Where does a social problem come from and what can be done about it at the macro, micro, and mezzo levels? Social policy decisions made by all levels of the government, educational, religious, and health care institutions, business firms, and every other social institution create consequences for the communities and economies they serve. Sociologists are tasked with examining individual choices and behaviors and tracing them back to decisions made at the social level. For this project you are charged with finding how a specific social problem of your choice has been created, exacerbated, and maintained by social institutions. Your project will address the following:
Institutional Analysis – identify the major social institutions holding the greatest influence over your social problem and the ways they help affect it, both positively and negatively. You must base your analysis on a minimum of 10 research sources, 5 of which must come scholarly journals, not a “common sense” sociological assessment based on opinion. Be specific! How precisely are these social institutions engaging with the problem in a way that is causing, reinforcing, or augmenting the social problem? Who is benefiting? Who is suffering? Why do the institutions continue to function in the manner they do? Is the issue something that only affects certain people? Is there sufficient public awareness and concern for the issue, and does that concern help address the matter? Nearly all social problems will have multiple social institutions impacting a single social concern, but if you choose to focus on one institution, your analysis should go into great depth with precise details.
Systemic Change – how might we change the social institutions you identified in order to better address community need? What would the social institutions you identified need to look like for your social problem to be improved upon? What community- and individual-level changes do you identify as assistive in supporting the institutional changes you identified? Did you identify any positive systemic change already occurring and, if so, how might that be expanded? Be sure to spell our multiple levels of proposed change and if your solution is multi-step, identifying each step clearly how it might affect social change. The paper should include theories, themes, perspectives, or solutions examined in class together throughout your analysis. The final product should be between 3-4 single-spaced pages in length, in 12-point standard font, with one-inch margins, using ASA reference citation style where appropriate.
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