Colleagues at Deakin University (Australia) have chosen a classic text for their first discussion as hosts of the Qualitative Methods Journal Club, all about the construction of substance use ‘problems’ and the people who have them.

Socio-economic and political changes in the late 19th century (e.g. industrialisation, class upheaval, changes in gender relations, immigration) intersected with the growing legitimacy of the medical professional to give birth to the figure of the ‘addict’.

For their first contribution to the Qualitative Methods Journal Club, Dr Renae Fomiatti, Dr Kiran Pienaar, Dr Kyja Noack-Lundberg, and Dr Ashleigh Haw from Deakin University chose to discuss Gerda Reith’s 2004 article, “Consumption and its discontents: Addiction, identity and the problems of freedom”.

Read their summary and discussion, where they talk through how Foucault influenced Reith’s work, the value of ‘genealogy’ as an analytic lens, the medical and moral convenience of individualising substance use problems, and how assumptions about addiction as an individual disorder underpin drug policy today.

Original article: Consumption and its discontents: Addiction, identity and the problems of freedom. By Gerda Reith. Published in The British Journal of Sociology (2004).

by Natalie Davies

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