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(Solved) Social Construction of Social Problems SWPS II: Week 3 Interweaving Themes of Weeks 3, 4 (& a wee bit of 5) This part of the course...

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-the issue I would like to use is Trump executive order on immigration

-it is a 4 pages double spaced paper with 6 additional sources need to use (one of that is the stone causal theory stories)

Social Construction of Social
SWPS II: Week 3 Interweaving Themes of Weeks 3, 4
(& a wee bit of 5) This part of the course emphasizes three
interrelated concepts:
1.the SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION of social problems, policy and our
work context in general.
2.The significance of economic, social and political POWER; how it is
gained, how it is employed (for good or ill purposes), how it is
maintained over time
a) …. And how it is countered through effective MOBILIZATION
well as (perhaps sadly) how power is often used to thwart nascent mobilization] The discussion of Social Problem Construction, Power & Mobilization
informs some of the underlying thematic threads of the course:
1.the role of STRUCTURAL forces and conditions in shaping people’s lives (and problems).
2.the importance of examining and analyzing the operation of INSTITUTIONS and ORGANIZATIONS [as The Social Constructivist Perspective I The Social definition of a problem may have little to do
with that condition’s objective traits.
There are many CONDITIONS in the world, but not all of
these are recognized socially as actionable problems.
Problems that people experience may simply be seen as Accidents
The result of one’s own actions
Issued by Nature or God
The result of another’s personal actions
The result of normal institutional processes & procedures
(i.e. the “system” operating as designed. The Social Constructivist Perspective II The way we conceive of conditions in the world (seen as
problematic or not) is socially constructed. Example: Often things come to be seen as PROBLEMS not
because some objective indicator changed, but rather because
some one changed our WAY OF SEEING the condition so that
we saw it as problematic.
Civil Rights movement: changed whites’ conception of
Environmental movement: changed people’s conception of
air and water pollutants. What did a smoking chimney mean
after 1960?
Child abuse/Spouse abuse: how do people respond to the idea
of “a whipping” today? The Social Constructivist Perspective III
The process of defining conditions and then determining
whether or not these are problems is a political process.
Many parties have interests in the outcome of the problem definition process. They will attempt to influence that process. Blumer: “A social problem is always a focal point for the operation of divergent
and conflicting interests, intention and objectives.” KEY POINT: We’re looking today at how conditions become problems. The difference is subtle. We’re talking about the “Legitimation” phase of the
Social Problem Process. Its not that people don’t see some conditions as
lamentable; the key is whether or not they see those conditions as worthy of
collective, public ACTION. The SP is real, but not all that big. The SP is real, but its just part of “nature”. Stone: Causal Stories
Stone is interested in the transformation of
conditions/difficulties into political problems.
Stone is interested in the social construction of social problems.
However, she is less sociological in focus and is more interested
in the formal political arena and how political debate plays out.
Stone’s analytic grid is very useful when we have an occurrence
that is clearly seen as problematic and responsibility for it
needs to be assigned.
So its about Problem Definition: ABOUT CAUSAL
“Problem definition is a process of image making, where the
images have to do fundamentally with attribution, cause, blame,
and responsibility.” WHAT IS A CAUSAL
STORY? Causal stories are a political competition by which
players attempt to define a phenomenon in such a
way as to attribute responsibility for that
phenomenon onto to some set of persons or
beings. Stone’s Causal Story Model In Stone’s table, where do the real
big fights occur? The fight, in the politics of social problems is about what (in
terms of this table)? If you are an advocate and you want to address the
environmental problem of toxic dumping near poor
neighborhoods, what cell would you try to push the causal story
toward? If you are head of PR or legal counsel to the firm accused of
dumping toxic waste near poor neighborhoods, what cell would
you try to push the causal story? The “Risk” factor….
If we were to only look at intent in the analysis we’d be missing a
major nuance to the politics of causal attribution. The issue of risk
opens up two ways of looking at the INADVERTANT CAUSE
When a Pinto blows up, no one argues that Ford Motor Company intended the
explosion to occur. But they do assign moral culpability to Ford and in a sense shift the Pinto
problem from one of Inadvertent to Intent or Mechanical WHY? because Ford made an intentional decision to compromise on safety
knowing that it would lead to deaths and then covered up their knowledge of the
risk they took. How might this pertain to the roll-out of the Trump Administration’s Executive
Order on Immigration and refugees from selected Mideast Nations? Exercise/Discussion
Where would you place the following problems /
1.The Bhopal Disaster (Stone article)
2.Assault Weapons Massacres: Sandy Hook, Aurora Colorado, etc.
3.Firestone Tires on SUV’s. (Stone article)
4.The Financial Crisis (that necessitated the TARP bailouts of 2008/09).
5.Video/Audio Examples:
(Note : # 5 (video example) might change from year to year; this one goes beyond Stone’s model into the realm of
debate over the meaning of an event: “event X is what kind of story”): Video and Audio Examples of Issue
Framing: Trump’s Executive Order restricting
immigration from select Mideast Nations White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer Chief of Staff Rheince Priebus on Meet The Press See Min 1:00 - 5:00!#full-episodes See opening to Jan. 30 episode, go to
min 4 or 5 (Fineman comment btw 4 and 5) Conversation on KCRW’s To The Point (audio) See Min Chris Matthews critique
8:00 Nihad Awad (Dir. CAIR) statement http://
/ See min 21:30-25:00; 38:45-40:00; 41:30-43:00 see Jan. 30 podcast; start at min 17 go thru min
35 Joe Scarborough see Min 11:15 OLDER: Video Clips: framing
Sandy Hook and the Gun Control
NRA VP: Wayne LaPiere on MTP: Brady Campaign’s Hennigan on different visions of
America President Obama announcement of Plan to Reduce
Gun Violence (to about 8 min) Hartmann frames the Gun Lobby: (start at 1:45 go
to 3:10) A wrinkle to the game of causal attribution SINGLE ACTOR CAUSAL ATTRIBUTION: simple story of a single individual or group of actors
singular will
singular understanding of the phenomenon
Single Actor or Group is responsible for its occurrence and can
justifiably be held accountable. THIS IS RARE. COMPLEX CAUSAL ATTRIBUTION: When cause cannot be reduced to single actor(s). Three types:
Social Systems
Historical or Structural Forces Causal Stories have
tremendous impacts on
When we successfully assign blame in the eyes of the public, we....
1. ...Challenge
or protect an existing social order
2. ...Assign responsibility to particular actors so that someone will have to
d. Stop an activity
Do it differently
Compensate its victims
Face punishment 3. ...Legitimate and empower particular actors as fixers of the problem.
a. This can lead then to problem solvers getting into the problem definition game in order to get
business. 4. ...Create new political alliances between groups involved in the issue.
Once human cause is established, all hell breaks lose as a new game emerges: what
party is truly THE responsible culprit: individuals, a company, a supplier,
regulators, the whole system? The higher you go on the food chain, the more
potential change, but also the story becomes more complex. Will people stay with it? How Causal Story Analysis relates to Claimsmaking Analysis
Question: How does the CLAIMSMAKING analysis
intersect with the Stone Model?
1.It draws our attention to a more STRUCTURAL ANALYSIS of who wins and loses in the Political game of Causal Story
Construction. …AND (Convenient Segue Point to new theme)…
2.It draws our attention to POWER issues (segue!) and to issues of how dominant economic, racial, ethnic, cultural groups are able to
“MOBILIZE BIAS” in favor of their preferred framing and thus
their preferred POLICY ends. How do Problems First Emerge?
Through a process that Spector &Kitsuse call “Claims Making”
What is Claims Making?
1.A form of interaction.
2.A demand made by one party to another that something be done about a putative condition.
3.A social process by which a claim comes to be recognized by the community as
4.For this to occur, S and K say the following criteria must be met:
c) The demand must be made in a legitimate way
It must have a moral rather than self-interested foundation.
It must be made to the appropriate respondent or responding institution. Assertions
Claims are endogenous to their social context. They only make sense in their context. We
cannot assess their value without intimate knowledge of this context. How should we study the claims making
process? What questions should we ask?
Often legit claims are IGNORED because they arise within ONE
social context but are not RECOGNIZED as legit by ANOTHER
social context.
1.How do claimants and recipients of claims come together? How does our
society structure the process of making claims?
2.How does the claimant decide where to lodge the claim/complaint?
3.How do claimants decide what form to make their claim in?
4.Those institutions that traditionally receive/respond to claims (police, courts,
corporate grievance depts., the EEOC; OSHA; welfare offices, consumer
protection groups…):
What’s the diff btw a welfare to work recipient and a Unionized New York
Park District worker bringing a claim against a manager? Examining Claims Making introduces
us to the Institutional Perspective How do Institutions influence claims
making (think of the welfare office)? How do they influence claims making (think of the welfare
office)? Does a claims receiving institution even EXIST? Can there be cases where there exists an onerous condition in the
world that effects people but no institution exists to respond to the
issue? What happens to claims in these situations? How are they
expressed? The Claims making process analyzed
The Claimant The
Claim The Way
it is made To Whom
it is made In what
forum it
is made When / under
what conditions
it is made Expected
Outcome is complaining at the bar about the crappy wages at the oil pump factory claims making?
is raising your hand at a public forum and complaining about the lead pipes in your building
claims making?
is writing your representative in congress claims making?
is throwing a garbage can through a store front window claims making?
Is a SONG claims-making? Is it a “legitimate” form of CM? Links & Web Resources on Framing
Frameworks Institute State of the Union Real Clear Politics Issue Pages Debts and Deficits:
topic=Deficit&id=13266&letter=d Financial Crisis Recession and Unemployment


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