The Adlers’ article introduces a subject that some may never have considered a possibility, namely marijuana smoking by children from ages 0 to 8. In their presentation four issues arise to which it is useful to direct attention: 1) morality and the sociological enterprise; 2) diversity in adult perspectives; 3) concealment; and 4) social change as a continuous process.
Readers may find themselves with varied moral responses to the data. It is important to note, however, that the authors themselves neither recommend nor encourage any particular response, for their concern is merely with presenting their findings. Some may want to judge the authors’ silence on the subject of morality and the absence of condemnation as tacit approval for the activities they studied, but such a judgment seems to me unwarranted. The authors simply do not see their sociological task as requiring their moral judgment but rather as requiring presentation of data as it appears to those actually engaging in the activities under study.
This article can serve as a useful vehicle for considering one’s own values and the often ambiguous and contradictory forms they can take. Thus those who are morally opposed to any drug use may judge harshly the parents described in the article, perhaps even labeling them child abusers, while those who themselves smoke marijuana or approve of its use by others may nonetheless object to marijuana smoking by children. (Note, however, that some readers may themselves be labeled by adults as children, and, on this basis, those adults may see them as ‘too young’ to smoke marijuana.) Some readers may also find that in their own responses they sound more like their
From Symbolic Interaction, Spring 1978, Vol. 1 No. 2, pp. 90-104. Reprinted by permission of JAI Press Inc., Greenwich, Connecticut.