Man's Quest for Social Guidance: The Study of Social Problems

By Howard W. Odum | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
GENERAL APPROACH

Why Study Social Problems ? In the preceding chapter something of the unity and plan of The Study of Social Problems was presented. In that general outline of content and method was indicated also something of the need of social interpretation, of the nature of social problems, and of acceptable methods of study. In this chapter we shall continue the approach to the study of social problems and social relationships through a further examination of these three points of emphasis. Our first question, therefore, will be, "Why study social problems?" And our general reply to this question will be threefold. The study of social problems is, first of all, important to the individual in his education and social development. In the second place, it is essential to the well-ordered direction of society and to the promotion of social welfare. In the third place, knowledge of society and its problems is of the utmost importance to science, with its ever widening horizon. For at last society, which has almost universally neglected the study and promotion of its own welfare until it has first devoted its attention to all things else, has witnessed remarkable discovery and development in the field of social science.

The Equipment and Development of the Individual . The study of social problems is important to many types of individuals and for various reasons. To the everyday man, the citizen, the taxpayer, the worker, the homemaker, the patriot, the study of current social problems and trends is an essential part of his common training and equipment. It helps him to keep abreast of current changes and movements. It helps him to understand problems and movements of democracy, of education, of social advance. It gives him a basis for his participation in government, in community, and in other matters of institutional coöperation. It gives him a better cultural background in ways not possible through other means of study. It enables him to see causes and effects. It enables him to interpret the backgrounds of social

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