Problem Of Littering In Social Marketing

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1. Introduction – definitions of Tame and Wicked Problems

This report aims to look at explaining the difference between Tame and Wicked problems and giving examples of each. Along with this, this report will look at the misconceptions associated with these Tame and Wicked problems as well as the impacts they have on society, economy and policy. Lastly this report will examine marketing campaigns previously conducted to address the Tame and Wicked problems.

‘Tame Problems’ are tightly defined with solutions fairly readily identifiable and solutions are based on variables that can be controlled by certain stakeholders. Tame problems are not necessarily simply problems but can be complex in nature. ‘Wicked Problems’ are complex issues, which are difficult to define, often involving many intersecting variables. As many variables or stakeholders can be involved this can effect the definition of the problem as each stakeholder may hold different importance or give a different level of priority to the problem. As well as this Rittel and Webber set out the following characteristics of ‘wicked problems’:

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  • Wicked problems have many interdependencies and are often multi-casual.
  • Attempts to address wicked problems often lead to unforeseen consequences.
  • Wicked problems are often not stable.
  • Wicked problems usually have no clear solution.
  • Wicked Problems are socially complex.
  • Wicked problems hardly ever sit conveniently within the responsibility of any one organisation.
  • Wicked problems involve changing behaviour.

2. Identification of Problems and Justification

This report will focus on two ‘Tame’ and two ‘Wicked’ problems. The two ‘Tame’ problems for this report are:

Drink Driving


Drink driving classifies as a ‘Tame’ problem because the problem can be tightly defined as people driving some sort of vehicle while under the influence of alcohol; there are limited variables and stakeholders involved, the person who choose to drive whilst intoxicated, police and governing bodies, innocent bystanders, and solutions are readily identified based on those variables.

Littering classifies as a ‘Tame’ problem because the problem can be tightly defined as people disposing of rubbish in the wrong locations; there are limited variables and stakeholders involved, stakeholders include the government bodies and waste disposal organisations and variables include the accessibility of waste disposal equipment for people to use. Solutions are readily identified and implemented on the variables involved.

The two ‘Wicked’ problems for this report are:

  1. Alcoholism
  2. Mental Health

Alcoholism can be classified as a ‘Wicked’ problem because a solution is not easily identified; solutions may also cause unforeseen issues (unemployment if businesses supplying alcohol are forced to close), different stakeholders hold a different priority on fixing the problem and not one stakeholder alone can fix the problem. Companies producing alcoholic drinks may quietly encourage responsibility to their consumers whereas some medical professionals may be more vocal in their efforts towards the problem.

Mental Health is classified as a ‘Wicked’ problem because no one solution can be identified, many stakeholders at every different level are involved from Government and those creating policies to those at a community level. Mental Health is a complex problem, which involves changing behaviour towards it.

3. Misconceptions

Tame Problems

Drink Driving has many misconceptions surrounding it, especially in Australian culture; many of these include ways to quickly sober up in order to drive safely.

Misconception: Coffee will sober you up.

Fact: Coffee masks alcohol’s sedation but it doesn’t reduce the amount of alcohol in your blood. You’re still just as drunk as you were before the coffee.

Misconception: Drive slowly and you’ll make it home.

Fact: Alcohol is a sedative that causes your brain to slow down and makes it hard to respond to situations, make decisions or react quickly all things you need to do whilst driving. Alcohol also dulls the thinking process, making it hard to multitask, whilst you may be concentrating on steering you may not see the oncoming traffic

Littering may seem harmless however each year millions of dollars are spent cleaning up litter throughout Australia.

Misconception: Littering doesn’t cost anything.

Fact: Litter costs state governments huge amounts of money, Victoria spends approximately 43.5 million on cleaning up rubbish every year and Queensland spend $20million.

Wicked Problems

Alcoholism can lead to serious health, social and lifestyle problems if left unchecked.

Misconception: Alcoholics are found in the lower depths of society.

Fact: A significant group of people who become addicted to alcohol have good jobs and families that adore them. These high functioning addicts may be in professions where heavy drinking is considered the norm and as long as they can perform their role there won’t be any pressure on them to reduce their intake. It can be hard for these addicts to escape their addiction, having been in denial about it for so long and they may feel they have more to lose by admitting their addiction.

Misconception: The cause of alcoholism is Alcohol.

Fact: there has not been one single cause of alcoholism determined however several risk factors have been identified, they include; Genetic predisposition, psychological, emotional makeup, social, age, frequency of drinking and gender (‘Breaking the Myths of Alcoholism’, 2019).

Mental Health and mental health illness have a lot of negative attitudes and stereotypes surrounding them, this results in stigma, discrimination and isolation for those suffering.

Misconception: Mental illness is a sign of weakness.

Fact: The fact is one in five Australians may develop a mental illness (‘Department of Health | Myths, misunderstandings and facts about mental illness, 2019) and 45% of Australians (‘Fact vs myth: mental illness basics’, 2019) are likely to experience mental health issues during their lifetime. Anxiety and depression are the two most common disorders.

4. Ethical Responsibility

Tame Problems

As mentioned earlier driving whilst under the influence of alcohol, impairs the skills and concentration needed to drive safely. This not only impacts the safety of the person driving but also those driving nearby or around them, in 2016 drink driving is a contributing factor in 30% of fatal crash and 1 in 4 drivers or riders killed were found to have a Blood Alcohol Limit exceeding the legal limit. Without addressing this issue more deaths are likely to occur.

Littering has massive consequences for all areas of the environment. Both marine animals and land animals mistake rubbish for food and this often causes these animals to die after eating the rubbish or becoming trapped in within it. Littering affects habitats; rubbish in the water breaks down eventually and release different kinds of toxins, which can have a devastating impact. Soil quality can be affected as soil can easily absorb pollution and toxin from rubbish which creates unhealthy plants.




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