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Definitely, maybe not? The normalisation of recreational drug use amongst young people

Shiner, Michael ORCID: 0000-0001-6540-1882 and Newburn, Tim (1997) Definitely, maybe not? The normalisation of recreational drug use amongst young people. Sociology, 31 (3). pp. 511-529. ISSN 0038-0385

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Identification Number: 10.1177/0038038597031003008


Increasing numbers of social scientists, policy makers and other social commentators suggest that drug use has become a relatively common form of behaviour among young people who accept it as a `normal' part of their lives. Although there is quite strong empirical evidence that the proportion of young people using drugs at some point in their lives is growing, there is little evidence to support the contention that it is so widely accepted as to be normal. Drawing on quantitative and qualitative data, we develop a critique of what we term the `normalisation thesis'. In doing so we argue that this thesis exaggerates the extent of drug use by young people, simplifies the choices that young people make, and pays inadequate attention to the meaning that drug use has for them. Crucially, we argue that in their reliance on large-scale survey data the main proponents of the normalisation thesis pay insufficient attention to the normative context within which drug use occurs.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 1997 Sage
Divisions: Social Policy
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Date Deposited: 19 Mar 2015 12:54
Last Modified: 18 May 2024 18:36

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