In your own words, identify what you see as the greatest set of problems associated with drugs and/or the drug war.
Final Position Paper – Drugs and Society (SYP3550: Spring 2022)
Final Position Paper Topic:
We have seen throughout this course that drug use is often associated with some type of social, political and/or public health-related problem. Yet the nature of the problem is hotly debated. On the one hand, some argue that some aspect of drug consumption is the primary problem. Within this group, some take a broadly defined conception of drug consumption, arguing that illegal as well as legal drug consumption is problematic, and indicative of problems related to our social-psychological environment (ex. economic marginalization or consumerist attitudes to dealing with stress). Others take a narrowly defined conception of drug consumption, arguing that the legal-illegal distinction is justified and that the real problem is illegal drug consumption. Here, attitudes differ over how to reduce illegal consumption (ex. debates over “supply-side strategies” that criminalize production, transport, sales; “demand-side strategies” that criminalize users; strategies that conceive of drug consumption as a “mental health” or “social-economic” rather than criminal problem).
On the other hand, some argue that the primary problems associated with the drug industry are produced by the current set of U.S. drug policies and that they are especially problematic for specific social groups, class and communities. Here, some argue that U.S. drug war policies are well-intentioned but simply misguided, emphasizing the need to demonstrate the negative impact of drug war policies so as to inform policymakers to modify (though not fundamentally alter) their drug war strategies. Others, in contrast, argue that the drug policies themselves were made with alternative aims and objectives (ex. industries attaining lucrative government contracts; politicians creating an image to appeal to their electorate).
In your own words, identify what you see as the greatest set of problems associated with drugs and/or the drug war. Using at least 2 sources used during this semester (articles, books, films), formulate an argument as to why you think this set of problems is particularly troublesome and how we as a society should best respond to this set of problems. Make sure that you clearly articulate what the specific problem, which social group or groups are most affected, why that is, and what you believe the source or cause of the problem is.
Learning Outcomes: This paper is designed to evaluate a student’s ability to (a) develop coherent and cogent argumentation in terms of their writing skills and (b) develop their critical reflexivity skills.
- Coherent and cogent argumentation:
- clear writing that is logically organized and grammatically correct
- development of logically coherent and well-integrated narratives including thesis statements, statements of the organization of the paper, presentation of evidence, analysis, and implications
- synthesizing various sources to develop one’s own position
- developing persuasive arguments using data and disciplinary discourse
- Understanding one’s own position/standpoint in systems of social relations
Your paper should be 6-8 pages long, typed, double-spaced, and with absolutely no spelling or grammatical errors! All authors must be properly cited and formatted in ASA sociology style (https://www.asanet.org/sites/default/files/savvy/documents/teaching/pdfs/Quick_Tips_for_ASA_Style.pdf ).
Feel free to use other sources not used in the classroom in addition to the 2 from class, as long as they speak directly to issues raised by the other works cited and as long as they are properly cited. Do not add a cover page, but make sure you have a citation page. You can turn in your paper early, but this will be considered your final draft (do not expect me to read any drafts to provide comments that you could use to strengthen a final draft turned in later). An electronic copy of your paper must be uploaded our course’s Canvas website at any time during the close of our semester but no later than 5:00 PM on Tuesday (5/3). No late or emailed papers will be accepted.
Your final papers are worth 20% of your grade. They will be graded using the following rubric:
- Student clearly stated their argument (5% excellent; 4% good; 3% fair; 2% unsatisfactory)
- Student was well-informed on the topic chosen and demonstrated a clear knowledge of the relevant concepts discussed in class (5% excellent; 4% good; 3% fair; 2% unsatisfactory)
- Student was able to think creatively, reflexively, and critically about their topic (5% excellent; 4% good; 3% fair; 2% unsatisfactory)
- Overall coherence and structure of the paper (5% excellent; 4% good; 3% fair; 2% unsatisfactory)
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