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What can be learned when we “pull back the curtain” on a so-called social problem by comparing and contrasting cases, tracing cycles of concern about the problem, and looking at how the problem diffuses from place to place? In other words, what can we learn by putting isolated examples of a social condition that some people define as a social problem into context?For your last response paper I’d like you to think sociologically about the construction of social problems by reading and writing about a very current and divisive issue: The use of deadly force by police and security guards against Black males.While individual cases of this phenomenon — like the killings of Trayvon Martin in Florida, Michael Brown in Ferguson, and Eric Garner in New York City — have recently generated headlines, Tweets, editorials, blogging, and protests our job as sociologists is to put these cases into context so we can begin to see that they are not simply “isolated incidents” but examples of a common “social condition.” Of course, what makes this topic especially relevant for our Social Problems class is that there is disagreement over the claim that these killings reflect a broader social problem! Clearly, there is public disagreement along racial and partisan lines about whether there is a social problem behind these killings or perhaps more accurately what kind of social problem it is! (See: for a look at recent opinion polling)Before you write this response paper you will need to read Steve Martinot’s article “On the Epidemic of Police Killings” (written before the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson) and Nathan Palmer’s blog post on “Bringing Ferguson into Context.” 1. these readings provide a sociological perspective that focuses on pulling back the curtain to reveal how individual cases add up to a reveal a social condition once you put them into context.Think of it like a jigsaw puzzle: Looking at each puzzle piece separately doesn’t tell you much, but once you begin to put the pieces together a picture emerges that wasn’t visible no matter how hard you looked at each piece by itself.Response Paper PromptSo, putting these separate killings and their aftermaths into context please answer the following in your response paper:(1) Describe in your own words “the common structure of these killings” (“On the Epidemic of Police Killings” p.54).(2) Explain whether or not putting these killings into social, cultural, and historical context reveals a harmful social condition (a social problem).If you do think these killings are instances of a larger social problem be sure to explain what you think that problem is.If you don’t think these killings are instances of a larger social problem be sure to explain why you think so.

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