The sociological viewpoint of the social problems arises from the concept of sociological imagination (Mills, 1959). The sociological perspective is that the social problems originate from the societal aspects. It includes both the personal as well as the public problems. The personal problems or issues affect the individuals and other members of the society due to own moral and personal failings of individual. Examples of personal problems include unemployment and divorce etc. The public problems indicate those problems that lie in the society’s culture and social structures and affect several people. So, the sociologists have used the term sociological imagination in order to refer the capability to realize the structural and cultural basis for the problems of individuals. According to the viewpoint in our popular culture, social problem is fundamentally real because it is opposed to the affirmative characteristics of a social well-being. Considering an example of poverty, that is just opposite to the social well-being, and paves way to the racial conflict, mental and physical illness, prejudice and hatred (Gans, 1972).
The sociological viewpoint towards social problem differs from our popular culture in a way that it does not look at the feelings of people that are caught in the social problems. The popular culture goes into the depth and considers people’s feelings. It also emphasizes on the fact that the social problems do not arise from the problems but instead they are constructed socially and originate from mind of people. The sociological viewpoint considers such problems as real but according to the popular culture viewpoint they are not essentially real but they have the potential of having actual consequences for the ones involved. Sociologists consider that social problem depends on the personal perception of an individual. If an individual considers a matter as a social problem then it is a social problem. Similarly, if they consider it not a problem then it is not counted as social problem, for example abortion, some people regard abortion as murder and considers it a problem. So, it is a social issue for them but some people consider it a solution and relief from unwanted child and for such people it is not a problem.
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Mills, C. Wright. (1959). The Sociological Imagination. Oxford University Press, London
Gans, Herbert. J. (1972). The Positive Functions of Poverty. American Journal of Sociology, 78(2), 275–289.