Sociological View on Deviance and Drug Use Essay

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Pages: 36

Introduction What can a sociologist tell us about deviance, and drug use that we do not already know? If there is anything distinctive about the sociologist view, it is their emphasis on social context. One of the central ideas of all human experience is meaning. Meaning is something imposed and socially made-up, and has two features: it is both external and internal. Meaning is assigned externally to objects and behavior by social cooperation. But it is also assigned by the individual (internal): it is arrived at as a result of a private act of choosing on the individual’s part. The same behavior, the same phenomenon, the same material reality, can mean completely different things to different people, or to the same person in …show more content…
Becker noted that this process of segregation creates "outsiders", who are outcast from society, and then begin to associate with other individuals who have also been cast out (Becker, 1963). When more and more people begin to think of these individuals as deviants, they respond to them as such; thus the deviant reacts to such a response by continuing to engage in the behavior society now expects from them. Howard Becker developed his theory of labeling (also known as social reaction theory) in the 1963 book Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology of Deviance. Becker's theory evolved during a period of social and political power struggle that was enlarged within the world of the college campus. Liberal political movements were embraced by many of the college students and faculty in America. Howard Becker harnessed this liberal influence and adjusted Lemert's labeling theory and its symbolic interaction theoretical background. The labeling theory outlined in Outsiders is accepted as the prevailing social reaction approach by Lemert as well as most other sociologists. Becker's approach has its roots in the symbolic interaction foundation of Cooley and Mead, and the labeling influences of Tannenbaum and Lemert. Charles Cooley's Human Nature and the Social Order (1902) examines the personal perception of oneself through studies of children and their imaginary friends. Cooley develops the theoretical concept of the looking