Introduction In this essay, I will first define the relative focus of the two perspectives – sociological and modern pathological perspective. Then, I will explain the term problem gambling through the two perspectives. The third part of my essay will be the explanation of the findings in the reports of Caritas A G Counselling Centre on problem gamblers in Hong Kong. The sociological perspective The sociological perspective focuses on social contexts. People with a sociological perspective do not simply study individuals or their social context itself but also how people are influenced by the social context in which they live. Henslin 2009:8) A sociological perspective is a macro one. When studying a social phenomenon, people with sociological perspective incline to focus on how such phenomenon is influenced by a group of people who share the same culture or have common similarities rather than the motive of individuals. (Henslin 2009:8, Chung 2012a) Take the incident of the Express Rail Link as an example, a plethora of people took the streets to protest against the proposal. If we examine this issue with a sociological perspective, we will not stress why an individual wanted to take part in the protest.
At the centre of sociological perspective towards this issue is the social context which possibly forces the group of people to come out to the protest and how such social context causes their act. The social contexts may be the similar treatment of the society to the protesters. Many of the protesters are so-called post-80s. They have a great deal of grievances and feel upset for the very large gap between the rich and the poor. These things which can affect people’s ideas and behavior are the focus of the sociological perspective. The pathological perspective
Whereas for the pathological perspective stresses the traits of individuals. Pathological perspective is rooted in the organic analogy. (Chung 2012b) Based on Herbert Spencer’s view, society is like a living organism. (Chung 2012b) In the pathological perspective, “social problem is the failure of the individual and institution to fulfill moral expectation about what healthy social conditions and arrangements should be” while what is moral equals what is healthy. (Chung 2012c) Since “social sickness is social problem”, the deviant behavior which also is the violation of moral expectation is defined as a sickness. Chung 2012c) The pathological perspective has gone through two stages – classical and modern pathological perspective. The classical pathological perspective stresses the nature of people. In its point of view, people become criminals because of their inherently defective quality. (Chung 2012c) The classical pathological perspective portrayed criminals as defective, dependent, or delinquent. (Chung 2012b) Cesare Lombroso wrote in The Born Criminals that “there is criminal type of people exited in the society” after analyzing several criminals’ facial characteristics.
Criminals usually born with peculiar shape of the skull and forehead, large jaw bones, high cheek bones and large ears etc. (Chung 2012c) Their offspring is also likely to inherit the criminals’ genes. Therefore, the born criminals’ offspring is more likely to be criminals than other people’s offspring. And later there is another group people who are called modern pathologists see a bit differently towards the cause of criminals’ anomaly. They also believe that the defective quality of human being counts for the anomaly of criminals.
But when they are dealing with some abnormal data related to the facial characteristics of criminals, they suggest that it is possible to take the defective social environment around the criminals into account. (Chung 2012c) It is because they believe people’s behavior can be changed by nurture. (Chung 2012c) Therefore, the main difference between the central study of classical and modern pathological perspective is that the latter one sees social environment as a vital factor to trigger criminals’ anomaly. Introduction to problem gamblers in Hong Kong Gambling is not an unusual activity in Hong Kong.
Since there are various legalized forms of gambling activities such as lottery, horse betting and soccer gambling etc. in Hong Kong, people can get access to gambling activities easily. I believe the saying that more accessible the gambling activities to the public, more popular such activities are, resulting in more citizens becoming gamblers. (McMillen 1996) I define problem gamblers as gamblers who involved themselves in excessive gambling activities and cannot control themselves in gambling. Whenever they are restricted to take part in gambling, they will show “withdrawal symptoms – irritable, nervous, angry and restless. (Chung 2012d) In the following paragraphs of my essay, I will explore the cause of problem gamblers form sociological and modern pathological perspective and how they can be used to explain the findings in the reports of Caritas A G Counselling Centre on problem gamblers in Hong Kong. Explanation on problem gamblers in Hong Kong based on the sociological perspective In sociological perspective, problem gamblers are not born to be a gambler. Sociologists look at how the group of people shapes their ideas and changes their behavior to become problem gamblers by the social contexts in which they live in. Henslin 2009:8) Problem gamblers’ thinking and behavior cannot be cultivated by problem gamblers themselves only. They do not descend the anxiety to gamble from their parents. Their own role in society and their experiences influence their thinking and feeling. According to the findings provided, more problem gamblers are found to be males whose occupation is service worker. Most of them are with lower education level, they joined society and worked after completing secondary three curriculum. They started to take part in gambling since they were 16-20.
The sociological perspective would suggest that the gambling atmosphere in their working environment shapes their mind to become willing to gamble. The surrounding positive attitude towards gambling shapes those problem gamblers’ belief. The long working-hour and boredom of this group of gamblers’ job have made gambling a relaxation and excitement to them. Since they are also be classified as lower social economic groups, excessive gambling leads to relatively larger amount of debt of them than problem gamblers who have other occupation.
Their debt and attitude towards gambling then lead to other problems such as family problem and financial problem. The pressure they experienced and how other people from the society view them shape their thinking. Since they cannot fulfill the expectations of their social position, they have a greater desire for releasing their pressure and getting rid of their worries. Another finding showed that female problem gamblers experience a bit different from the males. Comparing with male problem gamblers, most female problem gamblers are house-makers who have no income.
The amount of debt they have is relatively smaller than that of the male problem gamblers. Since females are not expected to be the breadwinner of their family, the expectations from the society are relatively low. They have problem gambling mainly in the hope of escaping from the boredom of everyday life and bad relationships with their family. Explanation on problem gamblers in Hong Kong based on the modern pathological perspective In modern pathological perspective, problem gamblers are said to be sick because their behavior is defined as a sickness. Chung 2012c) There are several psychological and physiological factors that cause people to become problem gamblers. They are genetic abnormality which they inherited form their former generations, mental illness which is resulting from an obsession or a compulsion and abnormal level of dopamine. (Chung 2012d) Modern pathologists also suggested that, apart from the psychological and physiological factors, we also have to look at other risk factors such as gender and family influence when studying problem gamblers. (Chung 2012d)
More problem gamblers are found to be males in the findings provided, this can be explained biologically. Males are born to be more likely interested in taking risks than females. And those problem gamblers are more likely to have a variant of the dopamine D2 receptor gene which will make people more likely to be associated with pathological gambling than any other addiction. (Griffiths 2002) However, in modern pathological perspective, the defective quality of problem gamblers is no longer sufficient to convince people that it is the only factor which causes problem gambling.
It is believed that the great exposure to gambling due to their working environment also contributed to the cause of becoming problem gambler. The common practice of gambling of their colleagues facilitates the nurturing of their gambling behavior. Then, they gradually become addicted to gambling because of its exciting process. Then, they gamble with more money than they intended and become lost of control over gambling, resulting in having large amount of debt. (Chung 2012d) Conclusion This essay has demonstrated the explanation on the findings related to problem gamblers in Hong Kong.
Explanations from both of the sociological and modern pathological perspective are convincing and they have reciprocal factors towards each other. Therefore, it is impossible to use either one perspective only to explain the findings provided. The sociological perspective explains how people become problem gamblers due to the influence of their social contexts while the modern pathological perspective explains why people are more likely to become problem gamblers than other people and why they continue to take part in gambling.