Social problems are not universally recognized by everyone, and there is not one unanimous way of accurately defining them within our society; however, people generally view them in either an objectivist or subjectivist point of view. To elaborate, the objective definition of a social problem is simply seen as things deemed to be harmful to society, but this basic definition soon becomes problematic once compared to examples of modern social issues. For instance, like misogyny and its ties to sexism, which has been historically and repeatedly been a point of focus for anyone who analyzes social hierarchies, not all “harmful” issues are identified as social problems. Although prejudice against women is evidently excessively discriminatory, females are still constantly discriminated against as many patriarchal societies find ways to justify their reasoning and sweep their issues further under the rug, whether that is tradition, religion, or merely irrational fear, rather than prioritizing them as problems that need to be addressed like the wage gap between the sexes. It is crucial to recognize that, “Today, on average, a woman earns 79 cents for every dollar a man earns, and women’s median annual earnings are $10,800 less than men’s,” according to a report released by the Senate Joint Economic Committee Democratic Staff in April of 2016.1 Moreover, the objective definition fails to account for the fact that one particular issue may be seen as a social problem but for very contrasting reasons, and the ambiguous definition does not specify what actually constitutes as harmful to society, so individual issues are put in the same list as larger societal issues, which realistically does not make proper sense. Social issues defined by the objectivist definition do not generally see the same amount of attention as defined using a subjectivist definition. In contrast, the subjectivist point of view accommodates for the weakness of the objectivist perspective by defining a social problem as issues that people have subjective reactions to, respond to by calling for change, and bases claims on social construction.2
Claimsmaking links all social problems and is the process by which they are constructed and starts when interest is initially drawn to a particular issue by an individual or group who deems that the issue is not only troubling, but worth being addressed by a larger population. The rhetoric, or persuasiveness, of claims are judged by their fundamental components—the grounds which provide clarifying information and evidence about the condition, the warrants which further provide justifications for a call to action, and the conclusions which can be drawn from them and used to recommend changes in policy. While the grounds appeal to logos, the warrants typically appeal to pathos and emotions of the audience, and the conclusion appeals to logos as a logical solution to the problem is being sought.
To effectively write an op-ed in the Daily Trojan attempting to convince fellow current students that the yearly tuition of nearly $70,000 as a social issue, I would focus on the grounds and warrants of my argument to ensure that it works well in the social problems marketplace. To start, I would name this issue “Tuition Restriction” and then typify the example by speaking about how the cost of college plays a pivotal role in the college process of millions of students who are unable to attend their dream school due to how expensive college in the United States. I will further use statistics such as how tuition for the nation’s top 50 private universities has increased by an average of 3.6% – over 4% in some instances – a rate nearly double the country’s inflation rate to show this is an issue that affects everyone – students and families alike – as the problem is universal and only getting worse.3 The warrants to my claim that college should be cheaper are rested upon the ideas that education should not be a tool for capitalism and that the nation needs to provide easier access to higher education if they want to create future generation of well-rounded, productive, and involved citizens.
2 Owens. What are Social Problems?. SOCI 150. Lecture 1/10/18