Pleasure, Freedom and Drugs: The Uses of ‘Pleasure’ in Liberal Governance of Drug and Alcohol Consumption
Sociology, Vol. 38, No. 1, pp. 25-42, 2004
29 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2009
Date Written: October, 20 2009
The paper explores the ways in which discourses of pleasure are deployed strategically in official commentaries on drug and alcohol consumption. Pleasure as a warrantable motive for, or descriptor of, drug and alcohol consumption appears to be silenced the more that consumption appears problematic for liberal government. Tracing examples of this from the 18th century to the present, it is argued that discourses of 'pleasure' are linked to discourses of reason and freedom, so that problematic drug consumption appears both without reason (for example 'bestial') and unfree (for example 'compulsive'), and thus not as 'pleasant'. In turn, changes in this articulation of pleasure, drugs and freedom can be linked with shifts in the major forms taken by liberal governance in the past two centuries, as these constitute freedom differently.
Keywords: drugs, pleasure, governmentality, excitement, addiction, craving
JEL Classification: K10, K14, K30
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation