Published online by Cambridge University Press: 10 March 2022
This book is about the ways in which the governance of illicit drug use shapes female users’ lives. It examines how women drug users’ subjectivities, and hence their experiences, are shaped and regulated by drug policies. The construction of female users’ subjectivities in policy discourse and the impact the characteristics ascribed to them has on these women's experiences are explored. The insights are based on in-depth accounts from the perspectives of women users themselves. It is argued that in the regulation of illicit drug-using women, particular subjectivities are constructed which, in themselves, become part of the narrative sustaining women in their problematic drug use. It is suggested that women users experience drug policy as something that exacerbates their social and economic marginalisation, and contributes to their lives being plunged into further poverty, social and economic marginalisation.
At the same time, the book analyses the contradictory choices, adaptations and resistances of female users. Although women users internalise many of the negative constructions of themselves found in policy discourse, they also find ways to resist them. Their resistances are explored through an examination of the pleasurable and painful aspects of the women's drug use; drug use as a means of escape from oppressive social circumstances; the social inclusion and ‘belonging’ found in marginalisation; the agency, rationality and control wielded in the face of ‘chaos’; and the women's responses to the negative impacts of the treatment, welfare and criminal justice systems. In this process, I subvert popular misconceptions of women users that condition oppressive interventions, and hope to contribute to the formulation of drug policies based on empowerment, gender equity and social justice.
The rest of this chapter discusses the main theoretical schools of thought informing the arguments in the book, including feminist sociological perspectives, the work of Foucault on government, power and the subject, criminological and sociological theories of drug use, drug policy and the social order. Finally, it provides an outline of the book's contents.
The main concepts and arguments in this book draw on the theoretical works of Foucault and the concept of governmentality, in particular, the ‘art of government’ (Foucault, 2002 , p 201).
- The Governance of Female Drug UsersWomen's Experiences of Drug Policy, pp. 1 - 14Publisher: Bristol University PressPrint publication year: 2015