Knowledge, embodiment and neo-liberal drug policy

Robin Bunton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Contemporary social policy on drugs is centrally concerned with ensuring the orderly reproduction of the social life in the face of rapid social transformation. This paper examines some recent changes in the relationships of welfare and makes observations about the principles underlying contemporary European drug policy, with a particular concern for governability of drug users. Expert knowledge is argued to play an important role in reconstructing the late-modern human agency through a focus on the intoxicated body. Contemporary drug policy is viewed as part of a set of discourses, norms, social practices and techniques that regulate the quality of the social life of a population, its health and security. These discourses and practices are related to a particular form of rationality specific to neo-libralism found in the UK, in Europe and in other Western societies. While subject to new forms of governance, it is argued that contemporary intoxicated subjectivity also falls under the influence of non specialist, everyday knowledge, often contradicting the rationale of neo-liberal governance of drug use.
Original languageEnglish
JournalContemporary Drug Problems
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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