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Social problems: Who makes them?
Social problems: Who makes them?

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6.3 Summary

Taking the question of ideology seriously provides a way of developing beyond the limitations of the labelling perspective in studying the social construction of social problems in three main ways:

  1. Foregrounding ideology allows us to ask the questions: who says this is a social problem, and whose interests are being served by this definition? Looking at ideologies reminds us that the ways in which problems are identified and defined are neither obvious nor neutral but are socially motivated.

  2. The issue of ideology also directs attention to what sorts of solutions are being proposed or are implied in the way the problem is constructed. These too are socially motivated.

  3. The idea of conflicting ideologies provides a reminder that there is usually more than one definition of social problems in play – both in the definition of what conditions are social problems, and about how any particular problem should be defined and understood.