#mybrainmychoice: Why is the analysis of media coverage on drug users a relevant research topic?
Liviu Alexandrescu: As we can see well and beyond the scope of drug policy, how public discourse frames various events and conditions unfolding in the news cycle has consequences in terms of how the social issues framing them are eventually dealt with. This obviously matters for all manner of political and philosophical reasons relating to any democratic society’s responsibility to look after its most vulnerable. But even more so when it comes down to groups such as those deemed to be ‘problematic substance users’, who tend to be exposed to other vulnerabilities and forms of marginalization pertaining to low socio-economic status, racist policing and so on.
These have been groups historically stigmatized and subjected to various forms of symbolic* and physical violence under the guise of the ‘war on drugs’ and prohibitionist drug laws, by governments, law enforcement and civil populations, often in complicity. Criminological research should aim to understand, as well as counteract the cultural mechanisms and persisting stigma that oftentimes legitimise the abuse they face.