Food and Nutrition as Social Problems

  • Wm. Alex McIntosh
Part of the Environment, Development, and Public Policy book series (EDPP)


Social problems are “troubles” that befall individuals or groups and are said to be caused by social conditions. Furthermore, social problems are generally troubles identified by groups or institutions as such; thus they have a subjective dimension (Best, 1989). Troubles often become identified as social problems after a great deal of effort to persuade others that a problem exists. Definers of social problems include social activists, scientists, and moralists. While these statements regarding social problems might be acceptable to most sociologists, students of social problems have recently revived the debate over whether the objective or the social part of social problems should take priority in their studies. Objectivists and positivists tend to take seriously the objective nature of a problem and search for causes in the manner of a social epidemiologist. Social constructionists, by contrast, argue that the objective nature of the problem is beyond the scope of sociology. The sociological aspects of social problems concern the identification of groups that successfully define a situation as a social problem worthy of attention and the rhetorical tools these groups use to persuade others of the problem’s existence and importance.


Social Problem Eating Disorder Social Constructionist Normative Approach Green Revolution 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wm. Alex McIntosh
    • 1
  1. 1.Texas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

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