We explain what a problem is, its types, and the characteristics of social, economic, environmental and research problems.

Problems are facts, circumstances, or propositions that require solution.

What is a problem?

We all know, in one way or another, what it's like to have a problem, although it may be difficult to define it in the abstract. If we go to the dictionary, we will see that it defines a problem as “question to be clarified”, “proposition or difficulty of doubtful solution” or “set of facts or circumstances that make it difficult to achieve some goal”. Three different definitions but that serve to draw some important coordinates.

In the first place, problems are facts and circumstances, or propositions or themes that have to do with them; and secondly, that they require a clarification or solution, in order to achieve an ultimate goal. In other words, in abstract terms, a problem is a question in need of an answer.

All Sciences Y disciplines they study the world from the approach of problems, that is, of questions that require the elaboration of an answer, despite the fact that they are very different areas of knowledge. Thus, there are logically problems of all kinds: scientific, methodological, philosophical, mathematical, and an immense etcetera.

Types of problems

Beyond their classification by subject, when it comes to thinking about problems in the abstract, there is a possible difference between:

  • Convergent problems. Also called logical or structured, they are problems that have a single, defined and concrete solution, despite the fact that it can be obtained through very different procedures. Its name is due to the fact that these procedures, in the end, converge in the same answer, which would be the ideal or ideal solution. These types of problems are typical of exact Sciences, the math, chess, astronomy, etc.
  • Divergent problems. If in the previous case all methods converged towards the same solution, in this case the opposite occurs: the methods diverge and yield different solutions, often contradictory to each other, since in these cases the logic linear does not work. Generally, these are problems whose solution requires an external element, something that is not contemplated at first and that can be of a very different nature, that is, more or less creative solutions.

On the other hand, we can also differentiate between:

  • Deductive problems. When they are logically derived from a set of previous premises. That is, when they have a clear and logical deductible origin.
  • Inductive problems. When the logic that originates them tends rather to the probabilistic, to the uncertain, without having a unique cause or recognizable logic.

Social problems

Social problems are the consequence of factors that cannot be controlled by the individual.

The Social problems are those that concern the members of a society determined, often as a consequence of factors far beyond the control of an individual or a small group of them.

These are problems that impact the individual and economic life of the citizens, and that are usually tried to remedy through political mechanisms. Examples of social problems are: Social inequality, the discrimination, the public health, the migration massive or social immobility.

Economic problems

Economic problems are those that are related to the world of production, finance and the consumption, that is, with the economy. They generally have to do with the distribution of wealth and consumption opportunities, within the framework of the great central problem of the economy, which is summarized in that "resources are finite, and needs are infinite."

Consequently, rational planning is required to try to get the most out of the available resources, knowing that they are never totally enough anywhere.

Economic problems tend to trigger other types of problems, such as social or political, and are central to the stability of systems of finance. government. Examples of economic problems are: unemployment, currency devaluation, inflation, economic depression or falling consumption.

Environmental problems

Environmental problems can endanger living things.

The environmental problems are those that pose some level of damage to the environment, that is, greater or lesser degree of alteration of the physical, chemical and biological conditions of the nature.

Unfortunately, these kinds of problems seem to be intrinsic to the industrial activity of the human being, and in some cases they can be extremely serious, resulting in permanent damage to the ecosystem or in large-scale changes that threaten, paradoxically, on the lives of all living beings, even from the humanity that causes them.

Environmental problems can be reversible or irreversible, depending on the time it takes for nature to regain balance and repair the damage caused. They involve the different forms of pollution from air, Water Y I usually, as well as the destruction of the natural environment for economic or industrial purposes.

Examples of environmental problems are: deforestation, the indiscriminate hunting of species at risk of extinction, the destruction of ecosystems and the impoverishment of biodiversity worldwide, the atmospheric pollution and the global warming, or the acidification of the waters of the sea.

Research problems

When preparing a research, both in the exact sciences and in the humanities or social Sciences, the first step lies in defining the problem to be addressed, that is, finding the question to which answers will be sought (that is, solutions). Only by choosing the problem well (although this may sound strange) can then choose the path that leads to the desired solutions.

In methodological language, this stage is called “Problem Statement”, And is usually associated with the question what thing? or What matter?, in the sense that researchers must be able to explain what they are interested in, and be able to delimit the topic. In other words: you must choose which question to try to find the solution to.

Research problems can be as diverse as the interests of researchers. Each investigation will address and cover them within the framework of the parameters that they themselves establish: to what extent will this or that phenomenon be studied? Under what specific conditions? What kinds of solutions will the research point to?

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