100%(1)1 out of 1 people found this document helpful
This preview shows page 1 - 3 out of 16 pages.
rowsNavigate Study GuideMedicalization of DevianceThis article examines the medicalization of deviance through a sociologicallens. A definition of deviance is offered in terms of behavioral conduct, andindicates potential reasons individuals behave in a deviant manner. Next, adescription of the medicalization of deviance is offered that describes waysdeviant behaviors have been recategorized as medical conditions that can betreated through the use of pharmacological interventions. Accompanyingapplications are offered through the lens of alcohol and substance abuse.Issues are discussed that relate to treatment and conflicting philosophies.Subsequent areas of research for sociologists examining this phenomenon aresuggested.Keywords Deviance; Medicalization of Deviance; Social ConstructionismTheory; Social Learning Theory; SocializationThe Medicalization of DevianceOverviewFrom a historical perspective, the study ofdeviant behaviorandsocial controlbegan in the late 1960s. Interest emerged in ways categories of deviance arecreated, how the conflict among interest groups shapes the definition of whatis considered deviant, and detailed ways that social policy about deviancedevelop and change over time (Horwitz, 1981, p. 750). From a reflectiveperspective, Higgins (1998) observes that "many of us take for granted" thatthose who engage in deviant behavior "are different kinds of people than weare" (p. 141). This belief is reinforced by stereotypical images of crime anddeviance promulgated by the mass media, which often portray offenders asimmoral, impulsive, insane, or otherwise unique (Donziger, 1996). From adefinitional perspective, Brezina (2000) indicates that deviance and conformitycan best be described as"labels or definitions that are differentially applied to various individuals andtheir behaviors—not in terms of the personal attributes of the individuals, norin terms of the intrinsic qualities of the behaviors individuals display… Second,
sociological theories of deviant involvement are based on the implicit orexplicit rejection of explanations focusing on unique personal characteristics,especially abnormal traits of a biological or psychological nature" (p. 72).Akers (1994) indicates that sociological theorists tend to assume thatbiological and psychological variations are "more or less within the normalrange" and that little or no deviance is directly caused by abnormal physiologyor psychology (p. 69). Merton (1938) had previously indicated that straintheorists provide the most forceful argument in this regard by stating thatparticipation in deviant behavior most often represents "the normal reaction,by normal persons, to abnormal conditions" (p. 672). Moreover, Orcutt (1978)indicates that deviance is socially constructed and exists in relation to"interactional processes through which acts and actors are socially defined asdeviant" (p. 346). According to researchers, deviant behavior emerged insociety after “component elements of the social and cultural structures existed