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Social Problems

Social Problems
Sociology in Action

First Edition
Edited by:

January 2020 | 400 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

The authors are proud sponsors of the 2020 SAGE Keith Roberts Teaching Innovations Award—enabling graduate students and early career faculty to attend the annual ASA pre-conference teaching and learning workshop.

Wake up your social problems classes! Social Problems: Sociology in Action helps your students learn sociology by doing sociology. 

Social Problems: Sociology in Action will inspire your students to do sociology through real-world activities designed to increase learning, retention, and engagement with course material. Inspired by the best-selling introductory sociology text, Sociology in Action, this innovative new book immerses students in an active learning experience that emphasizes hands-on work, application, and learning by example as they grapple with the causes and consequences of social problems as well as possible solutions. Each chapter explains key concepts and theories in social problems and pairs that foundational coverage with a series of carefully developed learning activities and thought-provoking questions. The comprehensive Activity Guide that accompanies the text provides everything you need to assign, carry out, and assess the activities that will best engage your students, fit the format of your course, and meet your course goals.

A Complete Teaching & Learning Package

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SAGE Lecture Spark
Designed to save you time and ignite student engagement, these free weekly lecture launchers focus on current event topics tied to key concepts in Sociology. Access this week’s topic.


Learning Activities
About the Authors
About the Contributors
Unit I: Inequalities as Social Problems
Kathleen Odell Korgen
Chapter 1: Understanding and Solving Social Problems
What is a Social Problem?

Sociology and the Study of Social Problems

Why are some, But Not Other, Social Conditions Considered Social Problems?

How Can Professional Sociologists—and You—Help Solve Social Problems?

How to Conduct Social Scientific Research

Dawn R. Norris
Chapter 2: Analyzing Economic Inequalities
Economic Inequality and Social Problems

Explaining Economic Inequality

Wealth and Income Gaps: How Much Inequality Exists?

The Question of Mobility

Social Problems That Cause Economic Inequality

Social Problems Caused by Economic Inequality

Solving the Social Problem of Economic Inequality: Policies, Movements, and Action

Meghan Burke
Chapter 3: Recognizing Racism and Racial Inequalities
What is Race?

What is Racism?

Why Does Racial Inequality Exist?

Why Do Racial Inequality and Racism Persist?

What Social Problems Relate to Racism and Racial Inequalities?

How Can We Challenge and Address Racism and Racial Inequality?

Kris Macomber
Chapter 4: Examining Gender Inequalities
How Does a Social Constructionist Approach Examine Gender Inequality?

The Roots of Contemporary Gender Inequality: Identifying Patriarchal Culture

Contemporary Gender Inequality in the Workplace

Men’s Violence Against Women

How does Gender Inequality Affect Boys and Men?

Other Gendered Social Problems

Gender-Based Movements and Social Change

Jason Crockett
Chapter 5: Focusing on Sex and Sexualities
Sex and Sexualities

Social Responses to Sex and Sexualities

Enforcing Sexual Norms at the Micro Level

Why Attitudes Toward Sex and Sexualities Change

Unit II: Global Population Problems
Deborah Lowry
Chapter 6: Preparing for Aging Societies
What is Population Aging?

What Social Problems Accompany Aging Societies?

What are Governments Doing to Prepare for Aging Populations?

What Can Local Communities Do to Improve Conditions of Aging?

Daniel Herda
Chapter 7: Making Sense of Migration and Immigration
What Is Migration?

The Social Construction of Immigrants as a Problem

Social Problems Causing Migration

Social Problems Affecting Immigrants

Social Problems Caused by Immigration

Lillian MacNell
Chapter 8: Researching Environmental Problems
The Link between Environmental and Social Problems

The Environmental Costs of Powering Our Lives

Recognizing and Curbing Climate Change

Food and Agriculture

Confronting Environmental Injustice

Bridget Diamond-Welch
Chapter 9: Contesting Crime
The Social Construction of Crime

Mistakes in Claim Construction

Class, Race, Gender, and Critical Criminology

Social Problems that Cause Crime

Amy Sodaro
Chapter 10: Understanding War and Terrorism
Understanding War as a Social Problem

Seeing War as a Social Problem

War’s Impact on Society

Understanding Terrorism as a Social Problem

Consequences of Terrorism

Confronting War and Terrorism

Unit III: Institutional Problems
Rena C. Zito
Chapter 11: Identifying Problems in the Criminal Justice System
The U.S. Criminal Justice System


Courts and Corrections

Criminal Records

Rena C. Zito
Chapter 12: Discovering Problems in the Family
What is a Family?

Social Construction of Families as Problems

Family problems as Social Problems

Social Problems Affecting Families

Erinn Brooks
Chapter 13: Pursuing Equity in Education
Education and Schooling

The Purpose of Education

Social Problems in Education and Schools

Reforms that Can Improve Education Systems

Gregory T. Kordsmeier
Chapter 14: Prioritizing Health and Health Care Inequalities
Understanding Health and Health-Related Social Problems

How Social Problems Affect Health

Social Problems and Inequalities in the Health Care System

Facing Health Challenges Collectively

Kathleen Odell Korgen and Maxine P. Atkinson
Chapter 15: Realizing the Power—and Vulnerability—of Institutions
Why Does a Society Need Social Institutions?

Why Do Institutions Fail?

Declining Faith in Institutions in the United States

How Can Social Problems Weaken Institutions?

How Can We Save Our Social Institutions?

Glenn A. Bowen
Appendix: Addressing Social Problems through Service-learning
Fundamentals of Service-learning

Assessment of Service-learning

Tips for Faculty Considering Service-learning

Service-learning in a Social Problems Course



Instructor Resource Site
Instructors: The following online resources are included FREE with this text. For a brief demo, contact your sales representative today

Instructor Teaching Site  
SAGE COURSEPACKS FOR INSTRUCTORS makes it easy to import our quality content into your school’s learning management system (LMS).* Intuitive and simple to use, it allows you to

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*For use in: Blackboard, Canvas, Brightspace by Desire2Learn (D2L), and Moodle

Don’t use an LMS platform? No problem, you can still access many of the online resources for your text via SAGE Edge.

SAGE Coursepacks includes: 

  • Our content delivered directly into your LMS 
  • Intuitive, simple format that makes it easy to integrate the material into your course with minimal effort
  • Assessment tools that foster review, practice, and critical thinking, and offer a more complete way to measure student engagement, including:
    • Diagnostic chapter quizzes that identify opportunities for improvement, track student progress, and ensure mastery of key learning objectives
    • Test banks built on Bloom’s Taxonomy that provide a diverse range of test items with ExamView test generation
    • Activity and quiz options that allow you to choose only the assignments and tests you want—includes exclusive access to Doing Sociology activities not available in the print book 
    • Instructions on how to use and integrate the comprehensive assessments and resources provided
  • Chapter-specific discussion questions to help launch engaging classroom interaction while reinforcing important content
  • Assignable SAGE Premium Video (available via the interactive eBook version, linked through SAGE Coursepacks) that is curated and produced exclusively for this text to bring concepts to life and appeal to diverse learners, featuring: 
    • Corresponding multimedia assessment options that automatically feed to your gradebook
    • Comprehensive, downloadable, easy-to-use Media Guide in the Coursepack for every video resource, listing the chapter to which the video content is tied, a helpful description of the video content, and assessment questions 
    • Animated concept videos, as well as licensed AP news clips
  • Interactive data maps that help students take a closer look at the data presented in the print text and display additional data not found in the corresponding text maps
  • Activity Guide that details all Confronting Social Problems activities from the print book, as well as supplementary exercises not included in the print book; each activity is aligned with a learning objective and includes notes to instructors 
  • Editable, chapter-specific PowerPoint® slides that offer flexibility when creating multimedia lectures so you don’t have to start from scratch but you can customize to your exact needs
  • Sample course syllabi with suggested models for structuring your course that give you options to customize your course in a way that is perfect for you
  • Lecture notes that summarize key concepts on a chapter-by-chapter basis to help you with preparation for lectures and class discussions
  • Integrated links to the interactive eBook that make it easy for your students to maximize their study time with this anywhere, anytime, mobile-friendly version of the text. It also offers access to more digital tools and resources, including SAGE Premium Video 
  • All tables and figures from the textbook
Student Study Site
SAGE EDGE FOR STUDENTS enhances learning, it’s easy to use, and offers:
  • eFlashcards that strengthen understanding of key terms and concepts and make it easy to maximize student study time, anywhere, anytime
  • eQuizzes that allow students to assess how much they’ve learned and where they need to focus attention
  • Chapter learning objectives that reinforce the most important material

Key features
  • Each chapter is contributed by an expert in that subject who also uses active learning techniques in his or her classroom.

  • Several "Confronting Social Problems" learning activities in each chapter provide instructors with an abundance of ready-to-use activities for a wide range of instructional settings. 

  • Choose from a variety of activity types including personal reflection, content and data analysis, collaboration and group activities, observations, and short guided-research projects.

  • "Consider This" discussion questions encourage students to think more deeply about concepts for in-class discussions or assignments.

  • “Sociologists in Action” boxes spotlight the work of a student or a professional sociologist to illustrate how students can use sociological tools to make a positive impact on  problems facing society.

  • The concluding chapter, “Realizing the Power—and Vulnerability—of Institutions,” explores an emerging social problem: public loss of faith in institutions like government and the media.

  • A Service Learning appendix provides step-by-step instructions on how to design and implement a service learning feature into a social problems course, including online and large-lecture

  • Chapter Summaries emphasize key chapter content as a quick study reference, helping reinforce material.

  • Check Your Understanding questions help students stop and self-assess whether they comprehend the key points of every section.

  • Key terms and a glossary reinforce and define concepts to encourage on-the-spot comprehension.

  • The Activity Guide for instructors includes the complete text of every activity, along with extensive teaching notes.

  • Assignable SAGE Premium Video (available via the interactive eBook version, linked through SAGE Coursepacks) is curated and produced exclusively for this text to bring concepts to life and appeal to diverse learners.

  • Assignable data analysis activities enable students to access and use statistical information created from more than 400,000 government and non-government datasets.

For instructors

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