This is “Preface”, article 3 from the book A Primer on Social Problems (v. 1.0).
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The founders of American sociology a century or more ago in cities like Atlanta and Chicago wanted to reduce social inequality, to improve the lives of people of color, and more generally to find solutions to the most vexing social problems of their times. A former president of the Society for the Study of Social Problems, A. Javier Treviño, has used the term service sociology to characterize their vision of their new discipline. This book is grounded in this vision by offering a sociological understanding of today’s social problems and of possible solutions to these problems.
As this book’s subtitle, Continuity and Change, implies, social problems are persistent, but they have also improved in the past and can be improved in the present and future, provided that our nation has the wisdom and will to address them. It is easy to read a social problems textbook and come away feeling frustrated by the enormity of the many social problems facing us today. This book certainly does not minimize the persistence of social problems, but neither does it overlook the possibilities for change offered by social research and by the activities of everyday citizens working to make a difference. Readers of this book will find many examples of how social problems have been improved and of strategies that hold great potential for solving them today and in the future.
Several pedagogical features help to convey the “continuity and change” theme of this text and the service sociology vision in which it is grounded:
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