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Preface

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 July 2013

Jim Orford
Affiliation:
University of Birmingham
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Summary

This book is exploratory. There is no single body of knowledge corresponding to power, powerlessness and addiction; I have had to make it up as I went along. The idea for this book merges two streams of thought which have dominated my career in psychology. One of those is addiction studies where power is scarcely ever explicitly referred to. The other is community psychology, for which power and powerlessness are central concepts. Writing this book has, therefore, served a personal purpose in uniting the two halves of my professional life which might otherwise remain disconnected. I might go further and argue that in order to explore the relationship between power and addiction it is necessary to bring together theory and research arising from different scientific traditions: on the one hand the biomedical, public health and epidemiological and on the other the social sciences. The former have dominated addiction studies while the latter have played a much lesser role. One feature of my earlier book on addiction, Excessive Appetites (Orford 2001), which left me dissatisfied was its emphasis on the individual and its relative lack of attention to the social. The present book is a partial attempt to put that right.

Although power is rarely mentioned when addiction is discussed, it had long occurred to me that power and powerlessness were never far below the surface and, once you were looking for them, they often appeared. The very concept of dependence, often used as a synonym for addiction, implies a loss of power. Indeed, acknowledging one's powerlessness is considered by Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step groups to be a requirement for recovery. The experience of family members and others closely affected by other people's addictions – something that my colleagues and I have made a special study of – can well be thought of as an experience of powerlessness. Once the focus moves beyond the individual and the family to consider the complex network of connections involved in the supply, legal or illicit, of substances and activities to which people become addicted, then the exercise of power and the creation and exploitation of the powerless are impossible to avoid. All those manifestations of power, overt or hidden, malignant or benign, and others, are discussed in the chapters which follow.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2013

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  • Preface
  • Jim Orford, University of Birmingham
  • Book: Power, Powerlessness and Addiction
  • Online publication: 05 July 2013
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139540971.001
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  • Preface
  • Jim Orford, University of Birmingham
  • Book: Power, Powerlessness and Addiction
  • Online publication: 05 July 2013
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139540971.001
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Preface
  • Jim Orford, University of Birmingham
  • Book: Power, Powerlessness and Addiction
  • Online publication: 05 July 2013
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139540971.001
Available formats
×