Accepted Paper:

Anthropology of drug policy: how does it fit into already existing drug policy research?   


Vibeke Asmussen Frank (Ã…rhus University)

Paper short abstract:

The paper discusses some characteristics of an anthropology of drug policy. Focus is on how an anthropology of drug policy differ in perspective from drug policy studies in general, and, therefore, in the kind of knowledge that an anthropology of drug policy produces.

Paper long abstract:

Drug policy studies forms part of for example criminological research or policy studies in general. These different knowledge traditions also colour the perspective and methodological aspects of drug policy studies: drug policy research is often reduced to control policy focusing mainly on legislation and the more formal aspects of drug control; and, it is mainly quantitative studies based on documentary evidence, such as numbers of seizures, prosecutions, sentencing, and arrests in relation to drug offences, as well as police activity in relation to drugs. The present paper takes a point of departure in the perspective of both recent and classic drug policy studies, in order to discuss how an anthropology of drug policy can contribute and expand this field of study. In general, the argument will be that an anthropology of drug policy covers drug policy in the broadest sense, including both the formal aspects of legislation and how it is constructed, as well as how legislation is implemented in practice, e.g. how policing is conducted, treatment is formed, prevention is carried out, etc. Examples from a study of drug treatment in Danish prisons and a study of cannabis policy in Denmark forms the empirical examples of discussing how an anthropology of drug policy can contribute with new insights and new perspectives to the field of drug policy studies in general.

Panel W020
The anthropology of drug policy: a way to diversify the field of drug studies?