oa Crime Research in South Africa - Journal for crime research in South Africa (CRISA) : preface



We live at a time where social problems confront us everywhere. Most sociologists consider a social problem to be an alleged situation that is incompatible with the values of a significant number of people who agree that action or remedy is needed to alter the situation (Lauer 1992; Horton et al 1994; Mooney et al 2000). Jamrozik and Nocella (1998:1) capture the essence of social problem when they point out that, "the term 'social problem' applies to social conditions, processes, societal arrangements or attitudes that are commonly perceived to be undesirable, negative, and threatening certain values or interests such as social cohesion, maintenance of law and order, moral standards, stability of social institutions, economic prosperity or individual freedoms". A social problem comprises the following aspects: a social problem becomes a social problem only when it is publicly perceived as one; a social problem involves a gap between social ideals and social realities; a social problem must be perceived as a problem by a significant number of the population; and, for a social problem to be regarded as such, a social condition must be considered capable of solution, as Horton et al (1994:2) put it, "through collective social action".


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