Substance Use and Abuse: Sociological Perspectives

Substance Use and Abuse: Sociological Perspectives

Substance Use and Abuse: Sociological Perspectives

Substance Use and Abuse: Sociological Perspectives

Synopsis

While the issues of substance use and abuse have been addressed from a variety of perspectives and approaches, the fundamental social issues have not been covered in any systematic way. This book represents the first academic effort to apply major sociological theories to the field of substance use and abuse in order to provide readers with a solid knowledge base from which they may develop more informed ideas about prevention, intervention, treatment, law enforcement, and social reactions to this ubiquitous social problem. Using a systematic framework, Shaw reviews the existing literature, explains key concepts, addresses fundamental issues, and discusses the policy implications for public health, social control, community, and work. This comprehensive sociological treatment of substance use and abuse is essential reading for educators in public policy, sociology, criminology, and deviance.

Excerpt

The idea of writing this book developed during my two-year postdoctoral scholarship in substance abuse research at the University of California– Los Angeles, under the auspices of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. As I participated in research projects to witness how data are gathered and analyzed, I soon realized that the field of substance use and abuse is plagued with an outgrowth of unrelated data collection and contingent explanations conceived in response to specific data. As I attended meetings and ploughed through the literature to learn how research findings are interpreted and reported, I gradually became convinced that there is a phenomenal poverty of, and therefore a dire need for, understanding of the fundamental issues in the field.

I then went back to my training in sociology and criminology. I examined the major concepts and theories I learned and found most of them relevant and insightful to my quest for understanding on the matter of substance, substance use, and substance users. I began with the social control perspective, into which I delved deeply while working on my previous book, Social Control in China. I tackled about two perspectives a year. After nearly six years of serious intellectual effort, I now have a whole variety of sociological explanations for substance use and abuse, including anomie, career, conflict, functionalist, rational choice, social control, social disorganization, social learning, social reaction, and subculture perspectives.

In form, all perspectives follow a similar logical sequence and have a comparable systematic framework. Sources of inspiration review relevant conceptual and empirical contributions in the existing literature. The theoretical framework builds upon definition, theoretical image, theoretical

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