Project LEGAL's

Public Policy Analyst

Public Policy Steps


What is a social problem?

A social problem is a condition that at least some people in a community view as being undesirable. Everyone would agree about some social problems, such as murders and DWI traffic deaths. Other social problems may be viewed as such by certain groups of people. Teenagers who play loud music in a public park obviously do not view it as a problem, but some other people may consider it an undesirable social condition. Some nonsmokers view smoking as an undesirable social condition that should be banned or restricted in public buildings.

Every newspaper is filled with stories about undesirable social conditions. Examples include crime, violence, drug abuse, and environmental problems. Such social problems can be found at the local, state, national and international levels. You will be focusing in the Public Policy Analyst on social problems in your own community.

Specific community locations

Your own community consists of…

The four examples of social problems above could possibly exist in all of these communities. For example, there could be a problem of increased stealing within your school or throughout the school district. Likewise, local police agencies—village, town, city and county—maintain statistics on crimes such as thefts within their jurisdiction.

When you describe the social problem in step 1, you must specify the geographical setting. Some examples include Lehman High School, the Bronx High School District, the Bronx, New York City, or New York State. As mentioned before, PPA will be used only for local and state social problems.