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Empowered Communities: Science, Ideology and the Limits of Political Action
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Social Research on Alcohol and Drugs (SoRAD).ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8923-0870
2016 (English)In: Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, ISSN 1458-6126Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

AIMS: Against the background of an increased interest in community participation in political processes, the aim of this article is to critically examine how the “community” is constituted as a political entity in the Communities That Care drug prevention program.

METHOD: Through an examination of 13 publications written by the program developers of the program and other collaborators, I have analyzed the program’s theoretical foundation.

RESULTS: The program seeks to constitute the community as an expert community, drawing on the principles of prevention science in its decision making processes and thereby asserting the primacy of scientific reasoning in politics. Disagreement, otherwise regarded as the “essence” of democratic politics, is to be neutralized through the establishment of a common language based on prevention science. The program constitutes needs as existing independently of any culturally and politically informed interpretations and readily met by ready-tested, evidence-based interventions. By combining a consumer subject and an instrumental-rational subject, the program establishes a specific kind of democratic subject, expected to exert its choices on a market offering ready-made solutions to problems formulated outside of the community’s decision making processes.

CONCLUSION: The analysis points to a range of limitations and issues regarding how community empowerment and democratic participation are conceptualized in the program. By asserting the primacy of scientific reasoning in drug policy processes, the program sets limits to what counts as a political problem and which responses are deemed legitimate. This risks exerting significant closure on the ability of communities to speak in properly political terms.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016.
Keyword [en]
Drug prevention, community empowerment, prevention science, democracy, ideology
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-131151DOI: 10.1515/nsad-2016-0024OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-131151DiVA: diva2:936482
Available from: 2016-06-14 Created: 2016-06-14 Last updated: 2016-09-02
In thesis
1. Ideological Closure: Drug Prevention in a Post-political Society
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Ideological Closure: Drug Prevention in a Post-political Society
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this thesis is to critically examine drug prevention as a field of problematizations  – how drug prevention becomes established as a political technology within this field, how it connects to certain modes of governance, how and under which conditions it constitutes it’s problematic, the questions it asks,  it´s implications in terms of political participation and representation, the various bodies of knowledge through which it constitutes the reality upon which it acts, the limits it places on ways of being, questioning, and talking  in the world.

The main analyses have been conducted in four separate but interrelated articles. Each article addresses a specific dimension of drug prevention in order to get a grasp of how this field is organized. Article 1 examines the shift that has occurred in the Swedish context during the period 1981–2011 in how drugs have been problematized, what knowledge has grounded the specific modes of problematization and which modes of governance this has enabled. In article 2, the currently dominant scientific discipline in the field of drug prevention – prevention science – is critically examined in terms of how it constructs the “drug problem” and the underlying assumptions it carries in regard to reality and political governance. Article 3 addresses the issue of communities’ democratic participation in drug prevention efforts by analyzing the theoretical foundations of the Communities That Care prevention program. The article seeks to uncover how notions of community empowerment and democratic participation are constructed, and how the “community” is established as a political entity in the program. The fourth and final article critically examines the Swedish Social and Emotional Training (SET) program and the political implications of the relationship the program establishes between the subject and emotions.

The argument is made that, within the field of drug prevention, questions of political values and priorities in a problematic way are decoupled from the political field and pose a significant problem in terms of the possibilities to engage in democratic deliberation. Within this field of problematizations it becomes impossible to mobilize a politics against social injustice, poverty and inequality. At the same time, the scientific grounding of this mode of governing the drug “problem” acts to naturalize a specific – highly political – way of engaging with drugs.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Sociology, Stockholm University, 2016. 55 p.
Series
Stockholm studies in sociology, ISSN 0491-0885 ; 63
Keyword
Drug prevention, politics, knowledge, ideology
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-131156 (URN)978-91-7649-446-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-09-09, hörsal 2, hus A, Universitetsvägen 10 A, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2016-08-17 Created: 2016-06-14 Last updated: 2016-09-01Bibliographically approved

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Roumeliotis, Filip
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