What are social evils?

Let’s start out with a brief introduction on what we think ‘social evils’ are all about. According to the popular website Ask.com, a definition of ‘social evil’ would be something like this:

“Social evils are issues are issues which in one way or another affects members of a society and is often considered controversial or problematic in terms of moral values. Some of the most common social evils would be alcoholism, racism, (child) abuse, organized crime and inequality.”

So basically, social evil is anything that could be considered harmful or dangerous to a society and/or community. Let’s take a few examples and determine why they can be called ‘social evils’.

One of the first things one will think of when discussing issues that could be harmful for a society would be crime. Organized crime is something that is happening for thousands of years now and will most likely keep happening for the next few decades. But what makes organized crime a social evil?

Judging from the definition we just mentioned above, organized crime can be harmful to society in many ways. First of all, some forms of crime go hand in hand with violence, which can be considered a direct threat or danger to society.

Other forms of organized crime can take a non-violent approach but can still cause harm to individuals and groups of people. For instance, a bank fraud which was deliberately kept secret by the perpetrators can cause harm for people who deposited money on that bank. In a worst case scenario the bank could go bankrupt and thousands of people would lose their hard earned savings.

As we can conclude from the examples mentioned earlier, social evils can happen in many forms and be harmful for society in several different ways ranging from physical harm to financial, social and even psychological harm.

The JRF results – what are today’s biggest social evils?

More than a hundred years ago, famous philanthropist and ‘champion of social reform’ Joseph Rowntree named his personal social evils of British society back in the early 1910’s. These included gambling, drugs, war, slavery and poverty.

Since that day and age many things have changed, including the way people live with each other and our vision on how we should treat each other. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation is an organization in honor of the famous Mr. Rowntree and aims for lasting change for people and places in poverty, communities where everyone can thrive and a more equal society.

A couple of years ago, the JRF held a consultation on today’s social evils. This online activity revealed deep unease about issues like greed, individualism and decline of community in the UK. Respondents mentioned that they felt our society is slowly becoming more selfish, anti-social and greedy. Our shared set of morals values seems lost and our ‘moral compass’ is pointing in strange directions.

The issues mentioned above were the ones that people were most concerned about. Next to these however are a wide variety of other, more concrete ‘evils’ which were identified by Mr Rowntree a 100 years ago, but have taken a slightly different form. These include Drugs & Alcohol and Poverty & Inequality.

Next to these, the 3500 participants also managed to address some evils which seem more relevant in our modern day and age than in the early 20th century. This would be the decline of the family and our common responses towards immigration in the UK.

Even without the consultation, many of us tend to agree with many of the above mentioned ‘evils’ within our society. This is exactly the reasons we started this site, through this medium we want to raise more awareness and provide a place for like-minded people to share their thoughts and be informed about some of the latest developments when it comes to social issues.