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Howard Becker

Howard Becker was an American sociologist who was an active contributor to the field in the early 20th century. He is widely known for work he did regarding the culture of drug use, particularly the use of marijuana. One of his first articles on the subject, Becoming a Marihuana User, outlines how social interaction plays a role in learning to use and enjoy marijuana. His qualitative-based research in this area used symbolic interaction theory.
In his study, Becker found that experiencing a “high” from marijuana use is a socially learned behavior. An individual who consumes marijuana will only experience a pleasurable “high” after he or she has gone through three steps:
He or she has learned to smoke marijuana in a way that will produce real effects.
He or she has learned to recognize these effects and connect them with drug use.
He or she has learned to enjoy the sensations associated with smoking marijuana.
The novice marijuana smoker learns how to smoke and how to interpret smoking’s effects from other marijuana smokers. Think about what you have learned about symbolic interaction theory, and how Beckers perspective is evidenced in the research results.
*******In your discussion post respond to the following questions in two or three paragraphs:
*How might the results of the study have changed if *the sociological perspective considered was different?
*How would an individual perceive the results in considering conflict theory? Or structural functionalism?
*If that same study was conducted today, might there be other factors that would impact it?


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