Mention the approaches to the study of social problems.

Approaches of social problems

The current age has shifted the way of perceiving the social problems. The sources of these societal evils were considered as genetic but now it is believed that they are beyond redemption. Presently, the emphasis is on social, economic, political, and cultural factors.

Therefore, the present time the cause of the social problem is at collective level and not at individual level. Before people used their whole energy on maintenance of social order but now it is mainly on preservation of equilibrium. It is believed that social problems arise due to contradictions residing in society and they can be removed by removing them from the society. Here, we will study about the major theories of genesis of social problems. They are:

The Functional Approach

This approach looks at the society like a system. It is a system where all parts are interconnected to form a whole. The society is considered as a basic unit and all the other parts are studied in relation with the society. Social institutions like family, religion and marriage are the parts that constitute the whole, that is the society. Functionalists see such social institutions as a part of the society but not as an isolated unit.

The portions of society are functional and they maintain the system as functional. If any of these portions hampers the regular functioning then it becomes dysfunctional. According to the Functionalists, the concept of dysfunction is of vital importance in the modern study of social problems.

The study of social problems needs focus on the dysfunction patterns of the society. Social dysfunctions ascend because of inadequacies of a system for gathering functional obligation. For example, shift from joint family to nuclear family. Therefore, care for the elderly people has become a social problem. The gathering of dysfunctions interrupts the whole stability of the society and creates new social problems.

Further, the society forms norms and values to continue balance between the different parts of the society. At times, certain circumstances infringe such social codes. This causes social problems like communalism.

Marxist Approach

Marxists believe that all societies are divided into two classes ruling and ruled. The ruling class is a marginal/less in number but abuses the ruled class who are a majority. For example, in capitalist society, the capitalists exploited the workers which has led conflicts between these two classes because one gains at the expense of the other. According to the Marxists, the social problems are caused by contradictions in-built in the system. According to Marx, some of the social problems in the capitalist society are:

  • Exploitation of a man by man,
  • Alienation,
  • Inequality, and
  • Poverty.

To maximize their profit, capitalists used to pay the least wages to their workers and extracted the maximum labor from them. In this way the capitalists exploited the workers. Workers were supposed to produce commodities and work according to the capitalists. So, in return they gets stranged from their own productions.

The units of production were also unequally distributed which has caused inequality in the society. This inequality increased when capitalists became richer and workers became poor. In this type of distribution of wealth there is increase in poverty. The solution of these social problems requires radical change in the structure of the society.

The Marxist approach, however, is criticized as it over emphasizes the role of material forces and conflict. It has over simplified the class structure of the capitalist society, ignoring the importance of new occupations, professions and the middle class.

Gandhian Approach

This approach gave an overall changed view point towards the understanding of social problems. His opinions on social problems are constrained in his ideas of sarvodaya and swaraj. His views are formed on the values of truth and non violence. He viewed the society as an integrated society. He was against Marxist approach, according to him, the welfare of classes may clash, but conflict cannot arise on the primacy of unity of members.

Therefore, the unity of the whole society predominates the explanation. Cooperation is more focused rather than conflict. Different classes form a community to work together and cooperate to achieve the well-being of the society.

Gandhi had forbidden the opinion of reorganizing society economically, the socially, politically and culturally would end the issue. Economic reorganization cannot ensure solution to various social problems. A radical change brought about in economic, social, political and cultural spheres of the community doesn’t solve the problem.

This approach also opposes theory of violent revolution and forced change. The revolution is a gradual process and should be brought about by awakening them asses. Therefore, person has to work equally on all aspects like social, economic, cultural and political to overcome social problems.

Gandhian approach critiques the existing order and propounds basic elements of a new society and gives methodology for solving social problems. Critics say that this approach is less original and is based on the old thoughts and Indian thinking.

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