Are Social Problems Socially Constructed or Biologically Determined

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Are social problems socially constructed
or biologically determined?
T he debate over whether social problems are socially constructed or biologically determined takes us immediately into the realms of constructivism and positivism. As such, we must begin our essay by offering a definition of the two fundamentally important sociological paradigms. Constructivism implies that social problems are indeed the result of socially constructed phenomena. Viewed from the constructivist perspective, the myriad of social, cultural, economic and political factors that affect the day to day running of contemporary society are subject to a variety of competing pressures, each of which are able to create new social problems where – in a different social, cultural, economic and political context – none would have arisen. T hus, society itself is the trigger for conflict and resolution; society itself is the location of the answers to the questions posited by the complexities of social construction. T hus, “because we are locked into our society, because our journey of knowledge occurs within the journey of our societies, we cannot know things about society with absolute certainty – the ‘truth’s of the social sciences are interpretative.”

T he positivist tradition, on the other hand, takes a different approach. Beginning with the publication of T he Positive Philosophy by F rench intellectual Auguste Comte in 1853, the positivist tradition to sociological theory has historically sought to underline the significance of science to the study of society and its ills. According to Comte, “the social world of human relationships could be treated as though it is similar to the natural world of inanimate objects.” As a result, positivist sociologists have since aimed to show how t is possible to develop a scientific study of society as though the study of society is equivalent to studying ‘social physics.’ T hus, human

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