A. Mass Media
The mass media build up a stereotype of the drug taker, selecting information that is newsworthy. Distorted images of the deviant are presented and contrasted with the ‘decent’ man in the street. The public are bombarded with information on the problem. Young stresses how the stereotypes that the mass media presented were inaccurate.
The police are then put under pressure to act. Young suggests that the police are predisposed to act against drug takers because their way of life is so different from the police. The police value sobriety and respectability, the marijuana smoker values pleasure etc. Also, drug takers provide the police with a regular source of apprehendable villains.
C. Effects on drug takers
Young argues that the social stereotypes of the drug takers and police action based on these, fundamentally transforms the social world of the marijuana smoker. Deviancy amplification occurs and in certain aspects the stereotypes become fulfilled.
Process of Deviancy Amplification
This process, (developed by Leslie Wilkins) shows the result of labelling and stereotyping. When society defines groups of people as deviant, people tend to react against them and isolate them from the company of “normal” people. The groups, once isolated, develop their own norms and values, which leads to further isolation. Thus a spiral is created. The pattern, however, is not inevitable.
Young shows how the process worked in the case of the drug takers and how the stereotypes became reality.
1)As police action increased, the drug community became more united in a sense of injustice and more isolated. It became less possible for them to re-enter wider society and deviance is more likely to increase away from society.
2)Drug taking becomes more secretive and more important as it becomes the symbol of their difference. It becomes a central activity. Young suggests that as it becomes more secretive, the effects of the drugs are magnified.
3)As action against all drug takers rise, the marijuana smoker and the heroin addict may begin to feel a common identity.
4)As action intensifies, the price of drugs rises and the professional pusher and the criminal underworld become interested in the profits.
Young argues that the present law and the activities of the police and the mass media against drug taking lead to an increase of the problem.