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Drug users are typically portrayed as worthless slackers, burdens on society, and just plain useless—culturally, morally, and economically. By contrast, this book argues that the social construction of some people as useless is in fact extremely useful to other people. Leading medical anthropologists Merrill Singer and J. Bryan Page analyze media representations, drug policy, and underlying social structures to show what industries and social sectors benefit from the criminalization, demonization, and even popular glamorization of addicts. Synthesizing a broad range of key literature and advancing innovative arguments about the social construction of drug users and their role in contemporary society, this book is an important contribution to public health, medical anthropology, popular culture, and related fields.
About the Author
Merrill Singer is Professor in the Department of Anthropology and a Senior Research Scientist at Center for Health, Intervention, and Prevention at the University of Connecticut. He is also on the faculty of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS at Yale University. Over his career, his research and writing have focused on HIV/AIDS in highly vulnerable and disadvantaged populations, illicit drug use and drinking behavior, community and structural violence, health disparities, and the political ecology of health. His current research focuses on the nature and impact of both syndemics (interacting epidemics) and pluralea (intersecting ecocrises) on health. Dr. Singer has published over 235 articles and book chapters and has authored or edited 24 books. He is a recipient of the Rudolph Virchow Prize, the George Foster Memorial Award for Practicing Anthropology, the AIDS and Anthropology Paper Prize, the Prize for Distinguished Achievement in the Critical Study of North America, and the Solon T. Kimball Award for Public and Applied Anthropology.
J. Bryan Page is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Miami. His research, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and National Institute of Mental Health, focuses on the consumption of drugs, particularly patterns of marijuana smoking, poly-drug consumption, self-injection, crack use, and sex trade. He has published extensively in leading scholarly journals and is author, with Merrill Singer, of Comprehending Drug Use (Rutgers University Press 2010). His recent work has emphasized the value of on-the-scene perspectives in the study of human behaviors such as formation of couples, seeking of health care, the treatment of depression, and uptake of tobacco use.