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SOC*2070 Readings Week 8.doc

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University of Guelph
SOC 2070
Linda Hunter

Substance Use and Misuse Constructing Deviance (Adler Intro to Part 4 pg. 149-157) Moral Entrepreneurs: Campaigning - the process of constructing and applying definitions of deviance can be understood as a moral enterprise - it involves the construction of moral meanings and the association of them with specific acts or conditions - people involved with making deviance are called Moral Entrepreneurs - the deviance-making enterprise has 2 facets: (1) Rule-Creating and (2) Rule-Enforcing - there are 2 kinds of moral entrepreneurs: (1) Rule-Creators e.g. politicians, teachers, parents and (2) Rule Enforcers e.g. police, judges, RAs, parents - rule creating can be done by individuals acting either along or in groups - more commonly, individuals band together to use their collective energy and resources to change social definitions and create norms and rules - groups of moral entrepreneurs represent interest groups e.g. MADD - rule creators ensure that our society is supplied with a constant stock of deviance by defining the behaviour of others as immoral - they do this because they perceive people as threats and feel fearful - moral entrepreneurs first goal is Awareness, they do this through “claims-making” - claims-makers draw our attention to given issues by asserting “danger messages” to create a sense that these conditions are problematic and pose potential danger but also usually have specific solutions they recommend - they draw on the testimonials of various “experts” in the field (such as scholars, doc- tors) - issues are framed to society through the media as “typical” - several rhetorical techniques are used to package and present these facts in the most compelling way - statistics may show a rise in incidence of a given behaviour or its correlation with other social problems - dramatic case examples can paint a picture of horror in the public’s mind - new syndromes can be advanced, packaging different issue together into a be- havioural pattern portrayed as dangers e.g. internet addiction - rhetoric requires that each side seek the “moral high ground” in their assertions and at- tacks on each other - pursuing only the purest public good - second, rule creators must bring out a Moral Conversion, convincing others of their views - their successful conversion of others further legitimates their own beliefs - must draw on elements of drama, novelty, politics and deep mythic themes of cultures - to gain visibility, they must attract the media attention necessary to spread the cam- paign widely - they must also enlist the support of sponsors, opinion leaders who need not have ex- pert knowledge on any particular subjects but are liked and respected e.g. actors - finally they look to different groups in society to form alliances to support their cam- paigns, made up of long-term allies - at times, the efforts of moral entrepreneurs are so successful that they create a “moral panic” - when a threat to society is depicted, promoting terror and dread with its power- fully pervasive focus on folk devils - conditions of unsettling social strain make a community ripe for a moral panic - to make a claim, it is necessary to engage in a variety of specific activities: naming eh problem, distinguishing it from other problems, determining the scientific, technical, moral or legal basis of the claim and gauging who is responsible for taking action - folk devils become treated as threats to dominant social interest and values - significant stigma contests may emerge between claims-makers and those who at- tempt to reject or even reverse the stigmatization - these contests tend to play out in the political domain - their goal is to achieve the dominance of specific moral perceptions and values - moral panics, at their core, are thus power struggles between various groups in society - there is a stage-by-stage analysis of moral panics - to be successful, moral panics have to occur during a ripe historical time, when a com- binations of social, ecological, ideological, professional and/or political forces have con- tributed to some growing cultural anxiety - they are then triggered by a specific incident that precipitates awareness that is going on and then targets the public’s attention toward a specific folk devil - the content of the moral panic is explored, investigated and possibly blown out of pro- portion - all moral panics fade or decline eventually, since they represent inflated fears and cannot be sustained - they usually leave a residual effect - once the public viewpoint has been swayed and a majority of people have adopted a social definition, it may remain at the level of a norm or become elevated to the status of law through a legislative effort - after norms or rules have been enacted, rule enforcers ensure that they are applied - this process tends to be selective Differential Social Power: Labeling - those who control the resources have the ability to dominate - they use their power to subjugate the weak - a range of different factors give certain groups greater social power - one element in money - big business can use it to make campaign contributions and sway political candidates and fund research favourable to them - money also defines individuals’ social class - race and ethnicity influence social power so that behaviours of the dominant white population are less likely to be defined and enforced - gender is a third element with men dominating over women - fourth, people’s age affect power, with young people and older people holding less re- spect, influence, attention and command - fifth, greater numbers and organization can empower groups - sixth, education - ability to speak as experts - finally, social status generates power through prestige, tradition and respect Differential Social Power: Resisting Labeling - powerful groups may be successful in working to resist the application of definitions of deviance to them - work to build a positive social image - even when they do not become involved in protecting their image, members of more powerful and respected group are less likely to be labeled deviant The Social Construction of Drug Scares (Adler Ch 15 pg. 159-170) Drug Scares and Drug Laws - drug scares have been a recurring feature of the US society for over 200 years - they are autonomous from whatever drug-related problems exist - first and most significant was over alcohol in the 18th and early 19th century - alcohol was a scapegoats for most of the nation’s poverty, crime, moral degeneracy, “broken” families, illegitimacy, unemployment, and personal and business failure - first real drug law was San Francisco’s anti-opium den ordinance of 1875 - focused mostly on opium smoking of Chinese immigrants - the law was passed against a specific form of drug use engaged in by a disreputable group that had come to be seen as threatening - in the early 20th century a nationwide scare focusing on opiates and cocaine began - this happened when the addict population shifted from white, middle-class, middle- aged women to young, working-class African American males - the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914 was passed - in the Great Depression, there was a push for a law against marijuana, it was success- ful - drug scare of 1960s conceptualized “killer weed” - scientists were drawn to such propaganda because the dominant groups felt that the country was at war against drugs - more recently we have seen a crack scare since it was linked to inner-city, minority poor - it was not well-known or widely use - one can abstract a recipe for drug scares with 7 ingredients: 1. A kernel of truth 2. Media magnification 3. Politico-moral entrepreneurs 4. Professional interest groups 5. Historical context of conflict 6. Linking a form of drug use to a “dangerous class” 7. Scapegoating a drug for a wide array of public problem Toward a Culturally Specific Theory of Drug Scares - drug scares have been far less common in other societies - drug scares are a historical pattern in the US - crusaders benefit from their crusades by increasing social control of groups perceived as threatening, establish one class’s moral code as dominant, bolster a bureaucracy’s sagging fiscal fortunes or to mobilize voter support - there is something about our culture which makes citizens more vulnerable to anti-drug crusaders’ attempts to demonize drugs - there are 3 reasons for this: - (1) claims about the evils are drugs are especially viable in American culture in part because they provide a welcome vocabulary of attribution - with a scapegoat, citizens gain the cognitive satisfaction of having a folk devil on which to blame bizarre behav- iours or contains they and troubling - (2) claims about the evils of drugs provide an especially serviceable vocabulary of at- tribution in the US in part because our society has developed from a temperance culture - forged from protestantism and capitalism, both which demand self-control - self-control is highly values and drug-induced altered states induce a “loss of control” - (3) on the foundation of a temperance culture, advanced capitalism has build a post- modern, mass consumption culture that exacerbates the problem of self-control - our society offers an increasing number of incentives for indulgence (loss of control) - mullions of Americans have joined 12 step groups, more than 100 of which have noth- ing whatsoever to do with ingesting a drug - “addiction” or the generalized loss of self-control, has become the meta-metaphor for a staggering array of human troubles” The Troubling and Troubled World of Youth (Berska Ch 5 pg. 154- 174) Deviant Youth: “Troubled” Youth - troubled youth are first and foremost a danger to themselves, their behaviour threatens their own well-being, physical or mental health and future - they are perceived as potentially troubling if they are uncontrolled or if their problems are not effectively dealt with - e.g. youth who abuse drugs or alcohol, engage in premature sexual activity, become teenage parents or live on the streets - greatest area of public concern is substance abuse Substance Use Among Youth - substance use is widely evident in our culture - social controls are further evidence of substance use - the 3 most commonly used substances are now alcohol, cannabis and opines pain re- lievers - substance abuse among youth peaked in 1979 and steadily declined Tobacco - beginning in 1990, youth smoking increased once again but declined between 2000 and 2005 - historically has been more prevalent among males but in 1990 that reversed - smoking is related to friends/peer pressure, family income, education level in the household and parental smoking behaviour - socially controlled by prohibiting the sale of
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