Difference Between Problem and Issue

Key Difference – Problem vs Issue

 

Problem and Issue are two words that are often confused as two words that give the same meaning, although they are not so and there are some differences between the two words. The word ‘problem’ is used with an intention to solve it. On the other hand, an issue is used in the sense of controversy. This is the main difference between the two. While an issue contains an element of controversy, a problem does not. This article attempts to clarify this difference.

What is a Problem?

The word ‘problem’ is used with an intention to solve it. Any problem for that matter will have a solution. There is no element of controversy in a problem. A problem is concerned with the organization or the institution as a whole. A problem cannot be lengthened or made serious. A problem cannot be complicated. A problem remains the same in the course of time.

The problem is personal in character. Problems cannot be solved privately. This is because problems can affect others around you as well. A problem does not have the potential to cause harm. Problems can be permanent or temporary. Problems, when not solved, cannot grow in their impact but tend to remain the same.

Let us take a social problem in order to comprehend this. Poverty is considered one of the greatest social problems in the modern society. This is connected to so many other problems as well. It is institutional in character and contains no controversy. In many countries, especially in the Sub-Sahara region and South Asia people suffer due to poverty. Some academics believe that this has now created a culture of poverty.

Difference Between Problem and Issue

Poverty is a social problem

 

What is an Issue?

An issue is used in the sense of controversy. An issue is all about the controversy. There is always a debate whether it is correct or not. For instance, let us take the case of homosexuality. While some accept it, there are also other arguments against it as unnatural. This is a famous debate in Asian countries especially, where homosexuality is viewed as a social issue.

Unlike a problem that is connected with an institution or organization, an issue is concerned with one or a few persons of an organization or an institution. This is one of the main differences between the two words. An issue could be lengthened or made serious. An issue can be complicated, but a problem cannot be complicated. An issue does not remain the same in the course of time. It can either grow serious or can get light.

Also, an issue is organizational in character. Issues can be handled privately. One of the important differences between the two is that an issue can have the potential to cause harm, unlike a problem. Issues can be recognizable solved. Issues if not solved can grow in their impact. This highlights that there is a clear difference between a problem and an issue. This difference can be summarized as follows.

Problem vs Issue

Homosexuality is considered as a social issue by some groups in the society

 

What is the Difference Between Problem and Issue?

Definitions of Problem and Issue:

Problem: The word ‘problem’ is used with an intention to solve it.

Issue: An issue is used in the sense of controversy.

Characteristics of Problem and Issue:

Controversy:

Problem: There is no element of controversy in a problem.

Issue: An issue is all about the controversy.

Scope:

Problem: A problem is concerned with the organization or the institution as a whole.

Issue: An issue is concerned with one or a few persons of an organization or an institution.

Character:

Problem: Problem is personal in character.

Issue: An issue is organizational in character.

Harm:

Problem: A problem does not have the potential to cause harm.

Issue: An issue can have the potential to cause harm.

 

 

Image Courtesy:

1. Much poverty in India By Peter van der Sluijs (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

2. Homosexuality Symbols By Martin Strachoň (Bazi) (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons