Defining Social Problem in the Context of Imperialism: A Theoretical Reflection from Africa

Armstrong C. Matogwa


What constitute a social problem has always been a matter of discussion. There are those who stick to the “appearance” of social problems, and those who strive to uncover the “essence”. This article discusses these facets of the debate and locates the arguments within the wider context of European imperialism. By using Materialism theoretical framework, this article has discussed the roots of the term social problem and its evolution in terms of meaning and scope. Besides, it has established that, in Africa, the term social problem must be analyzed inseparably from imperialism by looking into the dialectical relationship between center and periphery. The article then concludes that, the definition of a social problem should not rest on idealistic notions and quantitative aspects; rather should focus on the prevailing social relations of production exist in Africa. Keywords: social problem, imperialism, poverty

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