Recently Published — “Harm reduction and the ethics of drug use: contemporary techniques of self-governance”

Dr Margaret Pereira and Professor John Scott from the School of Justice, Faculty of Law, have co-authored an article recently published in the journal Health Sociology Review titled “Harm reduction and the ethics of drug use: contemporary techniques of self-governance.”

Abstract: Drawing on Foucault’s conceptualisation of power, this paper examines public health as a distinctly modern regime of governance. An account of the historical regulation of drug use is traced in order to examine socio-historical shifts and lines of continuity in contemporary technologies of harm reduction. Using qualitative interview data, we examined practices of power in the context of contemporary drug use, including self-governance using techniques of monitoring, self-management and self-tracking. Participants’ accounts revealed that they were encouraged to self-govern their drug use through a variety of reformist technologies that are embedded in harm-reduction programs. It is argued that participants’ subjectivity is formed at the intersection of authoritative governance and self-governance, through ethical practices of the self which have emerged from disciplinary health practices, and incorporate the body as the site of power. We illustrate this by drawing a distinction between hygienist and sanitationistpractices of public health. These governmental practices, which are embedded in public health programs, encourage people who use drugs to transform themselves into moral citizens, aligning their ethical practices with governing interests.

To access the full article, click here.

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