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Social problems

Offer semester
2nd semester

Lecture time
Tuesday 1.30pm – 4.20pm

Lecture venue

Course description

This course introduces students to a sociological approach to understanding social problems.

It demonstrates how sociological imagination can be exercised with the theoretical perspectives covered, hence we can make sense of and analyze contemporary social problems in a way conducive to possibilities of changes or solutions.

Students will be shown why seemingly isolated social problems are not aggregates of personal troubles; more precisely, how sociological perspectives help us shed light on how social problems are always multi-faceted and connected by broader historical and social forces.

In particular, attention is drawn to the way social problems are produced by systems of inequality and power, and are part of the way our society is organized, especially in the midst of social changes.

We will conclude the course by reflecting upon how individuals and the society can act and address these social problems.

This course is delivered in a 3 hour lecture format (with breaks).

Course learning outcomes

Upon completing the course, you should be able to:

  1. look beyond common sense in making sense of contemporary social problems; that is:
    • analyze social problems with the application of one or more of the theoretical perspectives covered
    • examine how social institutions and systems of power and privilege interconnect with one another, overlap or intersect to create social problems in a processual, dynamic manner
    • see how our social world is socially constructed
  2. engage oneself with one’s own experience in the local or relevant context, and critically reflect upon how one’s personal life experiences are interwoven with the larger picture of social and historical forces as well as social changes.
  3. rethink how one’s perceptions of social problems are shaped and how we can act as catalysts for change.


Tutorial participation and project20%
Two essays (1,500 words,15% each)30%

Required reading

Rubington, E., & Weinberg, M.S. 2010. The Study of Social Problems: Seven Perspectives (7th ed.). Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.

Course co-ordinator and teachers