Social issues trends

Describe the past, present and future of a social issue until your partner guesses what you are talking about. 

Suggested topics

Abortion

Affiliation with political parties/ Interest in politics/ Membership of political parties

Affordable housing

Age of retirement

Agriculture (e.g. as a percentage of GDP or percentage of the workforce)

Alcoholism/ Health problems due to alcohol

Allergies

Approval for a particular policy

Approval of a lifestyle choice/ Disapproval of a lifestyle choice

Awareness of social class

Bankruptcy

Belief in religion

Birth rate

Blue collar jobs

Breakup of marriages (e.g. divorce and separation)

Bullying

Bureaucracy

Car ownership/ Households with two cars

Censorship

Children in care

Community activism

Control of the internet

Corruption (e.g. bribery and nepotism)

Cost of healthcare

Crime (e.g. serious crime, white collar crime, or petty crime like graffiti and other vandalism)

Data protection problems

Day labourers

Deaths from alcohol

Discrimination (e.g. sexism, racism or ageism)

Domestic violence

Donation of blood and organs/ Shortage of blood and organs

Downsizing/ Restructuring

Drinking and driving

Drugs (e.g. hard drugs, soft drugs or prescription drugs such as anti-depressants)

Eating disorders (e.g. anorexia/ bulimia)

Economic inequality/ Income differences between the rich and poor/ The income gap

Educational standards (e.g. positions on international educational rankings)

Effects of inflation/ Effects of deflation

Emigration

Entrepreneurism

Exports

Fast food/ Pre-prepared food

Fear of crime

Female employment rates/ The proportion of women at work/ The proportion of mothers who work/ Women in work  (including women in senior positions and political positions)

Gambling

Giving to charities

Health scares

Homelessness

House sales

Household debt/ Personal debt

Household income/ Income of households

Human trafficking

Immigration

Imports

Industrial decline

Influence of the financial sector

Influence of the technology sector

Interest in traditional arts and crafts

Internet addiction

Job instability/ Job mobility/ Job stability

Lack of health insurance

Leaving the family home later/ Shared households (= multigenerational households, called “parasite singles” in Japan)

Lifestyle diseases

Local tax/ Local spending

Long term unemployment

M&A (= mergers and acquisitions, meaning takeovers)

Mental illness

Meritocracy (e.g. performance-based pay or the end of promotion due to seniority)

Minorities in work (e.g. in senior positions)

Missing children/ Runaway children

Multilingual classrooms

Number of elderly

Obesity

Old people’s homes

Organised crime (e.g. mafia and gangs)Outsourcing

People dropping out of the workforce (e.g. NEETs or people on disability benefits)

Political activism (e.g. protests/ demonstrations, petitions)

Political extremism

Pornography/ The sex industry

Position of the middle class/ Size of the middle class

Poverty (e.g. the Working Poor or people living under the poverty line)

Pre-school education

Pressure on children to succeed

Property prices/ Rents

Recidivism (= Reoffending)/ People released from prison not being able to fit back in to society

Respect for elders/ teachers/ parents/ fathers

School absenteeism

School violence

Self-harm

Sex industry

Sexual harassment (e.g. groping on trains)

Single member households Stress-related illnesses

Smoking/ Health problems due to smoking (including second hand smoke)

Social entrepreneurism

Social isolation

Social liberalism

Social mobility

Social welfare

Studying abroad

Suicide

Support for monarchy

The lifestyle of “Millennials” (adults ages 18 to 32)

The superrich (e.g. Internet billionaires)

The underclass

Trust in public institutions (banking, civil service, health service, teachers, the press and other media, the monarchy, government, political parties, politicians, etc)

Union membership/ Union action (strikes etc)

University entrance

Unmarried mothers/ Single parent families

White collar jobs

Youth violence

————————

Social issues trends

Social science vocabulary/ The language of trends

Try to guess the topics below. The gaps below are all related to the same topic (though the wording might be different).

  1. According to the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the total number of people suffering from ______________ in 1980 stood at just 3,200 people. By 1998 this had leapt to 23,200 and this figure has most certainly increased over the past five years. Many Japanese medical institutions have found themselves unable to effectively treat patients suffering from ______________due to the increase in the number of cases. The first cases of ______________, which can be fatal, were documented in Japan during the late sixties and early seventies. Over the last decade various regional surveys have shown that the number of recorded cases has been steadily rising. Although Japanese rates are not as high as those in Europe and the United States, the new survey indicates that the problem is rapidly growing.Professor Watanabe’s previous research in conjunction with other studies conducted by medical researchers in various regions such as Niigata (published 2000), clearly indicate that the prevalence of ____________ has been on the rise.
  2. In the UK there is a significant delay in marriage compared to previous generations and a subsequent rise in ______________. In the US, a new Pew Research Center analysis of recently released Census data suggests that most Millennials (adults ages 18 to 32) are still not setting out on their own. As of March 2013, only about one-in-three Millennials (34%) headed up their own household.  This rate is unchanged from March 2012 and even lower than the level observed in the depths of the Great Recession. Thus, it is clear that the trend of ______________ than in previous generations is not confined simply to Japan. This seriously questions the validity of the uniqueness claim about the so-called Japanese ______________ notion.
  3. More than two-thirds of British 16- to 64 year old ______________, according to an analysis by the Office of National Statistics, compared with just over half – 53% – in 1971. Most of the progress in boosting ______________ took place from the mid-1970s to the early 1990s, driven by anti-discrimination legislation and the shift in the economy away from male-dominated manufacturing towards services.Since 1991, the increase in______________ has levelled off.The ONS has collected data on ______________ since 1996, when it was 67%. It has since risen to 72%, partly as a result of changes in the benefits regime for single parents.
  4. Since 2000, ______________ in the US has declined, shrinking in size, falling backward in income and wealth, and shedding some—but by no means all—of its characteristic faith in the future.
  5. The (US) Census Bureau’s annual report on income, poverty and health insurance shows that median ______________ in 2012 not only remains below the 2007 pre-recession level, but is barely above its 1995 level. This is the longest period of stagnant median ______________ since the Census Bureau began collecting such data in 1967. There are, however, significant variances across demographic groups. For example, the typical ______________ headed by seniors has significantly increased.
  6. 82% of the British public now think ______________ is too large. Given that nearly seven in ten also believe it is the government’s responsibility to reduce ______________, politicians must recognise this growing discontent and prioritise policies that reduce ______________.
  7. Between 1970/71 and 2007/08 the proportion of three and four-year-olds in ______________  in the UK tripled from 21 per cent to 64 per cent.
  8. The UK was the 12th most expensive country in the EU-27 in which to buy a litre of premium unleaded petrol. Despite this, the proportion of ______________  in Great Britain increased more than fourfold between 1971 and 2007, to 27 per cent.
  9. The UK is still a long way off its 1980s levels of ______________, when 65% said it was “very important” for Britain to continue to have one. However, there has been a fascinating turn-around in opinion – from 27% thinking this in 2006 to 45% expressing strong support in this year’s latest survey.
  10. In the eleven months to November 2008 there were 870,000 ______________  in the UK, a large decrease from the 1.5 million recorded during the same period in 2007.

Underline useful trends language above and put them into the three columns below. Please only include trends, not expressions that just mean “big” or “small”.

Look at the version of the texts with trends language in italics to help with the task above.

Brainstorm other phrases which mean the same thing.

Are there any differences between the expressions which are in the same columns? Can you find any which mean exactly the same?

What grammatical forms are used above to talk about these time periods?

–       present (meaning right now)

–       past and present

–       just the past

–       future

Look at the texts again to check your answers.

Look at a version of the text with grammatical structures in bold to help you with the task above.

Discussion

Which trends above are most interesting/ important/ surprising?

What might the trends be for these things?

–       The same things in different places

–       The same things at different times

–       Other social issues trends

——————————-

Hints

These mixed up answers should go in the gaps above. Put each in the right place.

eating disorders

economic inequality/ income differences between the rich and poor/ the income gap

female employment rates/ proportion of women at work/ the proportion of mothers who work/ women in work/

house sales

household income/ income of households

households with two cars

pre-school education

shared households/ leaving the family home later/ “parasite singles”

support for monarchy

the position of the middle class

Check your answers with the key below.

———————————–

Suggested answers

  1. According to the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the total number of people suffering from eating disorders in 1980 stood at just 3,200 people. By 1998 this had leapt to 23,200 and this figure has most certainly increased over the past five years. Many Japanese medical institutions have found themselves unable to effectively treat patients suffering from eating disorders due to the increase in the number of cases. The first cases of eating disorders, which can be fatal, were documented in Japan during the late sixties and early seventies. Over the last decade various regional surveys have shown that the number of recorded cases has been steadily rising. Although Japanese rates are not as high as those in Europe and the United States, the new survey indicates that the problem is rapidly growing.Professor Watanabe’s previous research in conjunction with other studies conducted by medical researchers in various regions such as Niigata (published 2000), clearly indicate that the prevalence of eating disorders has been on the rise.
  2. In the UK there is a significant delay in marriage compared to previous generations and a subsequent rise in shared households. In the US, a new Pew Research Center analysis of recently released Census data suggests that most Millennials (adults ages 18 to 32) are still not setting out on their own. As of March 2013, only about one-in-three Millennials (34%) headed up their own household.  This rate is unchanged from March 2012 and even lower than the level observed in the depths of the Great Recession. Thus, it is clear that the trend of leaving the family home later than in previous generations is not confined simply to Japan. This seriously questions the validity of the uniqueness claim about the so-called Japanese parasite singles notion.
  3. More than two-thirds of British 16- to 64 year old women are in work, according to an analysis by the Office of National Statistics, compared with just over half – 53% – in 1971. Most of the progress in boosting female employment rates took place from the mid-1970s to the early 1990s, driven by anti-discrimination legislation and the shift in the economy away from male-dominated manufacturing towards services.Since 1991, the increase in the proportion of women at work has levelled off.The ONS has collected data on the proportion of mothers who work since 1996, when it was 67%. It has since risen to 72%, partly as a result of changes in the benefits regime for single parents.
  4. Since 2000, the position of the middle class in the US has declined, shrinking in size, falling backward in income and wealth, and shedding some—but by no means all—of its characteristic faith in the future.
  5. The (US) Census Bureau’s annual report on income, poverty and health insurance shows that median household income in 2012 not only remains below the 2007 pre-recession level, but is barely above its 1995 level. This is the longest period of stagnant median household income since the Census Bureau began collecting such data in 1967. There are, however, significant variances across demographic groups. For example, the typical income of households headed by seniors has significantly increased.
  6. 82% of the British public now think the income gap is too large. Given that nearly seven in ten also believe it is the government’s responsibility to reduce income differences between the rich and poor, politicians must recognise this growing discontent and prioritise policies that reduce economic inequality.
  7. Between 1970/71 and 2007/08 the proportion of three and four-year-olds in pre-school education in the UK tripled from 21 per cent to 64 per cent.
  8. The UK was the 12th most expensive country in the EU-27 in which to buy a litre of premium unleaded petrol. Despite this, the proportion of households with two cars in Great Britain increased more than fourfold between 1971 and 2007, to 27 per cent.
  9. The UK is still a long way off its 1980s levels of support for monarchy, when 65% said it was “very important” for Britain to continue to have one. However, there has been a fascinating turn-around in opinion – from 27% thinking this in 2006 to 45% expressing strong support in this year’s latest survey.
  10. In the eleven months to November 2008 there were 870,000 house sales in the UK, a large decrease from the 1.5 million recorded during the same period in 2007.

—————————–

Version with trends language highlighted

  1. According to the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the total number of people suffering from eating disorders in 1980 stood at just 3,200 people. By 1998 this had leapt to 23,200 and this figure has most certainly increased over the past five years. Many Japanese medical institutions have found themselves unable to effectively treat patients suffering from eating disorders due to the increase in the number of cases. The first cases of eating disorders, which can be fatal, were documented in Japan during the late sixties and early seventies. Over the last decade various regional surveys have shown that the number of recorded cases has been steadily rising. Although Japanese rates are not as high as those in Europe and the United States, the new survey indicates that the problem is rapidly growing.Professor Watanabe’s previous research in conjunction with other studies conducted by medical researchers in various regions such as Niigata (published 2000), clearly indicate that the prevalence of eating disorders has been on the rise.
  2. In the UK there is a significant delay in marriage compared to previous generations and a subsequent rise in shared households. In the US, a new Pew Research Center analysis of recently released Census data suggests that most Millennials (adults ages 18 to 32) are still not setting out on their own. As of March 2013, only about one-in-three Millennials (34%) headed up their own household.  This rate is unchanged from March 2012 and even lower than the level observed in the depths of the Great Recession. Thus, it is clear that the trend of leaving the family home later than in previous generations is not confined simply to Japan. This seriously questions the validity of the uniqueness claim about the so-called Japanese parasite singles notion.
  3. More than two-thirds of British 16- to 64 year old women are in work, according to an analysis by the Office of National Statistics, compared with just over half – 53% – in 1971. Most of the progress in boosting female employment rates took place from the mid-1970s to the early 1990s, driven by anti-discrimination legislation and the shift in the economy away from male-dominated manufacturing towards services.Since 1991, the increase in the proportion of women at work has levelled off.The ONS has collected data on the proportion of mothers who work since 1996, when it was 67%. It has since risen to 72%, partly as a result of changes in the benefits regime for single parents.
  4. Since 2000, the position of the middle class in the US has declined, shrinking in size, falling backward in income and wealth, and shedding some—but by no means all—of its characteristic faith in the future.
  5. The (US) Census Bureau’s annual report on income, poverty and health insurance shows that median household income in 2012 not only remains below the 2007 pre-recession level, but is barely above its 1995 level. This is the longest period of stagnant median household income since the Census Bureau began collecting such data in 1967. There are, however, significant variances across demographic groups. For example, the typical income of households headed by seniors has significantly increased.
  6. 82% of the British public now think the income gap is too large. Given that nearly seven in ten also believe it is the government’s responsibility to reduce income differences between the rich and poor, politicians must recognise this growing discontent and prioritise policies that reduce economic inequality.
  7. Between 1970/71 and 2007/08 the proportion of three and four-year-olds in pre-school education in the UK tripled from 21 per cent to 64 per cent.
  8. The UK was the 12th most expensive country in the EU-27 in which to buy a litre of premium unleaded petrol. Despite this, the proportion of households with two cars in Great Britain increased more than fourfold between 1971 and 2007, to 27 per cent.
  9. The UK is still a long way off its 1980s levels of support for monarchy, when 65% said it was “very important” for Britain to continue to have one. However, there has been a fascinating turn-around in opinion – from 27% thinking this in 2006 to 45% expressing strong support in this year’s latest survey.
  10. In the eleven months to November 2008 there were 870,000 house sales in the UK, a large decrease from the 1.5 million recorded during the same period in 2007.

————————— 

Up Flat/ Becoming flat Down Down and up/ Up and down
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     

 

 

 

 

Up

 

Flat/ Becoming flat

 

 

Down

 

Down and up/ Up and down

 

leapt

increase

steadily rising

rapidly growing

has been on the rise

a rise

progress

boosting

it has risen

is barely above

significantly increased

tripled

increased fourfold

accelerate

increase exponentially

an upward trend

attain

reach

climb

rocket

double

escalate

expand

grow

increase at the same rate

sustain its good progress

shoot up

jump

rocket

soar

take off

 

 

is unchanged

has levelled off

stagnant

be stable

bottom out

plateau

flatten out

remain constant

remain steady

stabilize

stay flat

 

 

reduce

has declined

shrinking

a large decrease

decrease

decrease rapidly

deteriorate

dive

plummet

plunge

crash

collapse

drop dramatically

fall sharply

fall slightly

halve

shrink

significant decline

steady decline

slump

 

 

falling backward

a turn-around in…

a blip

a dip

a peak

(a new/ all-time) high

be unstable

fluctuate

bounce back

recover

regain lost ground

rebound

pick up (again)

fall back

slip back

Homework

Find two graphs related to social problems/ social studies and prepare to dictate them to a partner without saying the topic or any numbers by using language like that above. Your partner will listen to your description of the graph, draw it, and guess the topic.

—————————–

PDF version for easy saving and printing: social issues trends

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