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opiates in hospital settings were not so vulnerable.

He explained this by suggesting that,

whereas both hospital and street users experience

physiological withdrawal symptoms upon cessation

of use, only street users are consciously aware

adaptation addiction


of the fact that the source of their distress lies in

their heroin deprivation. Lindesmith argued that,

by using drugs specifically to alleviate withdrawal,

mere drug users were transformed into

genuine drug addicts. This theory was attractive

to sociologists in the twentieth century because it

insisted the symbolic meanings actors found in

their drug experiences were essential elements of

the addiction process. While Lindesmith’s theory

remains the classic canonical benchmark for contemporary

sociological theorizing on addiction, it

has been subject to several rather serious critiques.

Most fundamentally, his theory presumes

that physiological withdrawal distress is a necessary

prerequisite for the onset of addictive patterns

of behavior. In the wake of the so-called

crack cocaine “epidemic,” theories of addiction

predicated on the experience of physiological

withdrawal distress have been undermined. Because

they do not involve gross physiological withdrawal

symptoms, crack cocaine addiction, along

with nicotine addiction and behavioral addictions

like those to eating, gambling, and sex, have cast

doubt on the generalizability of Lindesmith’s

theory and have even put in question its validity

with respect to opiates themselves.

During the mid twentieth century, structural

functionalists offered a variety of theoretical accounts

for apparently addictive behavior that

departed in important ways fromLindesmith’s seminal

work. Seeking wholly social structural explanations,

these theories shared in common a

departure from Lindesmith’s presumption of a necessary

physiological component to addiction. In

his famous essay “Social Structure and Anomie”

(1938, American Sociological Review), Robert K.

Merton suggested that chronic drunkards and

drug addicts might exemplify the retreatist adaptation,

one of his five modes of adjustment

whereby social actors adopt ostensibly deviant patterns

of action. According to Merton, the addict

could be understood as an individual who believes

in the propriety of both cultural goals and the

institutionalized procedures society affords for

achieving those goals but who cannot produce

the desired results by socially sanctioned means.

The result of this failure is a retreat from social life

into “defeatism, quietism, and resignation.” This

proposition was developed by Richard Cloward

and Lloyd Ohlin in their book Delinquency and

Opportunity (1960) in what became their fairly influential

“Double Failure” hypothesis regarding addictive

behavior. In contrast to Merton, Cloward

and Ohlin suggested addicts were not opposed to

adopting illegitimatemeans of achieving legitimate

cultural goals, but rather were incapable of using

even these means for securing social rewards.

Hence, addicts were double failures in the sense

that they failed to achieve by either legitimate or

criminal procedures. Heavy drug use was held to

alienate the putative addict from both mainstream

and delinquent subcultures, thus further minimizing

their opportunities for social success. Some

structural functionalists moved beyond explanations

of the distribution of addicts across social

structural positions to consider the social psychological

processes that motivated addictive patterns

of alcohol or drug use. The best-known of these was

normative ambivalence theory, according to which

dysfunctional substance use will arise when agents

are bombarded with competing normative orientations

to their use. According to functionalists, apparently

addictive behavior patterns were to be

regarded as eminently rational, if painful and socially

notorious, adaptations to social structural

deprivation. The functionalist approach tended to

stereotype addicts as necessarily socially disadvantaged

and sometimes to confuse the trappings of

poverty with the trappings of addiction. But it had

the virtue of freeing sociological research from the

presumption of a brute biological basis for addiction

and of allowing sociologists to entertain the

possibility that people might experience alcohol or

drug problems simply as a result of the ways they

had learned to use these substances to cope with

the social structural circumstances of their lives.

Structural functionalist approaches were rivaled

by approaches to addiction (and deviant

substance use more generally) proffered by ethnographers

broadly allied with symbolic interactionism.

As part of a more general critical turn

against structural functionalism in the second

half of the twentieth century, many of these sociologists

distanced themselves from what David

Matza, in his book Becoming Deviant (1969) dubbed

the “correctional” perspective found in structural

functionalist theories of addiction and deviant

substance use, and moved towards what he called

an “appreciative” analytic stance towards such

putatively deviant behavior. Noting that modern

societies were a good deal more pluralistic and

conflicted than structural functionalists had generally

allowed, these researchers advocated an agnostic

moral regard for putatively dysfunctional

or deviant behavior and an effort to empathize

with putatively deviant individuals and subcultures.

No longer was it assumed that behavior

reviled in mainstream culture was necessarily

viewed negatively by those who themselves engaged

in the behavior. Nor was it any longer

addiction addiction


assumed that the social mechanisms according to

which these behaviors were produced and sustained

need reflect a functional breakdown of

either the individual or his or her society. Indeed,

many of these studies highlighted the existence of

subcultural prestige hierarchies, wherein the use

and sale of illicit substances was valued as a

mark of adventurousness and other subculturally

valued characteristics. Substance use was depicted

as a source of meaning in the lives of users. Hence

studies focused on such matters as drug slang or

argot, the settings of drug-related activity, the

norms and practices characteristic of drug and

alcohol using subcultures, and the careers

through which drug users passed as they moved

from initiates to seasoned veterans of drug- or

alcohol-using social worlds. The concept of career

has also been used by researchers to emphasize

the important influence exercised by labeling on

putatively addictive behavior patterns.

More recently, the topic of addiction has been

taken up by leaders in rational choice theory who

have properly recognized it as an apparent counterexample

to the axiomatic proposition that

social action is necessarily rational action. Some

of these theorists have sought to reconcile empirical

instances of addictive patterns of behavior

with core propositions of rational choice theory.

Others have concluded that addiction is essentially

irrational and more thoroughly rooted in neurological

dysfunction than micro-economic decisionmaking

mechanisms. While these efforts have

produced some interesting technical refinements

of rational choice theory itself, they have done less

to shed new sociological light on why some people

seemto experience rather severe levels of difficulty

refraining from the use of alcohol or drugs, even

after repeated negative experiences with them.

Another more recent line of theoretical work on

addiction hails from attribution theory. Attribution

theorists turn their attention away from why

certain people fall into apparently addictive behavior

patterns and instead consider social and psychological

explanations for why people attribute

behavior to addictions. Attribution theory properly

highlights the fact that objective characteristics of

social behavior and efforts to explain that behavior

are intimately linked to one another. In addition

to research that considers why certain activities

are so addictive for certain people, fruitful insights

can come from the study of why the concept of

addiction is itself so compelling for certain people

acting in certain social contexts.

To date, sociologists have illuminated various

important dimensions of problematic substance

use but have recurrently found it almost impossible

to validate the concept of addiction without

recourse to biological accounts of physiological

dysfunction. Those who have taken the idea of

involuntary substance use seriously have overwhelmingly

incorporated reference to biological

mechanisms as indispensable elements of their

own sociological theories. In contrast, the vast

majority of those who have not drawn from biology

have found it difficult to account for the apparently

involuntary aspects of addiction. In his

book The Alcoholic Society (1993), Norman Denzin

develops a theory of “the alcoholic self” which

takes important theoretical strides towards a

more thoroughly sociological explanation by incorporating

his more general approach to the sociology

of emotions into his theory of addiction.

While an undeniably important contribution,

Denzin’s research on the emotionality of addiction

exhibits consequential ambiguities that make it

difficult to square fully with the claim that addictive

patterns of behavior are genuinely involuntary.

In a series of essays including “The Embodiment of

Addiction” (2002, Body and Society), Darin Weinberg

has drawn upon the growing literature on the

sociology of embodiment to reconcile the phenomenology

of addiction as involuntary affliction

with the longstanding sociological claim that

people might acquire problematic patterns of substance

use simply by virtue of the ways they have

learned to use these substances to cope with the

social structural circumstances of their lives. He

argues that the sociology of embodiment allows

us to appreciate more fully that not all meaningful,

or socially structured, behavior is behavior

that we deliberately choose or with which we

self-identify. This work suggests a fruitful interface

between the sociology of embodiment, the

sociology of moral inclusion, and sociological

work on the boundaries of human agency.

Rather predictably, most contemporary sociological

research on drugs and alcohol focuses on

questions pertaining to the various social problems

that arise from either substance use itself or

the social policies in place to control substance

use. No doubt these questions will, and should,

continue to occupy the attentions of social scientists,

whether or not they require use of a concept

of addiction. But the sociology of addiction as

such also holds promise as a valuable empirical

test case for social theories concerned with the

relationship between much more general sociological

themes, including nature/culture, structure/

agency, rationality, emotion, embodiment,

and social exclusion. This type of research will

addiction addiction


certainly require a vigilant enforcement of the

conceptual distinction highlighted earlier – that

between addiction per se and voluntary activity

that is merely deviant. DARIN WEINBERG

Adorno, Theodor Wiesengrund (1903–1969)

Born in Frankfurt, Germany, on September 11,

1903, into an upper-class bourgeois family, the

son of a German Jewish father and Italian Catholic

mother, Adorno studied philosophy, psychology,

and musicology at the University of Frankfurt

where he received his PhD in 1924. With the rise

to power of Hitler’s fascism, Adorno first emigrated

to England and then joined the Institute

for Social Research in exile at Columbia University

in New York.

During the 1930s, he became closely connected

with the Institute’s attempt to develop a critical

theory of society. This involved Adorno in one of

the first attempts to develop a Marxian critique of

mass culture, which Adorno and the Institute discerned

was becoming ever more significant as an

instrument of ideological manipulation and social

control in democratic capitalist, fascist, and communist

societies. Working with the “father of mass

communications,” Paul Lazarsfeld, at the Princeton

Radio Project and then at Columbia University,

Adorno participated in one of the first

sustained research projects on the effects of popular

music. Later, Adorno was also to work on one

of the first attempts to develop a critical analysis

of television, producing an article on “How to

Look at Television” in 1954.

Adorno was a key member of the interdisciplinary

social research projects at the Institute and

worked on their studies of fascism and anti-Semitism.

Adorno and Institute director Max Horkheimer

went to California in the early 1940s,

where they worked closely on the book that

became Dialectic of Enlightenment (1948 [trans.

1972]). In Minima Moralia (1974) and other essays

of the period, Adorno continued the Institute’s

studies of the growing hegemony of capitalism

and the integration of the working class as a

conservative force of the capitalist system. In

such a situation, deeply influenced by his sojourn

in New York and California, Adorno only saw the

possibility of individual revolt. He also feared,

however, the resurgence of authoritarianism in

the United States and collaborated on a groundbreaking

collective study of The Authoritarian

Personality (1950) with a group of Berkeley

researchers. The project embodied the Institute’s

desire to merge theoretical construction with

empirical research and produced a portrait of a

disturbing authoritarian potential in the United

States. Adorno was responsible for elaborating

the theoretical implications and helped design

the research apparatus.

In the early 1950s, Adorno returned with Horkheimer

to Germany to reestablish the institute in

Frankfurt. Here, Adorno continued his studies in

sociology and culture, though he turned primarily

to philosophy in the last years of his life. During

the 1950s, he participated in the Institute’s sociological

studies of education, students, workers,

and the potential for democracy. Adorno wrote

many sociological essays at this time and participated

in the debates published in The Positivist Dispute

in German Sociology (1976). In these debates,

Adorno defended the Institute’s conception of dialectical

social theory against positivism and the

“critical rationalism” defended by Karl Popper

and other neopositivists.

Increasingly critical of communism and skeptical

of Marxism, Adorno primarily engaged in

cultural criticism and studies of philosophy and

aesthetics during his last decade. As he died suddenly

of a heart attack in 1969, his magnum opus,

Aesthetic Theory, was published posthumously



A notion invented in the eighteenth century in

the German-speaking world, the term aesthetics

was bequeathed to the history of ideas with philosopher

Alexander Gottleib Baumgarten’s Aesthetica

(1750–8). As developed by Baumgarten,

aesthetics was the study of the beautiful. He conceived

of this project as a science of “sensuous

cognition,” and from its inception aesthetics was

concerned with the effects of art works on their

recipients, perhaps most famously illustrated in

Immanuel Kant’s (1724–1804) concept of the sublime

and the idea of purposeless, transcendental

art works. In the English-speaking world, aesthetics

was subsumed under a concern with the philosophy

of taste and is represented in the work of

John Locke (1632–1704) and David Hume (1711–76).

As the century waned, British and continental

theories of aesthetics were increasingly preoccupied

with notions of beauty and unity in the arts,

pointing to structural correlates between music

and the plastic arts in terms of their effects, and

fueling more general notions of unity in the arts

and sciences, notions that would continue to develop

in the following century. As part of the

general rise of interest in aesthetics, Aristotle’s

Poetics was translated into English in 1789. During

the second half of the eighteenth century, an

Adorno, Theodor Wiesengrund (1903–1969) aesthetics


acquaintance with the science of aesthetics was

often considered to be part of an individual’s

equipment for social life, and it is here that the

initial conception of aesthetics as the science of

beauty and its effects began to provide seeds for

subsequent critical considerations of the role of

the arts in relation to social classification. Concurrently

in the late eighteenth century, the arts

flourished, stimulated by burgeoning publics, urbanization,

and the status-seeking strategies of

increasingly professionalized artistic workers in

London, Paris, Vienna, and other European cities.

During these years, new aesthetic hierarchies

were articulated by artistic workers and appropriated

by arts consumers as a resource for status

creation and maintenance.

Many sociologists of the arts have described

how aesthetics (understood as beauty and value)

and taste in the arts have been resources for social

boundary work. Pierre Bourdieu, for example,

sought to turn Kant on his head in Distinction

(1979 [trans. 1984]), by arguing that aesthetics

could never be disinterested but was rather linked

to lifestyle and position in social space. More recently,

scholarship in environmental and social

psychology, arts sociology, and cultural geography

has returned to the original focus of aesthetics,

albeit from an empirical and pragmatically

oriented perspective, highlighting the concept of

aesthetic ecology and aesthetic agency, and developing

theories of what may be afforded by art

works and aesthetic materials broadly construed.


affirmative action

Affirmative action, or positive discrimination as it

is known in the United Kingdom, entails the provision

of various types of advantages to members

of groups who have been systematically oppressed

for their membership in that group. The term

stems from the legal understanding of affirmative

or positive remedies which compel wrong-doers to

do something in addition to merely refraining

from the wrong-doing itself. Affirmative action

policies can be found throughout the world.

Though they can focus on any group that has

suffered systematic discrimination, affirmative

action policies tend most often to concern ethnic

groups historically oppressed within a given society,

and women. They tend to provide advantages

in the domains of education, employment, health,

and social welfare.

Affirmative action first became a topic of serious

debate in the wake of the civil rights movements

of the 1960s when it was discovered that

legal proscriptions against historical wrong-doings

were not wholly successful in creating equal opportunities

for members of historically oppressed

groups. Activists began suggesting that, in addition

to the negative remedies proscribing discrimination

against historically oppressed groups, it

would be necessary to implement affirmative or

positive strategies to correct past wrongs. Various

approaches have been taken to distributing affirmative

action advantages. Some societies have

favored quota systems that require the ratio of

recipients of certain scarce resources, like state

building contracts or university admissions, to

resemble the ratio found in the larger society

between majority and minority groups. Others

have favored a less restrictive entitlement to consider

issues of ethnicity and gender in deciding

how best to distribute scarce resources. But, regardless

of approach, affirmative action policies

have very often met with rather fierce resistance,

primarily from members of historically privileged

groups who resent what they call reverse discrimination.

Much more rarely, resistance has come

from members of the groups presumed to benefit

from affirmative action on the grounds that affirmative

action policies sustain racial, ethnic, or

gender antagonisms and/or prove demoralizing to

their beneficiaries.

Sometimes, particular affirmative action policies

have been critiqued on the grounds that

they tend to benefit only the most privileged

among historically oppressed groups and fail to

remedy the much more devastating hardships

and inequalities suffered by what William Julius

Williams (The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the

Underclass, and Public Policy, 1987) has called the

“truly disadvantaged.” In addition to failing to

help the most disadvantaged segments of historically

oppressed groups, it has been suggested that

such policies discredit affirmative action as such

by giving benefits to people who neither deserve

nor need them. In place of ethnicity- and genderbased

affirmative action policies that are insensitive

to the comparative hardships suffered by

their recipients, some have suggested policies

more explicitly pegged to actual disadvantage.

These kinds of arguments have met with vigorous

counterarguments suggesting that race- and

gender-based affirmative action remain crucial to

the project of institutionalizing a more egalitarian

society. Many high-profile former recipients of

affirmative-action advantages, including former

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