Reinarman: Drug Scares

Craig Reinarman. 1994. "The Social Construction of Drug Scares" in Constructions of Deviance: Social Power, Context, and lnteraction Adler & Adler, eds. Wadsworth Publishing Co.

Author Outline

  1. Introduction
  2. Drug scares and drug laws
  3. Toward a culturally-specific theory of drug scares

According to Reinarman, 7 components of drug scare

  1. A Kernel of Truth
  2. Media Magnification
  3. Politico-Moral Entrepreneurs
  4. Professional Interest Groups
  5. Historical Context of Conflict Linking a Form of Drug Use to a "Dangerous Class"
  6. Scapegoating a Drug for a Wide Array of Public Problems

Functions of drug scares for various stakeholders:

  1. can help elites increase the social control of groups perceived as threatening (Duster. 1970)
  2. establish one class's moral code as dominant (Gusfield. 1963)
  3. bolster a bureaucracy's sagging fiscal fortunes (Dickson. 1968)
  4. mobilize voter support (Reinarman and Levine.1989)

By why so resonant?

  1. Vocabulary of attribution that fits with cultural ideals of blaming individuals rather than situations
  2. "Temperance Culture": US history growing out of protestant/capitalist emphasis on self control makes "losing control" morally bad
  3. On foundation of temperance culture a postmodern mass consumption culture

Reinarman wants to argue that the kind of capitalism that developed in US requires a constant expansion of self-indulgence and that this interacts with the temperance culture to create a contradiction/strain which periodically breaks out in drug scares.