The study of social problems and their alleviation is beset by various taboos. This session, led by Michael Jindra, HxA member and cultural anthropologist in the Institute on Culture, Religion & World Affairs at Boston University, explored some of these taboos, such as the refusal to look at individual-level causes in favor of “structural” ones.

Much work on social problems does not do this, instead choosing politically-favored but simplistic causes that lead to weak solutions. Jindra discussed alternative approaches, such as multi-level (structural, cultural, and individual) interactional causes of social problems. The discussion also revolved around the validity of this multilevel model and the many academic disciplines that must be utilized to understand social problems in their entirety.