Deviance Theory and Drug Use

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Deviance Theory and Drug Use

By | December 2005
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Theories of Deviance Applied to Drug Use
Since the dawn of society there have been people whose behavior differed from the rest of society. There are many different theories and perspectives on why people do things like abuse drugs, and although we my never have all the answers, sociology still help us to understand the problem better.

In order to understand the theories of deviance, and apply them to drug use in our society one must first understand what deviance is. Alex Thio defines deviance as "an act that is considered […] to be a violation of some social rule" (448). Social rules that delineate how individuals in a society should behave are called norms. There are two types of norms: mores and folkways. Mores are strong norms that specify behavior and constitute demands- most mores are laws. Folkways are weak norms influencing behavior within a society- folkways usually relate to proper etiquette in a society (Thio 42-44).

There are three factors that influence whether an act is considered deviant. The first is time period, the second is location, and the third is public consensus. Different time periods have different norms. An example of this is, how until 1865 Americans were allowed to have slaves; however, in 2003 having a slave would be a violation of mores. Deviance is also limited to location. In some countries it is okay for young children to have alcohol with meals, but not in the United States and Canada. Not only do time and location factor into identifying deviance, but also so does public consensus. There is not a law that states one must not blow his or her nose on his or her neighbor's shirt, but almost no one does that. It would be a violation of one of societies folkways (Thio 44,142).

There are two main types of deviance, criminal and non-criminal. Non-criminal deviance violates a norm, but not necessarily a law. Non-criminal deviance is usually not formally punished, but may have unfavorable results. An example of non-criminal...
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