THE ROLE OF SOCIOLOGICAL MODELS IN SOLVING SOCIAL PROBLEMS IN NIGERIA
Introduction Social problem is a condition or a type of behavior that many people believe is harmful. Some conditions clearly hurt people, such as lacking enough money to buy basic food, shelter, and clothing; being unable to find a job; or suffering from the effects of a polluted environment. However, the extent to which any of these or other conditions or behaviors becomes social problems is based not only on the reality of their existence but on the level of public concern. Social problem has two important components: its objective element and its subjective element. In this case the objective element is the reality of the conditions of poverty: the reality of insufficient access to food, health services, and education; and high rates of infant mortality, preventable diseases, and illiteracy. The subjective element of poverty is the level of public concern about these objective conditions, the desire to alleviate them, and the belief that this is possible. Burgoon (2006) argues that social welfare policies have been neglected, and that good social welfare policies consistently correlate with fewer incidences of terrorism. This argument corresponds with the absence of social welfare in Nigeria which has created a multitude of social problems which in turn has been tangent with the increase in terrorist activities. The political elites in Nigeria, since independence, have not managed this social problem well. They have manipulated the masses using religious and tribal sentiments to win elections, which has caused nepotism and a big divide in the social fabric of the nation. The political class has been insensitive and has pursued quick personal gains to the detriment of the larger society. This conduct undermines public trust, confidence and the authority of the government, which are essential for nation building (Weinberg, 2009). There are several epistemological discourses as to what constitutes as Social problems, for example structural functionist theorise that social problems occur independently of the perceptions of members of the society, while constructionist argue that social problems cannot be independent of the perceptions and activities of members of the society who are affected by these problems Weinberg (2009). This study attempts to explore the role of sociological models in solving social problems in Nigeria.
Concept of Social Problems
Various definitions of social problem abound in text books of sociology, social problems and social administration. A few of them may suffice for the scope of this paper. To the understanding of Kornblum and Julian, when most people in the society agree that a condition exists that threatens their life and their most cherished values and also agree that something should be done to remedy that condition, sociologies say that the society has defined that condition as a social problem (Kornblum and Julian,1995:3). According to Horton, Leslie and Larsons, a social problem is a condition affecting a significant number of people in a society in ways considered undesirable and about which it is felt something should be done through collective or social action (Horton, Leslie and Larsons, 1991:2). Lauer clarified social problem by distinguishing between a personal problem and a social problem. A personal problem is one whose causes and solutions lie within the individual and the individual’s immediate environment; while a social problem is one whose causes and solution lie outside the individual and the immediate environment (Lauer, 2002:4).
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