

The second reason for a global focus is to broaden the social policy discussion. By teaching students something about the problems and policies of other countries, this text shows them that the range of possible responses to a condition (such as the poverty of a significant share of a population) may be far greater, or far more limited, than what is widely discussed here at home.

Third, and finally, some issues are simply global in scope. Population increase, hunger, the state of the natural environment, war, and terrorism are issues that must be studied in a global context and which demand global responses.

Readers will find information 'about not only the United States but also other countries in every chapter of this book. In addition, to help students learn more about the rest of the world, the text contains a series of ten "A Global Perspective" theme boxes and nineteen "A World of Differences" global maps spread across the chapters.

National and global maps. A decade ago, the Macionis introductory texts were the first to include a series of global and national maps to highlight sociological patterns and trends. These highly popular maps are included in Social Problems. In this new text—and nowhere else—readers will find thirty-six colorful maps that heighten student interest and increase student learning.

Nineteen "A World of Differences" global maps illustrate the planet's diversity with regard to women's political power, child labor, the death penalty, prostitution, life expectancy, infant mortality, access to personal computers, literacy, energy consumption, current military conflicts, and other issues of interest.

In addition, seventeen "A Nation of Diversity" national maps highlight the diversity of the United States with regard to the poverty rate, the African American, Asian American, and Hispanic American populations, total minority population, death row inmates, concealed weapon laws, cigarette smoking, voter apathy, life expectancy, access to the Internet, divorce, dropping out of school, air quality, and other issues of interest.

Boxes highlight themes of the text. Social Problems includes fifty-five boxes (three or four per chapter—twice the number found in other texts) that highlight important themes of the text. These include "Critical Thinking" boxes, which help students to assess arguments and form their own opinions; "Social Policy" boxes, which focus on controversial laws and public policies; "A Global Perspective" boxes, which provides international comparisons of important issues; and "Personal Stories" boxes, in which real individuals describe social issues in terms of personal life experiences.

A celebration of social diversity. In its photographs, maps, boxes, and coverage of issues, this text reflects the social diversity of the United States and the larger world. Indeed, this text makes special efforts to include the voices of all people—women and men, old and young, African American, Asian American, and those of Latino and European heritage—just as it presents all points of view. In addition, while recognizing that some categories of the U.S. population face many more challenges than others, this text is careful to avoid treating minority populations as "problems" in and of themselves.

Engaging features that enhance learning. This text provides a number of features that raise student interest and enhance learning. "Did You Know?" is a chapter-opening list of interesting and sometimes startling facts that makes the student want to read further. Each chapter also begins with a chapter-opening vignette, a real-world situation that generates interest and illustrates an important theme. "What do you think?" questions accompany every box in the text. A "Chapter Summary" is included at the end of each chapter to highlight key facts and arguments and help students assess their comprehension. A list of "Key Concepts," with clear definitions, is placed at the end of each chapter, and a full fisting appears in the Glossary at the end of the book. "Critical-Thinking Questions," found at the end of each chapter, help students form their own opinions and apply the chapter's lessons to new situations. Suggested activities for "Getting Involved" are also presented at the end of each chapter. Finally, a list of Internet "Sites to See" concludes each chapter, providing direction for students who wish to extend their search and expand their learning.

Recent research and the latest data. Macionis texts have earned a reputation for having the most up-to-date content. In addition to using current events to illustrate important ideas, Social Problems includes recent material from a wide range of scholarly journals as well as the popular press, Internet sites, and the 2000 U.S. Census. This text is supported by the research reflected in more than 1,000 citations, twothirds of which refer to work published since 1990. We do what it takes to ensure that the statistical data included in this text are the very latest available.


The commitment of this text to representing the social diversity of the United States and the world carries with it the responsibility to use language thoughtfully. In most cases, we prefer the terms "African American" and "person of color" to the word "black:" We use the terms "Hispanic" and "=Latino" to refer to people of Spanish descent. Most tables and figures in the text refer to "Hispanics" because this is the term the US. Census Bureau uses when collecting statistical data about our population.

Students should realize, however, that many individuals do not describe themselves using these terms. Although the term "Hispanic" is commonly used in the eastern part of the United States, and "Latino" and the feminine form "Latina" are widely heard in the West, across the country people of Spanish descent identify with a particular ancestral nation, whether it be Argentina, Mexico, some other Latin American country, or Spain or Portugal in Europe.

The same holds for Asian Americans. Although this term is a useful shorthand in sociological analysis, most people of Asian descent think of themselves in terms of a specific country of origin (say, Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, or Vietnam).

In this text, the term "Native American" refers to all the inhabitants of the Americas (including the Hawaiian Islands) whose ancestors lived here prior to the arrival of Europeans. Here again, however, most people in this broad category identify with their historical society (for example, Cherokee, Hopi, or Zuni). The term "American Indian" designates only those Native Americans who live in the continental United States, not including Native peoples living in Alaska or Hawaii.

Learning to think globally also leads us to use language carefully. This text avoids the word "American"—which literally designates two continents—to refer to just the United States. For example, referring to this country, the term "U.S. economy" is more correct than the "American economy." This convention may seem a small point, but it implies the significant recognition that we in this country represent only one society (albeit a very important one) in the Americas.


Each chapter of Social Problems includes a listing of Internet "Sites to See," which are current, informative, and relevant to the material at hand. Bear in mind, however, that any such listing of Web sites requires several words of caution:

First, Web sites change all the time. While we have made every effort to check the sites listed for quality and currency, they may not be updated in a timely way. For that matter, there is also the possibility that some sites have disappeared entirely.

Second, the list of suggested sites offers various points of view on the topic at hand. The listing of a site does not mean that the author or the publisher agrees with everything—or even anything—found at the site. Students should always be critical of what they encounter on the Internet.

Third, many of the sites listed in this book are popular. Therefore, they may not always respond quickly to a visitor. If this is the case, be patient, try again later, or move on to something else.


The ancillary materials that accompany Social Problems are a part of a complete learning package and have been carefully created to enhance the topics being discussed.

For the Instructor

Instructor's Resource Manual. For each chapter in the text, this resource provides a detailed outline, list of objectives, discussion questions, and classroom activities.

Test Item File. A test item file is available in both printed and computerized forms. The file contains 1800 items—100 per chapter—in multiple choice, true-false, short answer, and essay formats; the answers to all questions are page-referenced to the text. Prentice Hall Custom Test is a test generator designed to allow the creation of personalized exams. It is available in Windows and Macintosh formats.

ABC News/Prentice Hall Video Library for Sociology. Through its wide variety of award-winning programs—Nightline, This Week, and World News Tonight—ABC offers a resource for feature and documentary-style videos related to the topics in Social Problems. The programs have high production quality, present substantial content, and are hosted by well-versed, well-known anchors.
• Volume V—Social Problems I
• Volume IX—Social Problems II

Prentice Hall Color Transparencies, Social Problems. Full-color illustrations, charts, and other visual materials from the text as well as outside sources have been selected to make up this useful in-class tool.

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 platforms—Blackboard ™ and Web CT™, as well as CourseCompass, Prentice Hall's own easy-to-use course management system powered by Blackboard™.

For the Student

Study Guide. This complete guide helps students review the material presented in the text. Each of the eighteen chapters in the Study Guide provides an overview of the corresponding chapter in the student text, summarizes its major topics and concepts, offers applied exercises, and features end-of-chapter tests with solutions.

Macionis Companion Website™. In tandem with the text, students and professors can now take full advantage of the World Wide Web to enrich their study of social problems. The Social Problems Web site correlates the text with related material available on the Internet. Features of the Web site include chapter objectives and study questions, interactive exercises and videos, and links to interesting material and information from other sites on the Web that can reinforce and enhance the content of each chapter.

ContentSelect Research Data base. Prentice Hall and EBSCO, the world leader in online journal subscription management, have developed a customized research database for students of sociology. The database provides free and unlimited access to the text of more than seventy-five peer-reviewed sociology publications through an access code, which is available free when packaged with Social Problems.

10 Ways to Fight Hate. This brochure is produced by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the leading hate-crime and crime-watch organization in the United States. It walks students through ten steps that they can take on their own campus or within their communities to fight hate on an everyday basis. It can be packaged free with this textbook.

Sociology on the Internet: Evaluating Online Resources. This guide provides a brief introduction to navigating the Internet, along with references related specifically to the discipline of sociology and information on how to use the Companion Website™ for Social Problems. This supplementary book is free to students when packaged with Social Problems.

The New York Times Supplement, Themes of the Times, for Social Problems. The New York Times and Prentice Hall are sponsoring Themes of the Times, a program designed to enhance student access to current information relevant to the classroom. Through this program, the core subject matter provided in this text is supplemented by a collection of timely 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 co-sponsor Themes of the Times. We hope it will make the reading of both textbooks and newspapers a more dynamic, involving process.

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