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The ideological drug problem
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Social Research on Alcohol and Drugs (SoRAD).
2013 (English)In: Drugs and Alcohol Today, ISSN 1745-9265, Vol. 13, no 1, 9-19 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose - This article investigates the ideological visions embedded in the political formulation of the Swedish drug problem and in the bureaucratic management of the Swedish drug treatment services during the years 1960–2000.

Design/methodology/approach - The empirical basis for the analysis consists mainly of parliamentary material from the Swedish Parliament (403 parliamentary bills, 66 government bills, 198 parliamentary records, 14 government letters and 159 standing committee statements) as well as archival materials produced in the application process of 73 aspiring treatment homes from the years 1960–2001. The empirical material is partly analyzed from a theoretical understanding of political consensus as a doxa (Bourdieu, 1977) and political debate as permeated by naturalizing ideologies (Freeden, 2003; Eagleton, 2007).

Findings - The article examines drug consumption as a political problem and its ideological undertones. I show how drugs and drug consumption often have been subordinate in problem descriptions that have fulfilled other political purposes. Worries about politically radical youth, foreign religions or incomprehensible music have been understood as a drug problem. In the Swedish parliament the drug problem have been described in terms of capitalist class oppression, Americanism or cultural superficiality. Modernity, urbanization and industrialization have also been criticized in the name of the drug problem. In the treatment centres and within the ruling bureaucracy it was also elucidated that the drug problem was an ideological problem. The effective treatment method has been elusive, but the effective method has also played second fiddle in the choice of treatment solutions. Other values have been awarded, such as rural romanticism, Swedishness, solidarity and diligence. Individualism, Americanism and profit making have also been opposed within the ideological treatment sector. At the end of the research period such assessments however became subordinate to an overarching ideological quest to make substance abuse treatment a market among others.

Originality/value - The analyzing of naturalized and apparently self-evident ideology as part of the rational argument rather than it’s very opposite would be useful both for further research on the topic as well as for deepening the democratic discussions on, for instance, evidence-based methods within the drug treatment services.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 13, no 1, 9-19 p.
Keyword [en]
Sweden, 20th century, history, drug problem, drug treatment, ideology
National Category
Research subject
History; Social Work
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-87422DOI: 10.1108/17459261311310808OAI: diva2:603466
Vad är vård? Den svenska narkomanvården som politiskt slagfält, 1968-2000 (FAS 2005-0572)Centre of Excellence: Exclusion and Inclusion in the Late Welfare State: the Case of Alcohol and Drugs (FAS 2006-1523)
FAS, Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research, 2005-0572FAS, Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research, 2006-1523
Available from: 2013-02-06 Created: 2013-02-06 Last updated: 2013-04-03Bibliographically approved

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Edman, Johan
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