The social novel, also known as the social problem (or social protest) novel, is a "work of fiction in which a prevailing social problem, such as gender, race, or class prejudice, is dramatized through its effect on the characters of a novel". More specific examples of social problems that are addressed in such works include poverty, conditions in factories and mines, the plight of child labor, violence against women, rising criminality, and epidemics because of over-crowding and poor sanitation in cities.
Terms like thesis novel, propaganda novel, industrial novel, working-class novel and problem novel are also used to describe this type of novel; a recent development in this genre is the young adult problem novel. It is also referred to as the sociological novel. The social protest novel is a form of social novel which places an emphasis on the idea of social change, while the proletarian novel is a political form of the social protest novel which may emphasize revolution. While early examples are found in 18th century Britain, social novels have been written throughout Europe and the United States.