Contemporary Social Problems: An Introduction to the Sociology of Deviant Behavior and Social Disorganization

Contemporary Social Problems: An Introduction to the Sociology of Deviant Behavior and Social Disorganization

Contemporary Social Problems: An Introduction to the Sociology of Deviant Behavior and Social Disorganization

Contemporary Social Problems: An Introduction to the Sociology of Deviant Behavior and Social Disorganization

Excerpt

Three central ideas govern the scope and character of this book. First, that with the growth of sociological knowledge, the "field" of social problems has increasingly become an array of associated sociological specialties; second, that a comprehensive theory of social problems does not yet exist, although it may be in the making; and third, that the student can best be led to an understanding of social problems by having him focus on the problems of a complex, industrial society, seen in the broader context provided by comparison with other types of societies. A few words about each of these governing ideas will introduce the reader to the plan and rationale of the book.

In sociology as in other learned disciplines, specialization increases as more and more knowledge accumulates through the combined efforts of more and more scholars and scientists. The sociologist of a generation or two ago could acquire a thoroughgoing knowledge of just about everything that was then known about social problems, for as compared with today, relatively few sociologists were investigating these problems. With the increased pace of research, however, it has become a formidable task to keep up with the work being done on even a few of these problems and almost impossible to keep thoroughly abreast of the work going forward on all of them. The sociology of population and the sociology of mental health, for example, are developing at such a pace that the sociologist who would remain abreast of either of these subjects recognizes that he cannot be equally informed about specialized inquiries in the fields, say, of race and ethnic relations or of family disorganization.

As sociologists generally realize, this development has led to the course on social problems becoming a set of associated sociological specialties: of specialties dealing with forms of deviant behavior expressed, for example, in crime and juvenile delinquency, mental illness . . .

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