Published online by Cambridge University Press: 10 March 2022
Part One of the book begins from the premise that objects of government are discursively constructed. The meaning of female illicit drug use is not self-evident or an objective entity but is constructed in different discourses (e.g. prohibition, medical or welfare) and takes different forms. Drawing on Foucault's concepts of discourse and governmentality, the ‘problem’ of women's illicit drug use is understood as a realm brought into existence by government itself. As Foucault (1972)  argues, discourses are formed by ‘systems of dispersion’ or ‘forms of division’ (Foucault 1972,  p. 37) which ‘systematically form the objects of which they speak’ (Foucault 1972, p. 49). It is assumed that in order to gain an understanding of how women who use illicit drugs are governed, it is necessary to examine the discourses that define, categorise and differentiate them from others. It is these discourses that help to identify women's illicit drug use as a ‘social problem’ and make women who use illicit drugs amenable to governmental intervention and regulation.
This approach permits an analysis of illicit drug use and female (and male) illicit drug users that does not presume a chronological development of ideas advancing closer to the truth. Rather, it is one that allows for the exploration of the underlying points of differentiation, exclusion and contradiction in constructions of drug use and female users, as well as some of the material effects of these structuring principles. The accuracy and validity of particular constructions of drug taking and female drug users is not questioned. Rather, the underlying demarcations that condition the different constructions of drug use and women drug users are located. In this process, the space is revealed for alternative understandings of drug use and women’s constructions of resistant identities.
Part One is comprised of two chapters investigating ‘authoritative discourse’ on female illicit drug use. Academic and drug policy discourses are understood as ‘authoritative discourses’ which construct and situate female drug users identities in particular ways. These discourses produce a particular network of material relations which involve the production of various material effects on the lives of female illicit drug users (i.e. their subjection to various forms of state intervention).
- The Governance of Female Drug UsersWomen's Experiences of Drug Policy, pp. 15 - 16Publisher: Bristol University PressPrint publication year: 2015