What Are Examples of Social Issues?

Garry Knight/CC-BY 2.0

Racism, violence in schools, drug abuse, unemployment, hunger and unfair labor conditions are examples of social issues in the United States. Typically, social issues result from factors beyond an individual’s control and disproportionately affect people who share characteristics such as race, religion, economic status or geographic location.

For a personal condition to be considered a social issue, a segment of the population agrees the condition presents problems and should be rectified. Conditions considered to be social issues may vary depending on local culture and customs, and popular opinion on how specific social issues should be handled changes over time. For instance, in 2014, a majority of Americans favor a ban on smoking in public, but most oppose a total ban on smoking.

The elderly, the poor, minorities, women and people from geographic areas that are underrepresented in government are most affected by many social issues, which often arise because of inequality in educational and economic opportunities.

Social issues vary among countries. Maintaining a clean water supply and proper sanitation are major concerns in India in 2014. In China, inequities between urban and rural residents, poor infrastructure and censorship of the media are primary social issues. In the United States, same-sex marriage and abortion are often debated as social issues in 2014.