The concept of “social problem” is in a strange position in sociological science: although “social problem” is the name of a standard subject offered to first-year university students, sociologists rarely use this term as a key one in their research framework. This concept is applied to a very large number of different phenomena, such as abortion, crime, poverty, racism, and overpopulation. Any definition that can cover all social conditions and issues, social problems become too amorphous to be of analytical value. Constructionism is developed as a theoretical approach to allow service. Joel Best and his framework of social constructionism help identify the social problem from the perspective of a process, not a condition (Best 5). Since social problems tend to deviate within time, space, and context, it is complicated to unite all the issues together. Human beliefs and disputes shape the borders of the social issues and constantly construct and rebuild their sense. In this essay, the social problem of modern Asian racism will be analyzed according to the framework of Joel Best’s theoretical model.
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The process of forming a social issue, according to Joel Best, goes through several stages. The first step is the identification of the problem or claims-making. The second stage is media coverage that broadcasts the idea and announces it to the population. Public reactions to media news spreading and people’s perception of the social issue are also important for the process of forming a social problem. It is not only meant that media forms the opinion of the issues but also that individuals can reconstruct them, bring in a new idea, and create their meanings (Best 17). Joel Best states that the reaction of humans to some data is a complex process that oftentimes can be hard to predict.
Policymaking is the fourth step according to Best’s theory that embodies the actual process of making a policy by looking at it on a wider scale. For instance, the public’s opinion rarely frames the issue from the perspective of actual efficient law. Policymakers study the social issue and develop strategies to solve it. Their sphere is mostly practical and can bring in the actual changes into the society. The next step, social problems work, is essential for the successful insertion of social issues constructions. Various public systems disseminate these constructions opening the eyes of the public to the social problem. Workers in this sphere oftentimes meet complications because the everyday routine of implementing the constructions is a long and hard process that is usually not valued by the public. Most of the time, people expect magic drastic changes, a fast and effective result. However, the perception of the social issue by the public does not form within a day.
The last step in Joel Best’s theory is policy outcomes which are the assessment of the policy’s effects on social problem-solving. The evaluation can vary from the public’s feedback to the critics’ statements. In other words, everything in the system is being reconstructed, revalued, and constantly changed. That is why it is essential to look at every social problem as a process that tends to deviate from recent perceptions of it. Moreover, Joel Best’s theory is important for individuals to comprehend and unite the knowledge about social problem’s solutions. Viewing it as a process can help predict the impatience and dissatisfaction coming from the public. It is obvious how complicated is the policymaking that has to balance the requirements from many sides: social, institutional, and bureaucratic.
Asian racism is an inevitable part of modern society, both in the United States and in European countries. It was estimated that around 22 million Asian Americans live in the U.S. originating from Eastern and Southeastern Asia (Budiman and Ruiz 1). Various research claims that starting from early 2020 the references to Asian Americans in media express cruelty, racism, discrimination, and lack of Asian representation (Shah et al. 26). Due to the current epidemiological situation, some parts of hatred towards Asians interrelate with COVID-19 pandemics. Some community leaders state that bigotry toward Asians was reinforced by President Donald J. Trump who sometimes used expressions as “Chinese virus” meaning coronavirus (New York Times 8). Thus, the objective condition of choosing this social issue is its actuality and increased severity within the last years.
Most claimants are Asian Americans reporting unequal rights and social pressure. In the U.S., activists and social movements also play an essential role not only in naming the social issue but also in constructing its specific meaning and attracting the attention of the public (Voss et al. 791). Raising the topic in media broadcasted significantly within the last year as soon as the pandemic situation was associated with Asians. The lawmakers were spreading an anti-hatred mood via social networks with the hashtag #StopAsianHate (Shah et al. 42). The use of the hashtag increased considerably after the Atlanta spa shootings on March 16, 2021 (The New York Times 3). As it is known, eight people of Asian ethnicity were killed in Atlanta. Among the victims six people were females, and this event raises the topic of increased xenophobia toward Asian Americans and the substantial number of underreported similar crimes.
The rhetoric of claims-making includes several types of grounds such as typifying examples, statistics, names, scope, and cultural resources. For instance, typifying example is the Atlanta case that was vastly spread by media to highlight the social issue and attract more people to it. Statistics are used by researchers and reported in scholarly articles, newspaper articles, and on TV. The Pew Research Center gathers and analyzes various data on social platforms and surveys that allow them to write about increasing numbers of social hatred towards Asians and the possible factors impacting it.
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The use of names is especially seen in the hashtags implementation that sounds as a slogan and unites people, encourages them to participate in the online movement, share the data, and support the discriminated ethnicities. The scope is a method that is vastly used currently due to a raised xenophobia toward Asian Americans. The wave of the moods, the increased discrimination, and pressure on one social group mentioned in media make the issue more significant and serious. Lastly, cultural resources are used to reference racism that has always been one of the central issues in American society. The problem of discrimination refers to every group of citizens and should respond rapidly in the majority’s hearts. Cultural resources are based on the excessive cultural knowledge of society, and their usage enhances the chances of the people’s attraction to the social problem.
The outcomes of these processes at least led to overlooking racist assaults by the authorities. Due to modern tendencies spread by media, Asian people, more precisely Chinese, are not accused of the spread of coronavirus. The reasons for the virus spread are still being investigated and identifying ethnicity as a victim is direct xenophobia and inhumane behavior. The social problem of Asian racism cannot be underestimated as it takes a central position in modern American society. According to the theoretical framework of Joel Best, policymaking and policy outcomes are still in the process of implementation; however, American society has already made essential steps on the way of decreasing Asian racism and hatred.
“8 Dead in Atlanta Spa Shootings, With Fears of Anti-Asian Bias.” The New York Times, Web.
Best, Joel. Social Problems. 4th ed., W.W. Norton Incorporated, 2020.
Budiman, Abby, and Neil G. Ruiz. Key Facts about Asian Americans, a Diverse and Growing Population. Pew Research Center, Web.
Shah, Sono, et al. How U.S. Lawmakers Have Discussed Asian Americans on Social Media. Pew Research Center, Web.
Voss, Kim, et al. “The Limits of Rights: Claims-Making on Behalf of Immigrants.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, vol. 46, no. 4, 2020, pp. 791-819.