- A social problem is social behaviour that causes public friction or private misery. For example poverty, or divorce, governments are called upon to produce policies to tackle the problems.
- A sociological problem is any pattern of social relationships or behaviour. For example why people are committed to school or work. "normal" behaviour is just as interesting as behaviour that would be seen as a social problem.
- There are many factors that affect whether or not sociological research will succeed in influencing government policy..
- Electoral popularity - findings of the research might mean a policy is produced which would be unpopular with potential voters.
- Ideological and policy preferences - If the values of the sociologist are similar to the political ideology of the governemnt it may stand more of a chance of influencing policy.
- interest groups - pressure groups that seek to influence the government policies in their own interests, these groups may be powerful enough to persuade the governemnt to ignore sociological findings.
- Globalization has mean social policy is increasingly influenced by global interests such as the EU and international Monetary Fund.
- Critical sociology - Sociologists such as marxists who are critical of the capitalist state and large corporations are often ignored by social policy makers.
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