A way of distinguishing a realist perspective between theories of social problems within is to contrast the 'level of analysis' on which their explanations are focused. Many theories that seek to explain social problems function at the level of the psychological or biological conditions that make some people behave badly – discovering the gene, chromosome or mental characteristic that separates the deviant from the normal. Such clarifications tend to operate at an individual level of analysis, dealing with the certain characteristics of the different and deviant individual. Others explanations tend to focus on a micro-social level, dealing with patterns of interaction between specific individuals and groups for example peer groups. (May 2001:5).
Any phenomenon defined as a social problem requires collective response rather than an individual resolution. For example : “When, in a city of 100,000, only one man is unemployed that is his personal trouble, and for its relief we properly look to the character of the man, his skills and his immediate opportunities. But when in a nation of 50 million employees, 15 million men are unemployed, that is an issue, and we may not hope to find its solution within the range of opportunities open to any one individual.” (Mills 1959:8) This example suggests that social problems only really become an issue when they affect a large proportion of society. What for one might look like a problem and if a large group of society is not affected, there is little probability that it will be defined as a social problem.
The “war of drugs” is one of the most argumentative examples of social problem construction. Throughout the world people consume all sorts of chemicals that affect their bodies: they drink large amounts of liquor; which can lead to another major problem with alcoholism it can also be seen as social problem as it increases risks of committing a crime such as rape, child abuse, assaults; they smoke cigarettes, which contribute to the deaths of more than 5 million people each year worldwide (CDC 2009); they take prescription drugs or every kind for medical and emotional ailment and they use drugs such as ecstasy, marijuana, crack, cocaine, and heroin. This is a classic example of social problem construction; but the official definition ignores the most harmful drugs – tobacco and alcohol – and targets on smaller substances like crack, cocaine, most commonly used in inner cities. (Blau 2004:7-8) But what would be the right alternative in this “war of drugs”? The Economist suggests that, “the least bad policy is to legalise drugs. “Least bad” does not mean good. Legalisation, though clearly better for producer countries, would bring (different) risks to consumer countries.” Right now the United States alone spends about $ 40 billion each year on trying to eliminate the supply of drugs, but with little or no result.
However, those in favour of the legalisation of recreational drugs argue that legalisation...