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A Tool To Analysing Social Issues

Updated on September 18, 2015

What is Social analysis?

A social analysis is a tool which helps interpret a situation to obtain a reality picture of what that current situation is. It helps make an interpretation on the basis of which conclusions can be drawn. No effective social intervention can be arrived at without engaging into a social analysis. A social analysis helps gain a broader perspective and a deeper insight of the issue at hand.

This tool understands that the most fundamental element of society is social interaction. Thus, a social analysis can be defined as the effort engaged in order to attain a complete picture of a social situation by exploring its historical and structural relationships.

The use of engaging into a social analysis:

To engage into social planning and social action, one needs to have clarity based on reality of the situation in view. It will help bridge an understanding of its cause effect relationship. It tries to understand problems in context of their historical overview and existing structural relationships. Social analysis does not work towards bringing about social planning and social action, rather it only engages into analysing society and its structures relating to an issue at hand. This information would be crucial in setting up a plan or laying a policy. A social analysis would help in laying a platform by providing assessment knowledge which would be beneficial for the latter course of intervention.

Some of the features of social analysis:

Ø It explores particularly isolated issues such as hunger, poverty, inflation and so on. These social issues could have multi causality linkages but when it comes to analysis the issue is looked at as a whole independently.

Ø Focuses on the policies that address the issue and as to why the issue is still prevalent inspite of the existing policies. An analysis also looks into finding alternatives in the planning so as to address the issue still prevalent. For example food aid programmes.

Ø Social analysis focuses on the systems in terms of their level of functioning and in terms of dimension of functioning. Level of functioning would relate to whether the issue is being viewed in relation to the local level system of functioning such as local bodied governance system or whether national or on the international level. In terms of dimension, it refers to whether the issue is to be viewed in relation to an economic dimension, political dimension, socio-cultural dimension and so on.

Elements of social analysis:

Perceive the historical dimension in context of a situation

Every situational issue at hand will ultimately be an effect to the present, related to a cause somewhere in the past. Hence, only by understanding and analysing the cause of the issue can one bring about a significant and sustained intervention in tackling the present effects of the issue. This stands ground on; to every action there is always an equal if not a greater reaction. When an issue is looked from an historical perspective is binds clarity.

Also, on the basis of our understanding about the past and how the present is being influenced one can also draw an intuitive understanding of the future.

Take into account levels of involvement:

Social issues contributing to various other issues exist at various levels such as local levels, national levels and international levels and so on. For example, working on the issue of corruption at the local level.

An analysis will bring to light that all levels of society’s structural functioning are interconnected and interdependent and working on the issue of corruption only at the local level won’t be too possible as corruption at the local level maybe influenced from the national level and international levels. So when dealing with an issue at large it is good to take into account and create counter systems at each level to avoid penetration and slowly wipe of corruption at each level. Working at one particular level alone wouldn’t wipe off the virus of corruption, it would just suppress it!

Analysing the structural elements of society:

Society is based on the functioning of various social structures and institutions. These structures shape society and enroll man as a social being. Some of the major structural elements of society are-

Socio-economic structures

Socio-cultural structures

Socio-political structures

All these structures co-exist and should not be viewed apart from each other. For example, poverty could be influenced due to ineffective functioning of the socio-economic structure that is due to unequal distribution of per capita and the socio-political structure could impact poverty due to unhealthy implementation of policies and ineffective governance

Is social analysis a pratical tool to intervene social issues?

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A social analysis is based on its ability to be a rational fact finding tool in providing clarity to a given situation at hand. No planned action-oriented goal is effectively and efficiently achievable if the situational social issue is not well conceptualised. Obtaining a clear visual image of an issue helps set realistic plans. Proper implementation of planning will ultimately help achieve desired goals.


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