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Social issue: the death of the Whitney Houston Essay


In February 11 201In February 11 2012, the music and entertainment fraternity suffered a blow by the death of the Whitney Houston. On the first page (A1) of the New York Times newspaper, the lifestyle and career of the late musician dominated the page.

Written by Jon Pareles and his counterpart Adam Nagourney the two authors expressed sociological issues like drug abuse as the major social issue, which contributed to the Whitney’s downfall. In addition to giving a precise of the aforementioned story, the next discussion also elaborates the story by relating it to sociological imagination and the concept of social perspectives.

Before the death of Whitney Houston, cocaine and marijuana are some of the hard drugs, which dominated her life. Consequently, her marriage broke down due to constant abuse from the husband. Intuitively, Pareles and Nagourney highlight drug abuse as the main social factor, which contributed to the suffering of Whitney especially during her musical career lifetime.

Sociological imagination is the aspect of shifting social issues from personal perspective to the societal level. The established social values, cultural practices and other laws play a major role in shaping the life and behavior of an individual. Both personal issues and social forces may push an individual to adopt a certain behavior.

Therefore, the essence of sociological imagination is to solve personal social problems at a higher level in the society. Incase of a social problem like drug abuse, an individual may decide to stop the vice because of its negative impact to the children or neighbors.

The aspect of sociological imagination motivates an individual to view social problems like drug abuse, homicides and abusive marriages as elements that slow the development of the society and not necessarily the family or the individual.

The definition of sociological imagination relates well with the issue of drug addiction in the life of Whitney Houston. As a public figure, both her career and marriage life dwindled immediately after she started abusing marijuana, cocaine and alcohol.

Consequently, besides ending her marriage the issue also tainted her public image especially as a renowned musician. Furthermore, she ended up becoming a single mother. Therefore, as a public figure, a source of inspiration and a mentor to both her fans and the youths she failed.

Drug and alcohol abuse are major social issues that affect the American society especially among the celebrities. Besides enlisting, hard drugs and alcohol as the major social issues, the society categorizes them as social problems because of their negative impact to the public.

Furthermore, there is speculation that the death of Whitney may have been due to the use of both alcohol and antidepressants. Thus, from the analysis of the Houston’s story, the use of alcohol, cocaine and marijuana had a profound negative impact on both her personal and public lives. As controversial problems in her life, drugs, alcohol and eventual death of Whitney Houston categorize the story as a social issue.

Sociology is build on three major social perspectives namely, functionalism, conflict theory and interactionism. The functional theory identifies structural features like family and schools, which work interactively to shape the society. According to the theory, there are norms and values, which the society has established and all individuals have specific roles to play.

The functionalism theory advocates for social balance through definition of each person’s role. Secondly, the interactionism theory advocates for societal intermingling. The theory cites communication structures, collective responsibility and consensus as the aspects, which lead to a stable society.

Individuals should willingly interact, discuss and develop decisions in a collective manner for societal stability. Therefore, all individuals in the society should play a vital in establishing societal laws. In brief, the interactionism theory advocates for social cohesiveness.

Finally, the conflict theory cites inequality, wealth disparity and struggle for power as some of the elements, which, have contributed, to social conflicts. At the societal level, individuals have different beliefs and ambitions therefore, conflict ensue due to the diverse personal views.

The next discussion expounds on the analysis of Whitney Houston’s, issue of drug and alcohol abuse and eventual death in relation to the sociological theories. According to the functionalism theory, social structures like family, religion and other institutions play an important role in shaping the character and behavior of an individual.

For instance, Whitney started her musical career through church and her mother’s mentorship. However, after venturing into secular music she became a celebrity and famous. Consequently, she had a lot of money at her disposal and with nobody to guide her constantly; she embarked on drug and alcohol abuse.

Furthermore, the breakdown of her marriage also contributed to depression and eventual abuse of drugs. Therefore, marriage, church and family are major social institutions, which shape the behavior of an individual. However, when Whitney Houston disconnected herself from these institutions she forgot about the acceptable social values and behavior.

Secondly, the conflict theory cites that all individuals are constantly struggling to achieve their personal ambitions. Eventually due to power and wealth disparities, the society has produced structures like hierarchism. In addition, everybody in the society struggles to keep her position.

Therefore, in relation to the case study, although Whitney Houston had to embark on fighting drug and alcohol addiction she had personal problems that she kept to herself. Furthermore, she had not confided in anybody about her emotional and psychological problems therefore leaving her death as a mystery.

Although she was emotionally imbalanced, she struggled to fit in her class of celebrity by turning up for Grammy awards preparation. Thus, according to the conflict theory, each person has either internal forces or social problems that control their behavior or actions, which may motivate them to use drugs, alcohol and other substances of abuse.

Finally, the interactionalism theory cites communication as the pivot point in the stability of a society and more so an individual. Although Whitney Houston publicized her issues with drugs, alcohol addiction and eventual dissolution of her marriage, she died abruptly.

Nobody even her family members could comment on the cause of her death. Therefore, her death may have been due to communication breakdown. If she had discussed or interacted with other people about her social or health problem then the cause of her death would not be a mystery as the situation is currently.

In brief, the society shapes the behavior and character of an individual. America is one of the nations in, which drug and alcohol abuse among the celebrities/musicians is on the rise.

Therefore, how could Whitney Houston be an exception? Analytically, the application of the social theories especially the functionalism and interactionalism theory shows that sociologists and other stakeholders should encourage people to engage in social activities in order to control their behavior.

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1. IvyPanda. "Social issue: the death of the Whitney Houston." April 6, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/social-issue-the-death-of-the-whitney-houston/.


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IvyPanda. "Social issue: the death of the Whitney Houston." April 6, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/social-issue-the-death-of-the-whitney-houston/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Social issue: the death of the Whitney Houston." April 6, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/social-issue-the-death-of-the-whitney-houston/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Social issue: the death of the Whitney Houston'. 6 April.

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