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Conflict Theory and Addictive Behavior

  • 06 Pages
  • Published On: 17-11-2023

Sociological theories explain several aspects of social interaction in human society by analysing and discussing different types of social subjects such as social perception, social trend, community interaction, social behaviour, social inequality, organisations and social groups. In the modern era, development of addictive behaviour in young people becomes a major contemporary social issue that has an adverse impact on healthy lifestyles, positive thoughts and strong physical health and wellbeing of today’s young generation. In this context, the selection of this topic is highly relevant that will discuss the strength and weakness of the famous sociological theory, The Conflict Theory to explain the addictive behaviour in society. Here the essay will explain how Conflict Theory can be used to describe the social aspects of addictive behaviour in the young generation. In addition to this, the essay will also highlight the limitations of this theory to explain this selected contemporary social issue.


Conflict theory is originated from the perspective presented by Karl Marx regarding the consequences and causes of social order and class conflict (Trevino, 2017). While it comes to discuss addictive behaviour in society, one of the benefits or strength of using this theory is that this theory highlights the system of inequality and the social system of power distribution in the society. As mentioned by Kempf et al. (2017), one of the major reasons behind today’s young generation is highly addicted towards drugs, alcohol, tobacco and narcotic products is that raising social inequalities that makes the young people residing in poor and deprived community to be devoid proper healthcare, employment and education facilities. By using the sociological perspectives presented in the conflict theory by Karl Marx it can be stated that current society is maintained and controlled by dominant social groups that have the power to get all facilities that they need to meet the basic needs such as health, education, food, employment and dignity and respect. On the other hand, people who belong to the lower social class always struggle to meet their basic needs which enhances the level of frustration, depression, anxiety and behavioural disorders in young generations. As mentioned by Simon (2016), Conflict theory is useful to analyse how social inequality triggers negative and criminal behaviour in the young population that lead them towards drug addiction and alcoholism. On the contrary, critics argued that addictive behaviour is not always associated with social inequality and unequal power distribution in the society rather there are many other psychological and behavioural aspects associated with this addiction which cannot be explained by the Conflict theory. On supporting the viewpoint Jasso-Medrano and Lopez-Rosales (2018) stated that, due to joblessness in the country which is the outcome of global economic slowdown, many people belonging to the upper-middle class and rich society are not able to find suitable jobs despite having a good academic score. These people suffer from a high level of depression, frustration and anxiety which provoke them to get addicted to drugs, smoking and alcoholism which they think would assist them to get rid of their pain. In this context, Aye (2020) argued that, although there are criticisms regarding using Conflict theory in examining addictive behaviour in society, it needs to be acknowledged that the number of cases of alcoholism, drug addiction and use of narcotics is extremely higher in deprived and lower social classes as compared to higher classes. Based on the perspectives presented by Marx in the Conflict theory it can be stated that people who reside in lower social class are the apparent sufferer of lack of education, health literacy, healthcare facilities and good income level. Lack of education, joblessness and lower living standard pose an adverse impact on their thoughts, decision-making, perception and mentality of poor people which play an important role in triggers addictive behaviour in them. Moreover, Conflict theory highlights the fact that social organisations and institutions contribute to the unequal distribution of young people to jobs in the society in which people belonging to most powerful social class get the best designations and the people belonging to lower class society get the less powerful designation (Shubnikova, 2018). This develops negative behaviour and thoughts in young people residing in lower-class society which triggers addictive behaviour in them

One of the major limitations of Conflict theory while describing addictive behaviour in society is that conflict theory emphasizes mainly on the different social class and unequal power distribution but not on the family dynamics and interpersonal conflict of personalities. As mentioned by Zhitomirsky-Geffet and Blau (2016), development of addictive behaviour in young people is not only related to the social inequality and biased power distribution but other factors such as family background, parental support, experience, bereavement, loss and behavioural disorders can also trigger the habits of drug and alcohol consumption in the young population. As mentioned by Schwebel et al. (2020), in many cases victims of drug abuse, alcohol and nicotine consumption belong to rich and high society family background in which they get proper economic, education mad healthcare facilities by their parents, but lack of psychological and emotional support from parents, tormented family environment and negative behaviour of parents as well as of family members lead these people towards developing addictive behaviour. As mentioned by Zhitomirsky-Geffet and Blau (2016), evidences suggested that many teenagers belonging to high society took the first dose of the drug when they were at school. Therefore, not only the social inequality and injustice but also family dynamics and interpersonal conflict of individual are also associated with the development of addictive behaviour. The conflict theory can not highlight the aspects such as negative parental approach, lack of parental support and lack of personality development of people as the important facilitators of developing addictive behaviour.

From the overall discussion, it can be concluded that sociological theories explain and analyse sociological aspects such as social interaction, social relation, social perception, social organisation and groups. Conflict theory is beneficial in highlighting how unfair power distribution and inequalities in society are associated with developing addictive behaviour in the young population. The discussion also concludes that except social class and power distribution there are also other facilitators of addictive behaviour such as interpersonal conflict of people, parental support, early years experiences and family environment. Therefore, while discussing addictive behaviour in society, all the above-mentioned aspects needed to be considered which will provide new insight on the topic.

Essay plan:


Briefly explain one strength and weakness of one sociological theory that explains the addictive behaviour

Thesis statement:

Sociological theories explain and analyse different aspects of society that assist modern researchers to use these theories in analysing and evaluating the contemporary social issues in a comprehensive way.

1st paragraph:

In this paragraph, the essay will introduce the topic by using a suitable topic sentence at the start of this paragraph. Then the essay will discuss that to what extent the topic selection is relevant to the current context. Here the essay will highlight the problem statement in which it will discuss how addictive behaviour is becoming one of the major contemporary social issues day-by-day that needs to be managed and controlled. This paragraph will outline the aspects that are going to discuss on the below-mentioned paragraph.

2nd paragraph:

In this paragraph, the essay will discuss on strength of the conflict theory in term of explaining the addictive behaviour of society. here the essay will make relevant arguments by using appropriate references which will assist the essay to analyse whether the mentioned strength of the conflict theory can describe the proper reason and characteristics of addictive behaviours in society.

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3rd paragraph

In this paragraph, the essay will discuss one limitation of conflict theory to explain addiction behaviour.

4th and last paragraph:

In this paragraph, the essay will draw a suitable conclusion of the entire discussion, in which a summary of the discussion will be represented.

Reference list:

  • Aye, T.T., 2020. Conflict Theory in Sociology. GRIN Verlag.
  • Healey, J.F., Stepnick, A. and O'Brien, E., 2018. Race, ethnicity, gender, and class: The sociology of group conflict and change. Sage Publications.
  • Jasso-Medrano, J.L. and Lopez-Rosales, F., 2018. Measuring the relationship between social media use and addictive behavior and depression and suicide ideation among university students. Computers in Human Behavior, 87, pp.183-191.
  • Kempf, C., Llorca, P.M., Pizon, F., Brousse, G. and Flaudias, V., 2017. What’s new in addiction prevention in young people: A literature review of the last years of research. Frontiers in psychology, 8, p.1131.
  • Schwebel, F.J., Korecki, J.R. and Witkiewitz, K., 2020. Addictive behavior change and mindfulness-based interventions: Current research and future directions. Current Addiction Reports, pp.1-8.
  • Shubnikova, E.G., 2018. Modern goals and tasks of pedagogical prevention addictive behavior of adolescents. Astra Salvensis-revista de istorie si cultura, 6(Supp 2), pp.552-565.
  • Simon, R.M., 2016. The Conflict Paradigm in Sociology and the Study of Social Inequality: Paradox and Possibility. Theory in Action, 9(1).
  • Trevino, A.J., 2017. Conflict Theory. In The Sociology of Law (pp. 349-372). Routledge.
  • Zhitomirsky-Geffet, M. and Blau, M., 2016. Cross-generational analysis of predictive factors of addictive behavior in smartphone usage. Computers in Human Behavior, 64, pp.682-693.

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