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

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 09-118

29 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2009  

Pat O'Malley

The University of Sydney Law School

Mariana Valverde

University of Toronto - Centre of Criminology

Date Written: October, 20 2009

Abstract

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

O'Malley, Pat and Valverde, Mariana, Pleasure, Freedom and Drugs: The Uses of ‘Pleasure’ in Liberal Governance of Drug and Alcohol Consumption (October, 20 2009). Sociology, Vol. 38, No. 1, pp. 25-42, 2004; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 09-118. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1491888

Pat O'Malley (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

Mariana Valverde

University of Toronto - Centre of Criminology ( email )

Robarts Library
130 St. George Street, Room 8001
Toronto, ON M5S 1A5
Canada
416-978-6438 x.229 (Phone)
416-978-4195 (Fax)

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