Dissertation Abstracts

Spaces of substance use

Author: Brotherhood, Angelina , angelina.brotherhood@gmail.com
Department: Institute of Sociology
University: University of Vienna, Austria
Supervisor: Prof. Christoph Reinprecht
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: substance use , space , practice theory , health promotion
Areas of Research: Deviance and Social Control , Health , Youth


My PhD explores the socio-spatial dimension of substance use, drawing upon theoretical notions of space from fields such as sociology, environmental psychology and human geography. These conceptualise space not as static and pre-determined, but as dynamic: constantly being (re)produced through the interplay of human activity and matter. In recent years, a spatial turn has begun in the drugs field, with authors arguing that substance use should be seen as embedded within specific orderings of (not necessarily drug-related) objects and meanings. Such a perspective is thought to allow a deeper understanding of why and how substance use occurs; going beyond traditional deficit models of use to highlighting functions of substance use and how space is implicated therein. At the same time, it is interesting to note the development of spatial strategies to prevent substance use and related harms (e.g. smoking bans, drug consumption rooms). My research is therefore less concerned with where people use substances, but seeks to understand how substance use intentions and practices produce certain spaces, and vice versa. In other words, how do people make sense of the spaces in which they consume (or do not consume) legal or illegal substances? Empirically, semi-structured interviews and repertory grids with non-dependent users will be used to explore these questions. It is hoped that this study will add to our understanding of the meaning and practices relating to substance use, and offer new insights into possible health promotion strategies.

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