Curriculum Guideline

Social Issues

Effective Date:
Course Code
SOCI 1155
Social Issues
Humanities & Social Sciences
Start Date
End Term
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
Lecture: 2 hrs. per week / semester Seminar: 2 hrs. per week / semester
Method Of Instruction
Methods Of Instruction

The course will employ a variety of instructional methods to accomplish its objectives, including some of the following:  lectures, audio visual materials (including overheads, films), small group discussions, oral presentations (discussion seminars) and specialist guest speakers.

Course Description
This course introduces students to the concepts, methods, and theories of sociology through the examination of social problems. It examines the social conditions and processes related to defining, responding to, and resolving social problems. Social problems to be examined range from personal to institutional issues and include historical as well as contemporary examples.
Course Content
  1. Introduction
    • Private Troubles and Public Issues
    • Approaches to Studying Social Problems
    • Assumptions, Concepts and Actors
    • Social Problems, Morality and Policy
  2. Sociological Perspectives of Social Problems:  Theoretical and Interpretive Frameworks
    • Functionalist, Conflict and Interactionist Perspectives
  3. The History of Social Problems
    • Definition
    • Mobilization
    • Politicization
    • Reaction and Response
    • Policy Implementation and Treatment
  4. Private Troubles and Public Issues:  Addictions
    • Problems:  Crime, Health, Economics
    • Costs, Analysis, Solutions
  5. Private Troubles and Public Issues;  Sex and Sexuality
    • Problems:  Gender, Sexual Preference
    • Eroticism, Coercion and Violence
    • Reproduction and Sexuality
  6. Structural Problems I:  Crime and Inequality
    • Social Definitions of Crime
    • Crime and the Media
    • Legal Definitions, Causality, Deterrence
    • Social Inequality and Poverty
    • Class and Stratification
    • Racial, Ethnic, Gender, and Regional Inequality
    • Poverty and Social Policy   
  7. Structural Problems II:  Gender and Race
    • Sociological & other Explanations of Gender
    • The Problematic:  Family, Work, Poverty, Violence
    • Ethnicity and Aboriginality; Discrimination and Racism
    • Multiculturalism:  Different Visions
    • Discrimination and Racism
    • Social Policy: Self-determination and Aboriginal Rights
  8. Institutional Problems:  Families and Formal Organizations
    • Demographics and Changing Ideas of the Family
    • Power and Resources
    • Parental Relations
    • Parent-Child Relations
    • Formal Organizations and the Workplace
    • Organizational Change:  Bureaucracy, Technology and Restructuring
    • Labour and Corporate Culture
    • Training, Skills and Global Competition
  9. The Mass Media:  The Social Construction of Social Problems
    • The Media as Propaganda
    • Political Economy of the Media
    • Newscasting, Television Programming, Advertising
    • The Media as a Reflection of Society
    • The Media as Product
  10. Globalization
    • Cultural Homogenization and Differentiation
    • Market Imperatives;  Multinationals and the Bottom Line
    • Neocolonialism
    • Demographics
Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the course the successful student will be able to:

  1.  Identify the major social problems evident in contemporary Canadian society, including both microproblems involving interpersonal relations as well as macroproblems involving structural factors and change.
  2. Discuss the actors, the interests, and the processes by which these social factors are constructed as social problems.
  3. Describe the primary theoretical perspectives used by sociologists in approaching social problems.
  4. Discuss the relations between traditionally private and emerging social areas of concern, such as addiction and sexuality, and explain their emergence as focal concerns of social policy.
  5. Understand and explain the ways in which structural factors such as age, class, race and gender are related to social problems and issues.
  6. Describe the social, political and economic contexts of social inequality, with an emphasis on poverty, and explain the ways in which these are socially constructed.
  7. Apply a range of theoretical perspectives to interpret social problems associated with gender, race and ethnicity.
  8. Discuss the ways in which formal institutions, especially the family, formal organizations and the workplace have become redefined in terms of power, violence, diversity and technology.
  9. Discuss the ways in which the mass media have become involved in the social construction of social problems.
  10. Explain the global dimension of social problems, both as sources of Canadian social issues and in terms of the linkages and precedents they provide in interpreting domestic issues.
  11. Evaluate contemporary social policy in terms of its capability to accommodate social problems.
  12. Critically evaluate social problems in terms of the organization and structure of contemporary Canadian society.

Means of Assessment

The evaluation will be based on course objectives and will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy.  The instructor will provide a written course outline with specific evaluation criteria at the beginning of the semester.  Evaluation may be based on some of the following:


  • exams made up of multiple choice, true/false, short answer, and short essay questions
  • an essay assignment
  • an oral presentation
  • participation in class discussions
  • student presentations
  • group discussions


An example of an evaluation scheme would be:

Midterm exam  25%
Essay assignment   25%
Essay outline    5%
Final exam  25%
Short written assignment              10%
Participation  10%
Total 100%


Textbook Materials

Examples of textbooks that may be used for this course include:


  • Kendall, D., V. Nygaard  and  E. G. Thompson (2011). Social Problems in a Diverse Society (3rd Cdn. Ed.). Toronto: Pearson Education Canada.
  • Mooney, L.A., D. Knox, C. Schacht, and M. Holmes (2008). Understanding Social Problems (3rd  Cdn. Ed.). Scarborough, ON: Nelson Education Canada.


Which Prerequisite