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Social Problems Project Overview: Introduce, Describe, and State Why it Matters

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One thing you did for yourself during the break?

Social Problems Project

1. PowerPoint or other presentation format


  • Overview
  • History
  • Meaning
  • Context
  • Power
  • Possibility
  • Conclusion

Overview Section


1. Introduce project and purpose.

2. Describe your social problem.

3. State why your social problem is a problem and why it matters to you.


History Section

  • Describe the history of your problem.
  • Share the history, historical phases, and differing historical accounts.
  • What were the social problem “claims” over time?
  • How did your problem impact people, communities, systems, and policy throughout history?
  • History takeaways: What are 2 things you learned from studying the history of your social problem that help inform how you view the problem today?

Meaning Section

  • How are you making sense of the social problem?
  • What is your understanding of the problem and its significance?
  • “What is the social problem’s relevance, significance or value?”
  • What are the underlying belief systems or assumptions of your social problem.
  • To help understand the meaning of your problem, you will discuss epistemology/ways of knowing, values, philosophies, and multiple meanings.
  • Share your understanding of the problem and what its’ significance is to you, social work, the people, and systems of the United States. In short . . . why does this problem matter and what does it mean?

Context Section


  • What is the current “context” of your social problem as it relates to current societal values, solutions, policy, systems/environments, and the digital world we live in?
  • Systems and Physical Environment
  • What systems are part of the context for your social problem? Share the system, how it provides context to your problem. (i.e., Child welfare, education, medical, health care, corrections, etc.
  • Share descriptions of the current environmental context for your social problem (i.e., global warming, rural, urban, lack of health care, overpopulation, COVID threat, etc.)
  • Social Political Context
  • What social and political contexts are part of your current social problem context? (i.e., BLM, anti CRT movement, COVID quarantine, etc.)
  • Digital World Context
  • What part does technology play in your social problem (i.e., communication, moral panic, knowledge dissemination, connection, etc.)?
  • How does the social problem’s online presence impact its meaning, definition, popularity, effectiveness, solutions and more?
  • Provide concrete examples of digital context (i.e., Twitter, Instagram, Lots of News, images, celebrity spokespeople, etc.

Power Section

  • What does your social problem have to do with the power of those impacted?
  • Discuss the status of individuals and communities most impacted by your social problem?
  • Does their power matter in what is being done about the problem?
  • How does identity of the people impacted or the “change agents” (i.e., social workers, policy makers, etc.) change the “context” of the problem in turn providing more power to control the narrative, perceived significance, meaning of the problem, etc. (i.e., crack vs powder cocaine vs opioid epidemic)?
  • Who is controlling the narrative of your problem?
  • Discuss the status and power that the folks controlling the narrative have. Whose voices are most reflected in this narrative?
  • What role does meaning and context play in who controls the narrative of your problem? Do certain values or philosophies help certain people or narratives remain in control/powerful . . . why? Which values, and philosophies are being used, dominant voices or those of marginalized people, animals, lands?
  • Whose voice and perspective are influencing policy and social solutions to your problem?

Possibility Section

  • Share the future directions of your social problem.
  • What needs to change (i.e., values, philosophies, context, power, meaning) to make the future directions possible?
  • What have we learned from history that grounds our future possibilities?
  • Provide an example of brand-new technologies, emerging policies, innovative research, or new movements that are addressing your issue. Include at least one visual aid and example illustrating a possibility for your social problem.

Conclusion Section

  • Restate your social problem, what it means to you, why applying a Just Practice Framework is helpful, and your takeaways from this assignment.
  • How did you practice being open-minded, responsible, and wholehearted in your examination of your social problem (Dewey, 1910).

What questions or thoughts are present?


Meaning & Context Discussion


What is meaning? How do we create it?



  • Meaning is often defined as our understanding of something and its significance.
  • Humans are cultural beings, and as such we are meaning makers.
  • Our social locations and experiences in the world shape how we make sense of the world.
  • In social work practice it is essential that we attempt to understand how others make sense of their world and the commonalities, tension, and contradictions this creates as we compare their meanings with our own.
  • Just practice means grappling with the ways in which we individually and collectively make sense of our worlds.
  • Meanings can both constrain us and create a new possibilities for thought and action.
  • Are there underlying belief systems that shape how you seek to make sense of your experiences in the world?

Why does context matter?



  • Context may be thought of as the circumstances and conditions that surround and influence particular events and situations.
  • Context shapes meaning and helps us make sense of people, events, and circumstances.
  • Context also requires attention to Place and the significance of people's sociocultural, economic, and physical environments.
  • In what contexts do you feel a sense of belonging?
  • Where do you feel unwelcome or excluded?
  • How might service users experience the context of their service agency or providers?

In reflecting on context and meaning, does the government care about its people?

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