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Modern Social Problems

Suggested essay topics
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Here are some suggested questions you might write about in your essays.

Questions about government and social problem solving:

Historian Arthur Schlesinger suggested the U.S. government experiences a cyclical shift between interventionist policies and laissez-faire.  Where do you think we are now? (at which or toward which extreme?) Why do you think so?

 

How do you think 9/11/01 changed the balance?  Is the war on terrorism and the aftereffects of 9/11 itself creating new social problems?  How do you see the government response to these social problems?

Who decides it's a social problem?  Government? Social Movements? Media?  Who SHOULD decide?

 

Questions concerning the family:

What role does the media play in how we construct the meaning of "family"?  Has it changed?  Does what the media presents cause or reflect social change?

 

How can we minimize child or spousal abuse in America?  (Hint: look at the causes for solutions!)

 Now that life expectancy in America is almost double what it was a century ago, should we continue to hold the norm of one marriage for life?  (Hint for one approach: try to discern what values are at play in our ideas of what marriage is, and is not.)

Is divorce a threat to American society?  How [not] and why [not]?

 

Questions for chapter on Healthcare:

How does economic and racial inequality play a role in healthcare?

Some suggest that we should create a system of universal access to high-quality healthcare for all Americans. What does this mean? Do you agree? What is the downside?

How can we cut healthcare costs without affecting the quality of care?

Perhaps we have never faced the important issues concerning health care services in this country. Do you agree? What do you think these issues are?

What is meant by a "single payer system"? Do you favor such a system? Why?

Is there really a social problem here? Are many people being hurt? Is the cause social?

What might be some unintentional consequences in a single payer system ?

If you were a doctor, nurse or health care administrator, would you want to work in a single payer or national healthcare system?

 

Questions for chapter on Race and Ethnicity:

What are some of the reasons that so many Mexicans come to the United States? ( Normally, we should be able to identify "push" factors vs. "pull" factors. )

What are Americans afraid of as far as Mexican immigration is concerned?

In what ways do you believe Mexican Americans are in a different position than other minorities in the United States?

What is the future going to be, given the large numbers of Mexicans immigrating to the United States? What will have to change and how will it change?

Do you believe that racism against Mexican Americans is a problem in the United States?

What do you believe causes different groups in American society to excel in different ways?

Describe a society without racism. What qualities would be noticeable?

What values are violated by the effects of racism? What societal goals are more difficult to achieve?

You may always choose to answer your own questions!  There are plenty of them raised in class as well.
Here are links to some pages with articles on social problems. They represent all kinds of points of view.