Social Problems: Continuity and Change

(14 reviews)


Pub Date: 2016

ISBN 13:

Publisher: University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing

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Reviewed by Katherine MacTavish, Associate Professor, Oregon State University, on 9/30/2014.

The book takes a comprehensive approach to social problems addressing major social institutions (family, school, work and health care) and including … read more



Reviewed by David McLeod, Assistant Professor, University of Oklahoma, on 1/13/2015.

Attempting to comprehensively cover all aspects of social problems, with the extensiveness of marginalization, diversity, and oppression that exists … read more



Reviewed by Vanessa Jones, Lecturer, Cleveland State University, on 6/11/2015.

Through the text, Barkan provides a comprehensive definition of social problems and policy processes, overview of critical current issues and … read more



Reviewed by Gordon Walker, Instructor, Portland Community College, on 1/8/2016.

The book is extremely comprehensive, covering major challenges society is facing in the 21st Century, and would serve well as a reference book and as … read more



Reviewed by Heidi Esbensen, Adjunct/Part-time Faculty, Portland Community College/Portland State University, on 1/8/2016.

This text covers a broad spectrum of social problems coherently and thoroughly. One of the strengths of this text is the manner in which it provides … read more



Reviewed by Hannah Liebreich, Lecturer, University of Hawaii at Manoa, on 8/22/2016.

The overall layout of the textbook is logical and comprehensive. Additionally, the layout of each chapter is well organized and provides a wide range … read more



Reviewed by Rosalie Schofield, Associate Professor, Temple University, on 8/22/2016.

The text offers a broad overview of key social problem areas that will be of interest to students. It offers a table of contents that details the … read more



Reviewed by Megan Kuykendoll, Instructor, Miami University, on 8/22/2016.

This text provides a VERY comprehensive look at overall social problems within the United States and provides a well-defined section on a variety of … read more



Reviewed by Komal Dhillon, Adjunct Professor, Virginia Tech, on 2/9/2017.

Social Problems: Continuity and Change reads as an introductory text that exposes readers to a wide array of social issues. As such, the breadth of … read more



Reviewed by Victoria Blanchard, Instructional Faculty, Virginia Tech, on 2/9/2017.

The range of topics covered by the text is appropriate, and the concepts covered within the subjects are, overall, appropriate for an introduction to … read more



Reviewed by Cheryl Wright, Associate Professor, University of Utah, on 2/16/2017.

The book is very comprehensive and covers the contemporary and important social problems in our society. It is up-to-date. It is high quality … read more



Reviewed by Jolene Sundlie, Sociology Instructor, Saint Paul College, on 4/12/2017.

This text covers all the chapters/topics you would expect in a Social Problems text. The chapters are concise at about twenty pages per chapters. The … read more



Reviewed by Cindy Hager, Instructor, Sociology, Alexandria Technical and Community College, on 4/12/2017.

The text covers a comprehensive look at social problems and provides an examination of discipline specific material as well as statistical … read more



Reviewed by Michelle Crossley, Assistant Professor, Rhode Island College, on 4/12/2017.

The text does a wonderful job of bringing in a vast array of social problems and related them to real world events. I am aware that it can be … read more


Table of Contents

  • Chapter 1: Understanding Social Problems
  • Chapter 2: Poverty
  • Chapter 3: Racial and Ethnic Inequality
  • Chapter 4: Gender Inequality
  • Chapter 5: Sexual Orientation and Inequality
  • Chapter 6: Aging and Ageism
  • Chapter 7: Alcohol and Other Drugs
  • Chapter 8: Crime and Criminal Justice
  • Chapter 9: Sexual Behavior
  • Chapter 10: The Changing Family
  • Chapter 11: Schools and Education
  • Chapter 12: Work and the Economy
  • Chapter 13: Health and Health Care
  • Chapter 14: Urban and Rural Problems
  • Chapter 15: Population and the Environment
  • Chapter 16: War and Terrorism

About the Book

Social Problems: Continuity and Change is adapted from a work produced by a publisher who has requested that they and the original author not receive attribution. This adapted edition is produced by the University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing through the eLearning Support Initiative.

Social Problems: Continuity and Change is a realistic but motivating look at the many issues that are facing our society today. As this book’s subtitle, Continuity and Change, implies, social problems are persistent, but they have also improved in the past and can be improved in the present and future, provided that our nation has the wisdom and will to address them.

It is easy for students to read a social problems textbook and come away feeling frustrated by the enormity of the many social problems facing us today. Social Problems: Continuity and Change certainly does not minimize the persistence of social problems, but neither does it overlook the possibilities for change offered by social research and by the activities of everyday citizens working to make a difference. Readers the book will find many examples of how social problems have been improved and of strategies that hold great potential for solving them today and in the future.

You will find several pedagogical features help to convey the “continuity and change” theme of this text and the service sociology vision in which it is grounded: Each chapter begins with a “Social Problems in the News” story related to the social problem discussed in that chapter. These stories provide an interesting starting point for the chapter’s discussion and show its relevance for real-life issues. Three types of boxes in each chapter provide examples of how social problems have been changed and can be changed. In no particular order,

A first box, “Applying Social Research,” discusses how the findings from sociological and other social science research have either contributed to public policy related to the chapter’s social problem or have the potential of doing so.

A second box, “Lessons from Other Nations,” discusses how another nation or nations have successfully addressed the social problem of that chapter.

A third box, “People Making a Difference,” discusses efforts by individuals, non-profit organizations or social change groups, or social movements relating to the chapter’s social problem. Students will see many examples in this box of how ordinary people can indeed make a difference.

A fourth box in each chapter, “Children and Our Future,” examines how the social problem discussed in that chapter particularly affects children, and it outlines the problem’s repercussions for their lives as adolescents and adults. This box reinforces for students the impact of social problems on children and the importance of addressing these problems for their well-being as well as for the nation’s well-being.
Each chapter ends with a “Using What You Know” feature that presents students with a scenario involving the social problem from the chapter and that puts them in a decision-making role. This feature helps connect the chapter’s theoretical discussion with potential real-life situations.

Each chapter also ends with a “What You Can Do” feature that suggests several activities, strategies, or other efforts that students might undertake to learn more about and/or to address the social problem examined in the chapter. Like other aspects of the book, this feature helps counter “doom and gloom” feelings that little can be done about social problems.

Other pedagogical features in each chapter include Learning Objectives at the beginning of a major section that highlight key topics to be learned; Key Takeaways at the end of a major section that highlight important points that were discussed in the section; For Your Review questions, also at the end of a major section, that have students think critically about that section’s discussion; and a Summary that reviews the major points made in the chapter.

The founders of American sociology a century or more ago in cities like Atlanta and Chicago wanted to reduce social inequality, to improve the lives of people of color, and more generally to find solutions to the most vexing social problems of their times. A former president of the Society for the Study of Social Problems, A. Javier Treviño, has used the term service sociology to characterize their vision of their new discipline. Social Problems: Continuity and Change is grounded in this vision by offering a sociological understanding of today’s social problems and of possible solutions to these problems.

About the Contributors


Unnamed Author is a former president of the Society for the Study of Social Problems and professor of sociology at the University of Maine. He is the author of another Sociology: Understanding and Changing the Social World, which won a Textbook Excellence Award from the Text and Academic Authors Association. He is also the author of several other textbooks: (1) Criminology: A Sociological Understanding, fifth edition (Prentice Hall); (2) Fundamentals of Criminal Justice, second edition (with George Bryjak; Jones and Bartlett); (3) Collective Violence, second edition (with Lynne Snowden; Sloan Publishing); (4) Discovering Sociology: An Introduction Using MicroCase ExplorIt, third edition (Wadsworth); and (5) Law and Society: An Introduction (Prentice Hall). He has also authored more than thirty journal articles and book chapters in venues such as the American Sociological Review; Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion; Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency; Justice Quarterly; Mobilization; Review of Religious Research; Social Forces; Social Problems; Social Science Quarterly; and Sociological Forum.

Unnamed Author also serves as a regional representative on the council of Alpha Kappa Delta, the international sociology honor society, and spent seventeen years (fortunately, not all consecutive) as chair of his department. He has received an Outstanding Faculty Award from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Maine. A native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Unnamed Author has lived in Maine for the past thirty-three years. He received his PhD in sociology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and his BA in sociology from Trinity College (Hartford, Connecticut), where he began to learn how to think like a sociologist and also to appreciate the value of a sociological perspective for understanding and changing society. He sincerely hopes that instructors and students enjoy reading this book in the format of their choice.