Normalisation re-visited: Drugs in Europe in the 21st century
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For nearly thirty years the normalisation perspective has enlivened academic discourse and seen ripples of influence go further into media, politics, and popular understandings of drugs. The normalisation thesis advanced the idea that for many young people drug use might be an unremarkable part of growing up rather than a sign of deep pathology, and a leisure option to be rationally selected alongside other hedonistic and somewhat edgy pursuits. While cannabis might be the drug most associated with normalised drug use, the normalisation perspective was also closely tied to a rave scene powered by synthetic stimulants
The social place of drugs goes beyond factors related to individuals and their access to drugs as well as their tendencies to try drugs or to use them more frequently. Normalisation also relates to the extent that those who do not use drugs tolerate various forms of drug use amongst their friends, acquaintances, colleagues and family members as well as wider society. How are drug talked about in the news media, on social media, in films, on Netflix productions and in politics, and how has since been changing in the last three decades? The early scholarship focused on the situation in the United Kingdom, subsequent research, including much that is contained in this book, has broadened its scope to understanding the social place of drug use across Europe.
This addition to the series of books produced by the European Society for Social Drug Research (ESSD) explores the social situation of drug use in Europe through a collection of chapters which feature both recent empirical research and essays theorising the status and nature of normalised drug use in Europe. While the original normalisation research told us how the status of drug use in the 1980s and 1990s was different to that of the 1960s and 1970s, this book adopts a critical and European focus to ask what has happened since then, moving the beyond the original centres of normalised drug use, and asking what normalisation means, and what the implications of this paradigm for understanding drug use might be.
James Morgan is Senior Lecturer of Psychology at London Metropolitan University, United Kingdom.
Thomas Friis Søgaard is Associate Professor at Aarhus University, Denmark.
Alfred Uhl is a Researcher at the at Sigmund Freud Private University, Austria.