What are Some Social Problems?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Social problems, also called social issues, affect every society, great and small. Even in relatively isolated, sparsely populated areas, a group will encounter social problems. Part of this is due to the fact that any members of a society living close enough together will have conflicts. It’s virtually impossible to avoid them, and even people who live together in the same house don’t always get along seamlessly. On the whole though, when social problems are mentioned they tend to refer to the problems that affect people living together in a society.

Poverty and homelessness is a type of social problem.
Poverty and homelessness is a type of social problem.

The list of social problems is huge and not identical from area to area. In the US, some predominant social issues include the growing divide between rich and poor, domestic violence, unemployment, pollution, urban decay, racism and sexism, and many others. Sometimes social issues arise when people hold very different opinions about how to handle certain situations like unplanned pregnancy. While some people might view abortion as the solution to this problem, other members of the society remain strongly opposed to its use. In itself, strong disagreements on how to solve problems create divides in social groups.

Social problems are those issues that affect every society, great and small.
Social problems are those issues that affect every society, great and small.

Other issues that may be considered social problems aren't that common in the US and other industrialized countries, but they are huge problems in developing ones. The issues of massive poverty, food shortages, lack of basic hygiene, spread of incurable diseases, ethnic cleansing, and lack of education inhibits the development of society. Moreover, these problems are related to each other and it can seem hard to address one without addressing all of them.

Domestic violence is a social problem.
Domestic violence is a social problem.

It would be easy to assume that a social problem only affects the people whom it directly touches, but this is not the case. Easy spread of disease for instance may tamper with the society at large, and it’s easy to see how this has operated in certain areas of Africa. The spread of AIDs for instance has created more social problems because it is costly, it is a danger to all members of society, and it leaves many children without parents. HIV/AIDs isn’t a single problem but a complex cause of numerous ones. Similarly, unemployment in America doesn’t just affect those unemployed but affects the whole economy.

Unemployment is a social problem.
Unemployment is a social problem.

It’s also important to understand that social problems within a society affect its interaction with other societies, which may lead to global problems or issues. How another nation deals with the problems of a developing nation may affect its relationship with that nation and the rest of the world for years to come. Though the United States was a strong supporter of the need to develop a Jewish State in Israel, its support has come at a cost of its relationship with many Arabic nations.

Additionally, countries that allow multiple political parties and free expression of speech have yet another issue when it comes to tackling some of the problems that plague its society. This is diversity of solutions, which may mean that the country cannot commit to a single way to solve an issue, because there are too many ideas operating on how to solve it. Any proposed solution to something that affects society is likely to make some people unhappy, and this discontent can promote discord. On the other hand, in countries where the government operates independently of the people and where free speech or exchange of ideas is discouraged, there may not be enough ideas to solve issues, and governments may persist in trying to solve them in wrongheaded or ineffective ways.

The very nature of social problems suggests that society itself is a problem. No country has perfected a society where all are happy and where no problems exist. Perhaps the individual nature of humans prevents this, and as many people state, perfection many not be an achievable goal.

Social problems may be tied to specific groups, such as single parents.
Social problems may be tied to specific groups, such as single parents.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


We need to get rid of the corrupt politicians who are knowingly destroying us from within. NAFTA and free trade are crap. American jobs are leaving our shores and the flow of cheap goods (I mean cheap-junk) is flooding in.

We need to revitalize manufacturing and get big government the hell out of our lives! Get back to making things! We all can't be computer scientists or want to be drug pushing doctors who kill more people than bullets in the USA either!


The biggest one, I think, is the prison population and our legal system. The United States has less than five percent of the world's population, but it has almost a quarter of the world's prisoners, according to the New York Times.

The main problem is the punishment doesn't fit the crime. They are called correction facilities because they are meant to rehabilitate the person so they can be released back into society. The only one that is specialized is drug court. Grouping everyone together and putting them in a hostile and violent environment doesn't help. The whole ticketing system is directed at the poor. Here in Oklahoma, if you don't have insurance on your vehicle, it will be impounded, your license is suspended and it is a $400 fine plus $350 to reinstate your license. I know that insurance is important but, they should place you on driving probation (check in with an office) and lessen the fine.

The other one is how people are so caught up in their morality. The same way you can demonize a person or subject. You can also holify (not a word) something by putting so high on a pedestal that nothing can touch it. This goes with people's morals and politics and, it is causing complete gridlock in congress. Everything is situational; killing, for instance, is allowed to protect yourself or your family.

The main thing to remember is that we are all the same. Anyone can be made to experience the same thoughts and emotions under the right circumstances so, don't look down on others because you have been fortunate enough not to have been in their shoes.


It's a variable I believe, and with the existence of social trauma, one can understand the desire of others to contribute to the society around them; a context might be "ever changing society" or similar, such as the case may be.

One must be definitely creative to exist within a realm where society and socialism exist within the context of being creative. The latter has no extreme foundation and believes nothing and as far as creativity goes lacks the quality of creationism "beliefs". Whereas it's the former is a society charged with the despotic creation of a lost world.


I strongly believe that social problems are big problems. Social problems have to do with things that stop the economy from moving, like prostitution, etc.


Inequalities creates social problems!


Social problems are defined by groups. Social problems develop from human social phenomena, which can be described as the rules and norms we develop to outline our actions around others. Social problems develop out of a necessity to maintain these "norms."

For example, let's examine alcoholism. 200 years ago. Alcoholics certainly existed, but alcoholism would not have been considered a social problem. It wasn't until the industrialization era that alcoholism became an issue when men would spend their daily pay at the bars and bring little to nothing home to their families. That's why prohibition was dominated by women.

In conclusion, a social problem isn't a problem until we make it one.


Social problem means the problem are faced by a majority of human beings such as jobs, security, medical care, transportation and education.


I think that the main social problem is people being lazy.


People make mistakes when they think they can judge others' thoughts. They should be very careful when making such posts about the commentaries others have posted here. This kind of behavior is a clear case of a lack of respect about others feelings and ideas.

They say that it is not about individuals, but society and how it was made or the way it arose. Don't get confused; society is a clear reflection of its individuals, and when they lack critical thinking, they may talk about how others' posts are stupid, etc. It is too personal to say that others aren't critical thinkers.

The real thing is that if we as individuals are not willing to change where we are, our society will not change even if we truly want it to change.

Any the problem could be the single individual is able to change even for himself. And as a group we may turn things for the better.

I do have so many other things to say But I do not want to write an article. This was just my humble opinion.


Lots of stupid, shallow comments here. They reflect the lack of critical thinking ability and the short-sightedness of people, especially Westerners. (One might even define *this* as a social problem in itself!)

By their very definition social problems are social; they are not about "good or evil" or selfishness on an individual level. They are about the way societies are structured and the fallout from those structures. Who wins and who loses? What is actually a problem? If you are wealthy, you are unlikely to view wealth inequality as a problem, however for the vast majority of us who are not wealthy, it is generally viewed as problem.

This is not about individuals, but about how society has been built and how that structure has led to such inequalities and potential harm to a significant segment of society.

Read the article before commenting. There is a difference between informed and uninformed opinions.


In my opinion, social problems arise when people become selfish, arrogant, lazy and greedy. So people need to compete and fight in order to survive.


One of the social problems is poverty. What shall we do in order to solve that?


social problems are caused by society itself. people do bad and good to each other. it's a war between good and evil. why do we have criminals or cruel people? if you are poor or rich, you can do bad things or good things, but the point is humans always do it to another human, not to a rock or non living thing.


i think social problems are as a result of the personal problems we find ourselves in.


The major social problem i see is the issue whereby the rich discriminate against the poor, yet could not exist in isolation. And the mere issue poses a lot of threats to the society. Solution: why we consider that "vanity is vanity - everything is vanity. Let's regard everybody as a human being and treat them accordingly. Declan O., Nigeria.


Social problems vary from country to country or region to region. Causes of multiple social problems have common causes and knowing the causes can minimize the effects of the problems. For instance, pick-pocketing on streets and prostitution are caused by the need to fend for oneself on a daily basis.


All social problems are not of human factors. it affects many families throughout the world.


I think social problems should be viewed based on the country/society one resides. like mine, the basic social problem is unemployment. oshinowo k. -- Nigeria


i think that the society's biggest problem is jobs. The rich family and poor class family are not facing any problems. Only the middle class families are facing a lot of problems.


Social problems are a combination of all human factors. It is very elastic in definition. It encompasses economic, cultural, ethnic and human life.

Simeon C. -- CACORP - Nigeria.


I think that the biggest social problem is one born out of an economic problem -- severe economic disparity among people. I think this creates severe social problems.

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