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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Researching Drugs and Alcohol in Society (PGSP11262)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Course typeStandard AvailabilityAvailable to all students
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) Credits20
Home subject areaPostgrad (School of Social and Political Studies) Other subject areaNone
Course website None Taught in Gaelic?No
Course descriptionThis course introduces students to themes and challenges in social research on drug and alcohol use. Students will explore key conceptual, ethical and methodological issues in researching all forms of psychoactive drug use, including illicit drugs, alcohol, smoking and psychopharmaceuticals. They will have an opportunity to conduct their own research and reflect on their research practice. The course is paired with the undergraduate 'Sociology of Intoxication' course so students will have an introduction to relevant themes and debates in the drug and alcohol field.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs None
Information for Visiting Students
Displayed in Visiting Students Prospectus?Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Summary of Intended Learning Outcomes
By the end of the course, students will be able to:

* Understand the patterns and practices of drug, alcohol and tobacco use in the UK and internationally.
* Examine the terms in which some kinds of substance use becomes a 'public problem'
* Examine the strengths and weaknesses of various sociological, psychological, and anthropological approaches to and theories of substance use, including: medicalisation, risk, stigma, 'nudge' and social constructionism.
* Identify key conceptual problems and ethical challenges in research in this field
* Critically assess research methods used in this field and evaluate research findings
* Identify implications for practice and policy
* Conduct their own research on a related topic of their choice

Assessment Information
The course will be assessed by an online research journal or 'blog'. Students will make four entries of 700 words each reporting on small research tasks set in the course. Blogs may be shared with other students to allow peer comment and discussion. Blog topics may include: reflecting on a seminar discussion; reflecting on the strengths and weaknesses of peer research; reporting on ethnographic fieldwork; issues in process evaluation; interviewing practitioners. Students can choose their own tasks as well as following those set by the course organiser. At the end of the course students will submit a 2,500 word essay reflecting on key issues in the light of their own research.
Special Arrangements
Additional Information
Academic description Not entered
Syllabus Students may attend a one hour lecture which is shared with the undergraduate 'Sociology of Intoxication' course. This will give them a background in key theoretical and empirical issues in drug research. The main themes covered here are:

* Drugs and alcohol as objects of material culture
* Cultural practices and rituals in drug and alcohol use
* Construction and management of drug and alcohol problems
* Addiction and alcoholism
* Pleasure and the experience economy
* Postmodern governance of drugs and their users
* Criminalisation and trafficking
* Risk, vulnerability and stigma
* Medicalisation and enhancement

In addition they will be required to attend seminars solely for postgraduates on the topics of:

* Talking to users
* Ethnography and drug research
* Issues in population surveys and epidemiology
* Cross-cultural research
* Evaluation research
* Ethical and political issues in drug research
* Drug and alcohol policy and the research agenda

Further topic based seminars to be decided by the class and course organiser.

Transferable skills Students will learn skills in:
Policy formation and criticism
Assessing research for practice relevance Researching with hard to reach groups Assessing research ethics Research writing
Reading list Adler, P.A. (1993), Wheeling and Dealing: An Ethnography of an Upper-Level Dealing and Smuggling Community, New York, Columbia University.

Bancroft, A (2011) 'Memory, embodied cognition and intoxication problems', in press.

Becker, H. (1967), 'History, Culture and Subjective Experiences: An Exploration of the Social Bases of Drug-Induced Experiences', Journal of Health and Social Behaviour, 8, 3, 163-176.

Bergschmidt, V.B. (2004), 'Pleasure, Power and Dangerous Substances: Applying Foucault to the Study of 'Heroin Dependence' in Germany', Anthropology & Medicine, 11, 1, 59-73.

Bourgois, P. (1995), In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio, Cambridge, Cambridge University.

Greenslit, N. (2006), 'Dep®ession and Consumption: Psychopharmaceuticals, Branding and New Identity Practices', Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, 29, 477-501.

Maccoun, R, and P Reuter. 2008. "The implicit rules of evidence-based drug policy: A U.S. perspective." International Journal of Drug Policy 19:231-232.

Macleod, John, and Matthew Hickman. 2010. "How ideology shapes the evidence and the policy: what do we know about cannabis use and what should we do?." Addiction 105:1326-1330.

Muetzelfeldt, L., Kamboj, S. K., Rees, H., Taylor, J., Morgan, C., & Curran, H. (2008). 'Journey through the K-hole: Phenomenological aspects of ketamine use,' Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 95, 219-229.

Room, R. (1976), 'Ambivalence as a sociological explanation: the case of cultural explanations of alcohol problems', American Sociological Review, 41, 6, 1047-65.

Room, R. (1984), 'Alcohol and Ethnography: A Case of Problem Deflation?' Current Anthropology, 25, 2, 169-191 and Commentaries.

Stevens, Alex. 2008. "Weighing up Crime: The Overestimation of Drug-Related Crime." Contemporary Drug Problems 35:265.

Valverde, M. (1998), Diseases of the Will: Alcohol and the Dilemmas of Freedom, New York, Cambridge University Press.

Don H Zimmerman and D. Lawrence Wieder, "You Can't Help but Get Stoned: Notes on the Social Organization of Marijuana Smoking," Social Problems 25, no. 2 (December 1977): 198-207.
Study Abroad Not entered
Study Pattern Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Angus Bancroft
Tel: (0131 6)50 6642
Course secretaryMiss Jodie Fleming
Tel: (0131 6)51 5066
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