Tag Archives: Herbert Blumer

the emergence of the social construction perspective on problematic conditions…

“Following Blumer, Spector and Kitsuse initiated a more systematic approach for examining interpretations of social reality with the provocative claim, ”there is no adequate definition of social problems within sociology, and there is not and never has been a sociology of social problems” (1977:??). Their treatise expounded on the pithier, but limited, notion that problematic conditions arise in society when “a significant number of people or a number of significant people” see them as such (Julian 1973:9). Kitsuse and Spector aimed to explain this phenomenon by focusing on both the social process and people’s actions in their everyday lives (Kitsuse and Spector 1973; Spector and Kitsuse 1973). They proposed that “social problems be conceived and defined as an activity by which groups identify ‘problems’ which they claim to be harmful, undesirable, unjust and in need of corrective attention. By this definition, every condition claimed to be a problem by whatever group on whatever grounds qualifies as subject matter for the study of social problems. In this view of meaning construction, a social problem is not seen as an ‘objective condition but rather as the process of interaction between claimants that is organized by what they claim to be ‘a problem’” (Spector and Kitsuse 1977).”

The Society for the Study of Social Problems

The Society for the Study of Social Problems (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


on the contemporary, proximal theoretical origins and connections between social construction sociological perspective…

“Especially in recent decades, interest among sociologists has grown about how, when, and why people see some conditions as problems and not others (REF… Turner, Alexander, Collins theory cite?). Calls for a subjectivist view toward social problems by Blumer precipitated its contemporary emergence. He argued “social problems have their being in a process of collective definition. This process determines whether social problems will arise, whether they become legitimated, how they are shaped in discussion, how they come to be addressed in official policy, and how they are reconstituted in putting planned action into effect” (Blumer 1971). As a symbolic interactionist, Blumer opposed previous conceptions of social problems as “objective conditions and social arrangements” merely awaiting discovery by sociologists and other social scientists. His declaration was soon followed by several articles and a book manuscript that “exercised a profound and productive influence on contemporary social constructionism and social problems theory” (Weinberg 2009#1).”

Mobilizing Ideas

Activists and Scholars Debate Social Movements and Social Change