Though it has produced a high quality body of research, the study of substance use has remained highly individualized in its focus. This dissertation adds a sociological understanding to that research. A review of theories within sociology, particularly neoinstitutionalism, and within criminology, particularly social disorganization and strain theory, points to the conclusion that both national legal culture and local structural factors should not be overlooked in studies of substance use. This approach is particularly fruitful in law and criminal justice, where much differentiation exists among nations in the enforcement of laws. Using hierarchical models, the following explores individual level substance use and opinions about drug policy using variation at three levels, taking into account individual characteristics, local context, and national legal culture. Two main findings emerge from these models. First, national level legal context plays a role in understanding individual level probabilities of substance use and opinions on drug policy, even after controlling for individual and local characteristics. Second, the effects of the components of theories on the ecology of crime, namely social disorganization and strain theory, depend on the characteristics of the individuals that are experiencing them. Both levels of these contextual effects more firmly root the study of substance use, and crime more generally, in debates within sociology.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. June 2009. Major: Sociology. Advisor: Professor Christopher Uggen. 1 computer file (PDF); x, 262 pages. Ill. (some col.)
Vuolo, Michael Christopher.
Legal context and youth drug use: a multilevel analysis of the European Union..
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