Parker et al 1998 normalisation thesis


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Edition 2nd Edition. First Published Imprint Routledge. Pages pages. Subjects Social Sciences. Back to book.

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Among those respondents who had ever tried party drugs, approximately two thirds Over two thirds Respondents were next asked if they had consumed, or intended to consume, a party drug on the night of the survey: over a third Within this group, just under half Given these results, it was perhaps unsurprising to find that the majority Abstainers were also asked if they thought they would try a party drug at some point in the future: There was also broad agreement in relation to the experience of insomnia and nausea.

As noted in Fig. Somewhat greater differences of opinion were recorded in relation to this proposition, as noted in Fig. Party drugs and normalization. Party drugs and problems with patrons. Drugs and normalization C. Almost all survey participants reported drinking alcohol on a regular basis and just over half reported the use of illicit or party drugs, most in the month prior to the survey.

Whilst only a minority of young people in the present study described such patterns of use, it is precisely this kind of poly-drug use that is most commonly associated with acute physical and psychological harms, thus suggesting the need for more concerted harm reduction efforts in this age group see also VDCPC, The majority use such substances themselves and they see their friends using them.

The demographic characteristics of this sample further bear out this contention. Indeed, these demographics accord with an important dimension of the normalization thesis. Conversely, only 4. I would therefore argue on the basis of all presented data that the present study provides further evidence that drug use is becoming increasingly normalized within youth populations in Australia. Whilst this research is clearly too narrowly focused, and the sample size too small to permit more sweeping and definitive conclusions, it is important to note that these findings are broadly consistent with other Australian data see AIHW, ; PDPC, Like the present study, all recent youth drug use surveys in Australia reveal widespread use of illicit drugs among Australians aged between 16 and Indeed, this emerges as a key point of difference in this Melbourne research.

Whilst the young people in this sample report lifetime rates of alcohol and cannabis consumption broadly in keeping with the VYADS findings and the AIHW National Household Survey data, they are roughly twice as likely to have experimented with ecstasy, speed and cocaine. The young people in this Melbourne study are also much more likely to report the recent use of any drug, with the exception of cannabis and alcohol. This greater prevalence of ecstasy, speed and cocaine use compared to the Victorian average is likely attributable to the research setting.

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This cultural milieu has long been associated with extensive drug use see Malbon, and it seems reasonable to argue that many young people are first introduced to these drugs upon entering this community and attending their first big clubbing event. These venues attract a broad cross section of young people from a diverse range of backgrounds, just like the young people who participated in the present study.

Indeed, this normalization reveals something of the most significant of recent shifts in youth cultures in Australia. Yet, these changes are as much the product of broad cultural, social, economic and political shifts as they are reflective of narrower, more idiosyncratic, shifts in individual attitudes Blackman, ; Moore, To restrict the critical discussion of the normalization thesis to a narrow argument over the generalizability of available epidemiological data — to an assessment of how many young people are using illicit drugs and where — is thus to miss the most significant cultural dimensions of this work.

The normalization thesis is of considerable heuristic value precisely because it attempts to capture something of the shifting cultural meanings of the social practice of drug use. These broader social and cultural processes must be understood if more effective drug prevention and harm reduction strategies are to be developed. Conclusions This problem of harm reduction is perhaps the obvious corollary of the suggestion that illicit drug use is becoming increasingly normalized within many Australian youth cultures.

The research data presented here have a number of significant implications for such efforts. To begin with, if party drug use is indeed becoming normalized within Australian youth cultures, then one might reasonably adduce that existing approaches to drug education and prevention policy have been somewhat less than effective in their stated aims see also Duff, Whilst ostensibly, Australian drug policy is already committed to such harm reduction policies, the reality in terms of government expenditure and support for harm reduction programs and agencies has often been quite different.

One might argue that the real challenge here lies in finding ways to influence the ways in which young people consume different drugs in order to begin encouraging the adoption of more moderate use behaviours. To transform these patterns of use one must begin to challenge the various cultures and norms that underpin them. Indeed, it is in influencing and transforming these norms that all existing harm reduction efforts should be oriented. Well designed harm reduction programs have been especially effective in Australia in changing the ways people use various opioid drugs, largely through challenging and transforming the norms that have long underpinned the culture of this heroin use in Australia, such as the sharing of needles and other injecting paraphernalia see Southgate et al.

It is time that similar strategies were developed in this country in relation to the use of other drugs. With more specific reference to the use of party drugs, the next generation of harm reduction strategies must focus on challenging the ways in which these drugs are used, particularly the tendency to use these drugs in combination with other licit and illicit substances.

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This will require a willingness to experiment with a broad range of research methodologies in the development of an effective evidence base to guide future policy directions. As the use of these drugs continues to grow, policy makers will also need to consider some quite radical policy strategies. This work should also go some way towards shifting the broader culture of drug use in ways that valorise more moderate use whilst cautioning against excess.

Acknowledgements I would like to acknowledge the assistance and support of the various club owners, managers and bar staff who participated in this research. This gracious and accommodating assistance greatly facilitated the collection of data.

Has drug use among young people become normalised? - GCSE Sociology - Marked by vivimeala.cf

I must also acknowledge the tireless work of my research assistants, particularly Ms. Marita Scealy who put many long hours into data collection and was heavily involved in much of the data analysis. Australian social trends— Canberra: ABS. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Blackman, S.

Chilling out: The cultural politics of substance consumption, youth and drug policy.


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London: McGraw-Hill. Bonomo, Y.

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Adolescent substance use. Hamilton, T. Ritter Eds. Melbourne: Oxford University Press. Duff, C. Academic discussion about cultural processes of normalisation is relevant in the Australian context, where the prevalence of illicit drug use among young adults is comparable to the UK. Sixty scenesters were involved in participant observation over 18 months, and a subset of 25 participated in semi-structured, in-depth interviews. This thesis argues that the values associated with particular ATS practices are more nuanced and contested than have been depicted within accounts of normalised drug use.

Analysis in this thesis is framed by exploration of the negotiation of dual identities claimed by young adults in this study. I examine how negotiating the uncertain parameters of these identities, and occupying a position within and between these social fields results in complexities, tensions and nuances in drug practice that were continually negotiated. Two sub-arguments are pursued. First, I argue that the negotiation of drug use that scenesters considered to be acceptable and also pleasurable was complicated by the beliefs and values that were negotiated during the performance of scenester identity.


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  • Despite the negative associations of ecstasy, it was nonetheless regarded as a fun and pleasurable drug by many. The main argument presented here is that the cultural values attributed to ecstasy use were unsettled and negotiated in flexible ways.

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    Analysis explores how, while use of dexies was casual, understandings of dexies and the ways scenesters rationalised their use, complicated understandings of drugrelated pleasure and harm. This analysis contributes to nuanced understandings of recreational drug practices.

    The second sub-argument presented in this thesis is that the stigmatisation of drug use in the community continues to destabilise the expression of recreational drug practice even within a network of recreational illicit drug users. I examine how the status of meth smoking as a recreational drug practice was uncertain and contested within the network.

    Analysis is contextualised by public discourse emphasising the addictive properties of the drug and its association with personal degradation. I explore two themes. Second, inconsistent views about whether meth smoking was social or controlled, and reassessment of involvement by users, exposed the instability of the values associated with recreational style use among scenesters.

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