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What causes social problems?

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Quick Answer

A failure within a society to provide a means to achieve goals can cause social problems, according to About.com. If a system of society is structured in such a way that it favors a specific group of society members, those outside of that group are unable to achieve the goals established by society as the norm.

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Full Answer

If those groups are unable to achieve expected societal goals through socially acceptable means, then they find other means to achieve goals, and this can cause further social unrest. Some groups within a society make a conscious choice not to follow social norms, which can cause further social problems. Using Robert K. Merton's structural strain theory, as explained by About.com, as a guiding theory, groups that choose not to follow established social norms all have different motivations, methods or goals that do not line up with the general society's structured path to achieve socially desired goals. Those who choose to follow unconventional means to achieve socially acceptable goals are usually those that are considered criminals, such as a thief achieving wealth through larceny. Those who are the victims of the theft demand restitution for their loss of wealth and goods obtained through socially acceptable means, while the thief views his ill-gotten wealth as the fruit of his labor, which causes friction. This is only one example of the effect of deviant behavior on social problems.

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