Social Sciences and Social Problems
Opening any newspaper or news site confronts the reader with a range of social problems. These are conditions which are believed to damage or disrupt human societies at various levels from the local to the global. Some of them look more evident in terms of their consequences, like drug abuse; others do not, like tensions between states. Some of them tend to be more visible like homelessness; others are less so, like racism. Some of them are put in the limelight by current events, like limited household savings in the course of an epidemic; others are discussed recurrently over the years, like unequal opportunities in education. Some of them have a relatively efficient political representation through NGOs or political parties, like the deficiencies of health care financing; others do not, like living with certain disabilities. Social problems come in many shapes and sizes – and in apparently endless quantities. In order to have a grasp on them, one needs a toolbox of concepts, theories, and methods. The social sciences provide such a toolbox. The online open course Social Sciences and Social Problems, taught by the Faculty of Social Sciences at Eötvös Loránd University, introduces anyone interested into how the social sciences tackle social problems. Not requiring any previous knowledge of the field, the course offers a wide angle survey of six areas in six modules: 1. the sociology of schooling; 2. the economics of resource allocation; 3. exclusion and social work; 4. the cultural anthropology of collective identity; 5. the study of international relations and foreign policy; and 6. the sociology of social movements.