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Drugs, Risks and Freedoms: Illicit Drug 'Use' and 'Misuse' under Neo-Liberal Governance

CRIME PREVENTION AND COMMUNITY SAFETY: NEW DIRECTIONS, G. Hughes, E. McLaughlen, eds., pp. 279-296, Open University Press: Milton Keynes, 2002

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 09/120

21 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2009  

Pat O'Malley

The University of Sydney Law School

Date Written: October 21, 2009

Abstract

Harm minimisation became a leading strategy of drug policy in Britain, Australia and New Zealand during the 1980s and 1990s. This paper maps out the ways in which harm minimisation not only was based on risk calculation, but also reflected preferred subjectifications and technologies of certain forms of neo-liberal politics. In particular, ‘drug users’ (as opposed to 'drug addicts') came to be imagined as rational choice-makers who needed to provided with accurate information about the medical, economic and social risks associated with drug taking. Imagined in this way, they could be enlisted into the program, to work 'on their own behalf' as active subjects rather than passive victims.

Keywords: drugs, harm minimisation, risk, neo-liberalism

JEL Classification: K10, K14, K30

Suggested Citation

O'Malley, Pat, Drugs, Risks and Freedoms: Illicit Drug 'Use' and 'Misuse' under Neo-Liberal Governance (October 21, 2009). CRIME PREVENTION AND COMMUNITY SAFETY: NEW DIRECTIONS, G. Hughes, E. McLaughlen, eds., pp. 279-296, Open University Press: Milton Keynes, 2002 ; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 09/120. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1491944

Pat O'Malley (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

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

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