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one strength and weakness of one sociological theory that explains addictive behaviour

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


The terminology “addiction” denotes regarding the illness that impacts on the brain of an individual and in turn, affects his or her conduct (Beynon, 2009). When an individual becomes dependent on the use of any substance, that particular person cannot fight against the temptation of not using them though it may cause immense damage to the physiological system of that human being (Lewis, 2012). It is usually evident that addictive conduct develops towards the utilization of illicit drugs like heroin, cocaine, or other unlawful medications, alcohol, and smoking (Wickelgren, 1998). One sociological theory that relates to the addictive behavior is the “theory of normalization” developed by Howard Parker, Fiona Measham, and their colleagues specifically to illustrate the issues of drug addiction and the type of drugs and their usage pattern within the society (Sznitman, 2016). The present assignment will detail regarding one strength and weakness of the above-mentioned theory to illustrate the chosen perspective of addictive behavior.

Main Body:

According to some of the sociologists, conduct can be socially defined as deviant or challenging by examining the conduct in comparison to the normative conduct developed within the population (Denzin, 2017). According to the opinions and beliefs of Durkheim the mechanistic approach by which the normative ethical values and cultures get cultivated within a population via the process of socialization in between the family, and also via the process of progressive education and religion that builds up the moral values within the individuals (Alexander, 1990). The consumption of illicit drugs can be considered as one of the major concern within the society and as per the findings over the last 20 years, the pattern of utilization of drugs have changed (UNODC, 2015; Hibell et al., 2012).


About two decades ago, Howard Parker and his colleagues had developed the theory of normalization as a descriptive framework to understand the problem of drug addiction and the trend of changes that the issue had brought within the society (Measham et al., 1994). The theory is strengthened by its advanced six dimensions to explain the addictive conduct such as experimentation, the heightened phase of drug trial rates; use, the phase of enhanced regular consumption; availability, the increased rate of supply to the meet the demands; social accommodation, the liberal attitudes of the youngsters towards the consumption of drugs for recreational purpose and also among the non – consumers specifically; Cultural accommodation, the neutral or positive attitude of the media and the society towards the drug consumers and the usage; and the policy, the policy should be more liberal and relaxed (Parker, 2005). However, this theory is contradicted by the conventional theories such as the Social Control Theory, Problem Behavior Theory, and the Social Development Model or theory (Jessor, 1977; Hirischi, 1969; Hawkins, 1985). The normalization theory can be used as a tool to evaluate the extensive consumption of drugs along with the pattern of changes in the usage with respect to the socio-cultural context (Erickson, 2010). This theory specifically stresses upon the recreational and sensible usage of drugs among the well balanced and established youngsters who are conventionally not expected to consume illegal drugs for addiction. It also addresses drug addiction and consumption as a part of the identity of contemporary society and also as an experience of life. On one hand, this theory has been considered as relevant as the policies with regard to usage of cannabis have undergone certain fundamental changes and also the emerging usage of e-cigarettes, synthetic cannabis is getting support (Sznitman, 2016).

However, the theory also has been criticized by several other theories as it has definitely sparked the enhanced consumption of cannabis because the policy or legal framework is spreading the “wrongdoing” message to the society, i.e., the common populace. Similarly, the addiction towards tobacco consumption also got enhanced with the media popularity of e-cigarettes and it is acting as a threat to the society by accepting these cultures as a part of the normative behavior of the society (Sznitman, 2016). Among the weakness of this particular theory, Parker did not incorporate the dimensions of normal lives and the demoralization into his theory. Studies conducted upon the particular theory highlighted that gender differentiation is there but socioeconomic demarcation for drug use is vague as it is evident that consumption of drugs is common both among the lower and higher class youth, both groups of youths with a higher or lower level of education (Cristiano, 2014). Moreover, it has been also observed that the drug users of the highly prevalent nations are more acceptable and adjusted in comparison to the drug consumers of the lower predominant nations (Sznitman et al., 2015a; Sznitman et al., 2013). Another dimension of demoralization denotes that drug usage or addiction is considered to be socially unacceptable or abnormal behavior. According to Hammond et al., (2006) those smokers who have a high degree of beliefs or opinions of demoralization were found to quit the addiction during the follow-up sessions in comparison to the groups possessing the reduced level of demoralization opinions.


Thus in conclusion it can be said this theory has been critically debated due to its associated strength and weakness and the thought of normalization was considered to be too broad. The theory did not consider the intricacy of the conduct outcomes of any individual and the social. On the other hand in response to the particular weakness of the theory, the researchers have brought into the notion the concept of “differentiated normalization” that addressed the varied utilization of drugs by the varied groups of people. Thus, though there is a complexity within the behavior of addiction among individuals this particular theory can help the researchers all over the globe as a tool to illustrate the correlations in between the conventional dimensions of inequality, among the varied risk groups, with the different socioeconomic factors, along with the association in between the usage patterns of drug and the concept of normalization.

Essay Plan:

A plan of essay helps to organize the ideas in such a way that it can be read, think, and described in a modified manner. In the present assignment, the theory of normalization developed by Howard Parker, Fiona Measham, and their colleagues specifically to illustrate the issues of drug addiction and the type of drugs and their usage pattern within the society will be addressed. In the introductory part, the addictive conduct would be explained along with the current substances that are used to meet the demands of addiction would also be mentioned. Concerning one of the strengths of the above-mentioned theory, the wide dimensions of the theory and its applicability within the contemporary society with respect to the socio-cultural context would be highlighted. On the other hand, one weakness of the theory would be the acceptability of the concept of normalization due to its broad meaning had been stressed upon. This theory was criticized by many of the conventional theories as it was spreading the message of “wrongdoing” to society and common people and it did not consider the intricacy of the conduct outcomes of any individual and the social. Thus, the essay had been critically analyzed and presented in the form of a debate.

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