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How Can We Solve Our Social Problems?

How Can We Solve Our Social Problems?

Third Edition

Social Problems

November 2015 | 344 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
“Rarely do I find a book that so clearly and concisely presents the material is such an accessible engaging manner. I just hope it never goes out of print!”  
– Chris Adamski-Mietus, Western Illinois University  

Many of today’s social problems—poverty, crime, racism, sexism, drug abuse, unequal access to quality health care or education, threats to the environment, over-population—can seem intractable. James A. Crone’s How Can We Solve Our Social Problems?, Third Edition is designed to give students studying these types of social problems a sense of hope. Unlike the standard survey texts that focus heavily on the causes and consequences of problems, this book is devoted to analyzing possible solutions. It maintains a sense of sociological objectivity throughout, and without moralizing, describes what could be done in America and on a global scale, through government policies, private sector initiatives, and the collective actions of citizens, to address even our most pervasive social problems.  

Contributor to the SAGE Teaching Innovations and Professional Development Award

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Chapter 1: Preparing to Solve Our Social Problems
What Is a Social Problem?

History of Studying Social Problems

Teaching About Social Problems in Today’s World

How Can Sociologists Address Social Problems and Yet Remain Objective?

What Social Problem Should We Solve First?

How Might Sociological Theory Help Us to Solve Social Problems?

A Theory of Conflict and Social Change: A Way to Better Understand and Therefore Solve Our Social Problems

Causal Model: A Picture of Our Theory

My Own Theoretical Orientation

Other Sociological Theories That Can Help Us Understand and Solve Social Problems

Concluding Thoughts on Theory and Social Problems

Addressing Social Problems Within Capitalism

The Next Chapter

Questions for Discussion

Chapter 2: Barriers, Possibilities, and How Sociology Can Help
Barriers to Solving Our Social Problems

Possibilities for Solving Our Social Problems

How Can Sociology Help to Solve Social Problems?

Questions for Discussion

Chapter 3: How Can We Solve the Problem of Increasing Inequality?
Definition and Statistics

Causes of Growing Inequality

Consequences of Growing Inequality

Options We Have With Inequality

What Should We Do?

Questions for Discussion

Chapter 4: How Can We Solve the Problem of Poverty?
Assumptions We Can Make About Solving Poverty

What Can We Do?

Concluding On an Optimistic Note

Questions for Discussion

Chapter 5: How Can We Solve the Problem of Racial/Ethnic Inequality?
Now, and Where to Next?

What Might Racial/Ethnic Equality Mean?

What More Can We Do?

Questions for Discussion

Chapter 6: How Can We Solve the Problem of Gender Inequality?
What Can We Do?

Concluding Thoughts

Questions for Discussion

Chapter 7: How Can We Solve the Problem of Unequal Education?
What Can We Do?

Problems That Prevent Us From Having Excellent Public Schools

Tax Money for Schools

Positive Consequences

What Will Not Work If We Want Excellent Public Education: The Voucher System

Questions for Discussion

Chapter 8: How Can We Solve the Problem of Crime?
What Can We Do?

A Dilemma: Capitalism and Crime

Questions for Discussion

Chapter 9: How Can We Solve the Problem of Drugs?
Keep the Current Policy

Legalize Drugs for Adults

Take a Step-by-Step Approach by Legalizing One Drug at a Time

Where to Go From Here?

Questions for Discussion

Chapter 10: How Can We Solve the Problem of Health Care?
Consequences of Our Problem

Why Don’t We Have a Health Care System That Covers All Citizens Like All Other Industrial Nations?

Criteria for a Health Care System For All Americans

How We Could Implement These Criteria

Advantages of Health Care For All Americans

Disadvantages of Health Care For All Americans

What Other Countries Include in Their National Health Care Systems

The Future: What Could Happen?

Summer and Fall 2009 and Winter 2010: Finally, Serious Debate

March 21, 2010: Health Care Reform Passes Congress

Questions for Discussion

Chapter 11: How Can We Solve the Problems of Families?
Decreasing Inequality to Help Families

Decreasing Poverty to Help Families

Creating Enough Jobs and Enough Decent-Paying Jobs to Help Families

Creating Racial and Ethnic Equality to Help Families

Creating Gender Equality to Help Families

Including Gay and Lesbian Couples to Help Families

Decreasing Crime to Help Families

Changing the Way We Deal With Drugs to Help Families

Creating a National Health Care System to Help Families

Creating Good-Quality Education for All Students to Help Families

Educating Students to Help Families

Educating Parents to Help Families

Summary of What We Can Do to Help Families

Questions for Discussion

Chapter 12: How Can We Solve the World’s Population Problem?
Causes of the World’s Population Problem

What Can We Do?

Where Are We?

Questions for Discussion

Chapter 13: How Can We Solve the World’s Environmental Problem?

What Can We Do?


Questions for Discussion

Chapter 14: Solving Our Social Problems: Predictions and Conclusions
A Number of Similar Social Conditions

Defining a Social Condition as a Social Problem


Values and Vested Interests

Loss of Control Over the Social Problem

Attention and Resources

Someone Will Be Dissatisfied


Becoming Accustomed to Social Change

Capitalism and Social Problems

Environment, Population, and Standard of Living

Building a Sustainable Society


Questions for Discussion


“It is easy to read and gets to the point quickly without including unnecessary details. I also like that it provides realistic solutions, things that can be done either by individual or group effort…Rarely do I find a book that so clearly and concisely presents the material is such an accessible engaging manner. I just hope it never goes out of print!”

Chris Adamski-Mietus
Western Illinois University

“I adopted this book because of its readability and its emphasis on solving problems. Social problems can, quite frankly, be depressing to cover day in and day out. It's great to be able to end each unit or topic of discussion on a high note by discussing solutions.”

Laci Fiala
Walsh University

I've used this book, including previous editions, for a number of semesters and it's been very useful.

Dr Beverly Bennett
Social Science Dept, Wilbur Wright College
January 15, 2021

I lIke the information contained in this book, but it was a little light on introductory knowledge for my freshman level class. I may adopt it as a supplement next semester, but I don't think it could stand on its own in my particular class.

Ms Jennifer Darling
Soc Crim Just Sub Abuse Dept, University Of Central Oklahoma
July 7, 2016

Chose a different Sage textbook, shared this with a colleague who may be interested in it.

Mr barry davis
Arts Humanities Dept, Tri-State Bible College
September 21, 2015
Key features


  • Includes the most recent efforts to address problems of affordable and universal health care, marriage equality, and climate change.
  • Explores the latest thinking in the continuing debate over economic inequality in the U.S.
  • Key data and statistics have been updated throughout.


  • Gives students hope and a sense that there are indeed answers to the challenges we face in today's world with specific and realistic steps that can be taken to solve our social problems.
  • Illustrates how many problems are linked (like overpopulation and threats to the environments), and that solving one social problem can also help address others.
  • Helps students use theory to better understand the social problems we face, and to see sociology as a key tool for solving our social problems.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 3

Chapter 10

For instructors

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ISBN: 9781506304847

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