An Exploration of Drug Dealing in Society

In every society, common trends and patterns emerge, encompassing aspects such as laws, interpersonal relationships, hierarchies, and, inevitably, crime. It is a universal truth that no society can boast absolute compliance with all its established rules and regulations. The law, functioning as an external mechanism of social control, is frequently transgressed, often without proportionate penalties. This raises the intriguing possibility that individuals or groups might successfully evade the consequences of breaking the law. However, the repercussions and risks associated with such transgressions remain substantial.

As a result, members of society find themselves grappling with a fundamental question: is the pursuit of criminal activities, such as drug dealing, truly worth the potential rewards? In this comprehensive case study, we aim to delve into the underlying factors that compel individuals or groups within a society to engage in drug dealing, with a specific focus on the correlation with Emile Durkheim's concept of organic solidarity. The distribution of illegal and illicit drugs poses severe health and societal risks, making it imperative to understand the motivations behind this criminal behavior and explore potential strategies for reducing drug trafficking and distribution.

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The Complex Legal Landscape in New Zealand

New Zealand's legal framework meticulously outlines regulations concerning drug use, possession, and distribution, complete with associated penalties for violations. Despite this, instances of individuals breaching these laws by engaging in drug distribution persist. This persistence prompts us to explore potential explanations for drug dealing, one of which may be rooted in Emile Durkheim's concept of the division of labor and specialization.

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In societies characterized by increasing complexity, the traditional model of mechanical solidarity gives way to organic solidarity. While mechanical solidarity emphasizes uniformity and minimal individuality, organic solidarity encourages task specialization and celebrates individuality. It is within the context of organic solidarity that we may discover one source of motivation for drug dealing. As societies evolve and become more intricate, individuals no longer engage in a narrow set of tasks but instead contribute to society through specialized roles. Organic solidarity fosters interdependence among individuals, as they come to rely on one another to fulfill society's diverse needs.

However, this heightened individualism can potentially lead to detrimental consequences. As the collective consciousness that characterizes mechanical solidarity diminishes, societies become increasingly vulnerable. Any disruption in this intricate web of specialization can trigger a societal breakdown. The excessive individualism inherent in organic solidarity may paradoxically breed a desire to challenge established boundaries, often resulting in the breaking of laws. Drug dealing, an illicit and morally reprehensible activity in most societies, thrives in the climate of individualism that accompanies organic solidarity. It is essential to recognize that the pursuit of excessive individualism can drive individuals to engage in activities that transgress societal norms, such as drug distribution.

Anomie and Its Connection to Drug Dealing

During periods of rapid societal transformation, individuals may experience a sense of alienation from the collective goals and values of their group. This disconnection leads them to lose sight of shared interests rooted in mutual dependence. As a consequence, they become less constrained by group norms, and their embrace of normative values becomes generalized rather than personally held. Emile Durkheim refers to this experience as anomie, a concept that resonates with the phenomenon of drug dealing.

Anomie can result in weakened social restraints and a lack of limitations on one's desires. This condition can explain how individuals rationalize their involvement in drug dealing, an activity that poses significant risks to themselves and others. Under the influence of anomie, individuals may succumb to social pressures and adopt a rebellious attitude toward the very society from which they feel disconnected. Drug dealing represents a blatant act of defiance against societal norms and regulations, a means of "sticking it" to the system while simultaneously ensnaring others in the web of addiction and suffering.

Illegal drugs exert a detrimental impact on various segments of society, often leading to addiction and a decline in overall quality of life. Drug dealers knowingly perpetuate this cycle, driven by a desire to rebel against the system that they perceive as oppressive. The manifestation of anomie in drug dealing underscores the extent to which individuals will go to assert their independence and resist societal constraints, even when such actions harm their own communities.

Dysfunction and Functional Alternatives in Society

Each society possesses unique needs, and different segments of society contribute to fulfilling these specific requirements. However, not all individuals or groups within a society will find conventional means to meet these needs satisfactory. It is here that Durkheim's concept of dysfunction comes into play, shedding light on how societal change can drive individuals to seek functional alternatives for achieving their objectives.

In complex societies characterized by organic solidarity, various ideas, norms, and solutions coexist, catering to the diverse needs of the population. Nonetheless, not every facet of society may prove effective for every individual or group. Dysfunction emerges when certain societal elements fail to address specific needs adequately. This concept is particularly relevant to drug dealing, as it suggests that individuals may resort to unconventional means, such as drug distribution, to compensate for perceived shortcomings in societal structures.

By understanding dysfunction, we gain insight into the dynamics of social change and its implications for individuals. Drug dealers, in this context, can be viewed as individuals seeking alternative pathways to achieve their goals, despite the ethical and legal ramifications of their actions. The pursuit of innovation, as described by Durkheim, enables them to circumvent traditional means and adopt unconventional strategies for social mobility.

An individual's social and economic background can significantly influence their perceived opportunities for advancement within society. Those facing limited prospects within the boundaries of the law may turn to innovation, exploring alternative avenues for achieving their aspirations. Drug dealing, in such cases, represents a potentially quicker and more accessible route to financial success, provided one evades the law's grasp. Understanding the motivations behind drug dealing within the framework of functional alternatives allows us to grasp the complex interplay of societal factors that drive individuals toward criminal behavior.


The concept of solidarity evolves alongside societal complexity. While the existence of crime and deviance remains constant, changes in solidarity can influence the underlying causes of criminal behavior. Emile Durkheim's theories of organic solidarity, anomie, dysfunction, and functional alternatives provide valuable insights into the factors driving individuals to engage in drug dealing.

Although many experts assert that drugs will persist in societies worldwide, this does not negate the importance of identifying the root causes of drug-related crimes through Durkheim's sociological theories. Striving for social harmony over conflict necessitates a deep understanding of why individuals choose to defy the law. By recognizing the multifaceted dynamics at play, we can take the first step toward reducing the prevalence of illegal and harmful drugs that continue to afflict societies around the globe.

Updated: Nov 13, 2023
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An Exploration of Drug Dealing in Society. (2016, Mar 24). Retrieved from

An Exploration of Drug Dealing in Society essay
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