Societal Problems as Public Bads

30 May 19

Societal Problems as Public Bads

New textbook by Nuffield Fellow Nan Dirk de Graaf and Associate Member Dingeman Wiertz addresses several of the most pressing problems facing societies today.

Nuffield Fellow Nan Dirk de Graaf and Associate Member Dingeman Wiertz (DPhil Sociology 2010; Research Fellow 2015-18) have published a new, multidisciplinary social science textbook: Societal Problems as Public Bads.

Corruption, crime, economic inequality, religious fundamentalism, financial crises, environmental degradation, population ageing, gender inequality, large-scale migration… The book addresses several of the most pressing problems facing societies today, using data, real-world examples, and rigorous analyses to connect society-level problems to the individual-level behaviours from which they originate.

Nan Dirk and Dingeman demonstrate that similar social mechanisms lie behind many of these seemingly disparate problems. Indeed, many societal problems can be traced back to behaviours that are perfectly rational and often well-intended from an individual perspective. Yet taken together, these behaviours can – paradoxically – give rise to unintended and undesirable outcomes.

In addition to addressing the causes of societal problems, the book explains why some problems rank higher on the public agenda than others. Moreover, it is shown how, whilst government intervention may sometimes provide a cure, it at other times exacerbates existing problems or creates new problems of its own.

The textbook draws on insights from across the social sciences, including sociology, economics, anthropology, criminology, and psychology.

To find out more about the book, visit the Routledge website.