Drug users are typically portrayed as worthless slackers, burdens on society, and just plain useless—culturally, morally, and economically. By contrast, this book argues that the social construction of some people as useless is in fact extremely useful to other people. Leading medical anthropologists Merrill Singer and J. Bryan Page analyze media representations, drug policy, and underlying social structures to show what industries and social sectors benefit from the criminalization, demonization, and even popular glamorization of addicts. Synthesizing a broad range of key literature and advancing innovative arguments about the social construction of drug users and their role in contemporary society, this book is an important contribution to public health, medical anthropology, popular culture, and related fields.
"In The Social Value of Drug Addicts: Uses of the Useless, Merrill Singer and J. Bryan Page provide a sweeping analysis of popular representations of drug use and drug users in U.S. culture...In making such an offering, Merrill Singer and J. Bryan Page continue to cement their legacy as scholars who have tried to talk sense to us about our society’s most harmful habits of social distinction."— Jennifer J. Carroll, American Anthropologist