U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Control Attitudes and Perceptions of Drug Use: An Exploratory Study

NCJ Number
Spciological Spectrum Volume: 24 Issue: 4 Dated: July-August 2004 Pages: 427-452
Stelios Stylianou
Date Published
July 2004
26 pages
This exploratory study addressed the control attitudes and perceptions of drug use.
Understanding public perceptions of deviant behavior are an important component of the study of normative culture and social control. This study attempted to expand crime seriousness research into the normative aspect of public attitudes toward social control and into the area of victimless behaviors. It investigated the composition of control attitudes toward the formal and informal control of behavior. The study was based on normative philosophical conceptualization using the philosophical principles of libertarianism, paternalism, and moralism. The libertarianism belief emphasizes the right of the individual to have free choice. The only limitation is that an individual’s behavior should not harm other individuals. The paternalistic principles and perceptions of self-harm endorsed the legal control of behaviors that may harm the individual actor. The moralistic principles and perceptions of immorality endorse the restriction of behaviors that violate the moral standards of society. The study attempted to illustrate how distinct normative principles guide control attitudes. It is important to make such distinctions in order to better understand the normative structure of social control and in order to think more clearly and effectively about the operation and legitimacy of social control institutions. References