Current approaches to drugs tend to be determined by medical and criminal visions that emerged over a century ago; the concepts of addiction, on the one hand, and drug control on the other, having imposed themselves as the unquestionable central notions surrounding drug issues and discourses. Pathologization and criminalization are the dominant perspectives on psychoactive drugs, and it is difficult to describe drug consumption in any terms other than those of medicine, or to conceive of regulation except in terms of control and eradication. Drugs and Culture presents other voices and understandings of drug issues, highlighting the socio-cultural features of drug use and regulation in modern societies. It examines the cultural dimensions of drugs and their regulation, with special attention to questions of how consumption of specific psychoactive substances becomes associated with particular social groups; the social dynamics involved in our coming to think of these phenomena as we do; and the factors that determine the political and policy responses to drug use. Adopting approaches from anthropology, sociology, history, political science and geopolitics to challenge the prevailing pathologization and criminalization of drug use, this book provides international and comparative perspectives on drug research, based on the latest research in Europe, the USA, the Middle East and Hong Kong.
'A welcome and refreshing alternative to dominant orthodoxies with their narrow focus on "risks" and "problems". Wide-ranging, insightful chapters from distinguished scholars open the mind to challenging perspectives, informed by humanities and social science research. These critiques call for better balanced, more realistic and compassionate policies.' Susanne MacGregor, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK 'Within drug war discourse, magical powers of "addiction" or "highjacking the brain" are attributed to psychoactive substances, and "drug use" tends to get interpreted as psychopathology or crime. Most drug use is neither, as the eminent scholars in this insightful collection show by bringing culture, meaning, and human practices back into the picture.' Craig Reinarman, University of California, Santa Cruz, USA ’…the well-written chapters and the variety of subjects and methods in this section and in the entire book offer some new and inventive views on aspects of drug use… Overall, the book is clearly aimed at researchers, adding to the existing body of knowledge and stimulating scholars to be critical about both processes and methods.’ Drugs and Alcohol Today