SOCY 2031 Social Problems

Instructor Contact:

Professor: Andrew Gutierrez (he/his)

Course objectives:

In the contemporary U.S, we are led to believe that the multitude of social problems we experience as Americans are natural.  This course will help us recognize the causes and consequences of Social problems such as economic inequality, social instability, unemployment and poverty, addiction, sexism and racism, as well relating these issues ot prominent sociological perspectives. Using competing sociological theories, we will examine how institutions are related to social problems and how to use our “sociological imagination” to deconstruct them.  We will focus on social problems and examine trends, patterns, and social conditions that link individuals “personal troubles” with societies “public issues”. This perspective will also teach us how to use varying social science methods to measure the consequences of social problems as a system of social control connected to other axes of social identity, including gender, race, and age. We will interrogate our assumptions and explain how social problems are implicated in other social processes in the United States. This course will ask you to think critically, listen to and talk openly about sociological issues pertaining to a multitude of social problems. Being able to listen to and participate in these conversations is critical to success in this course. In this class, we will interrogate issues of (at least) gender, race, class, and age, inequality and power.

By the end of this course you should be able to:

  1. Comprehend what sociologists mean by “Social problems”
    • Through outlining multiple sociological perspectives.
  2. Examine how sociologists create/duplicate their studies of social problems.
    • Done by deconstructing Sociological methods utility and laws.
  3. Explain how a constructionist perspective changes how we define what a social problem is in terms of behaviors and patterns,
    • completed by collecting data and defining constructivism.
  4. Criticize social problems and how they are created.
    • Achieved by attaching social theories to what we know.
  5. Analyze how ideas about age, gender, race, and class effect what we think about people, social problems, and how these ideas move experiences.
    • Through criticizing the source of society’s ideas about a multitude of social problems.
  6. Recognize how social problems/social conditions can be utilized to different ends.
    • Done by explaining how social problems can be used for other seemingly nonrelated purposes.
  7. Relate how social problems are shaped by space and context such as religion and state
    • Completed by matching “public issues” to “personal troubles”.
  8. Acquire the ability make connections between the interrelated nature of varying social problems, social research and our everyday lives
    • Achieved by explaining how what you learn in an academic setting relates to other spheres.

Required text:

Social Problems: Sociology in action by Atkinson et al.


Below is the standard for the level of assessment of written assignments and overall evaluation for course grades.

Letter Percentage Description




Exceptional:  Exceeds all required elements of the assignment, and the quality of the work is considerably greater than what is required.  The quality of the work is considerably above the class average and impressive to the evaluator.






Good:  Meets all required elements of the assignment, and the quality of the work is better than what is required.






Average:  Meets all required elements of an assignment, no more, no less.  Quality of assignment is satisfactory for college level work.






Below average: Does not meet all the required elements of the assignment, and/or the quality of the assignment is considerably lower than satisfactory.
        F 59 and below Failing:  Almost none of the requirements of the assignment are met and/or the quality of the assignment is well below basic standards of writing, comprehension, and/or ability to follow instructions.


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Monday – Friday
8:00am to 5:00pm


We are located at the corner of University Avenue and 15th Street in a white brick building.


1505 University Avenue
University of Colorado Boulder
178 UCB
Boulder, Colorado