In order to do understand and develop a sociological imagination, we must be able to see a social problem from many perspectives. This is the goal of our first discussion. For example, experts are warning us about the dangers of obesity, a problem for both individuals and society. While some may suggest obesity is simply the result of individual choices, how did so many people suddenly begin to make such bad choices? Rather than the result of individual choices, perhaps obesity is the result of dietary options available to our society. This might explain variations in obesity rates from one geographic region to another. Wealth distribution, health care, and even the availability of food may also explain differing rates of obesity. In short, to those who have developed the sociological imagination, a variety of factors are clearly behind this epidemic of obesity.
After reading the assigned chapters in the textbook and visiting the website, Overweight and obesity, discuss each of the following points:
- Using the definition provided by the text, define how obesity could be categorized as a social problem.
- What are examples of individual and societal factors leading to obesity?
- What are the individual and social consequences of doing nothing to address this problem?
- Theoretical perspectives
- How would a conflict theorist explain the problem of obesity?
- How would a functionalist explain the problem of obesity?
- How would a symbolic interactionist explain the problem of obesity?
- Based on your research, and personal reflection on which theoretical perspective is most like your own views, which theory does the best job at explaining the causes of obesity? Based on this analysis, explain why or why not the issue of obesity should be addressed as a social problem.