Drug law reform, performativity and the politics of childhood

Flacks, S. 2018. Drug law reform, performativity and the politics of childhood. International Journal of Drug Policy. 51, pp. 56-66. doi:10.1016/j.drugpo.2017.10.003

TitleDrug law reform, performativity and the politics of childhood
AuthorsFlacks, S.
Abstract

Children are critical to debates about drug law reform. For both advocates of liberalisation and, especially, defenders of prohibition, the protection of children is an important rhetorical device in pressing for, or resisting, change. However, the privileged position of minors within such discussions, or talk about drugs in general, has rarely been explored in any depth in either drug and alcohol studies or legal research. Drawing on scholarship on performativity, and particularly John Law's work on 'collateral realities', this article will consider how constructs such as childhood and drugs are 'produced' and '(re)made' in such discourses. Through analysis of legal measures, policy documents/statements submitted to the UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS) in 2016, and scientific discussion, it will be argued that such 'realities' include the constitution of the child as the logical victim of drugs (and the natural beneficiary or casualty of reform), and the enactment of drugs as an inherent threat to children. It is suggested that drug policy research needs to pay attention to age as a social construct and cultural category, and that a critical awareness of the relevance of age in policy discourse is as necessary as, for example, race, class or gender. Moreover, attendance to the ontological politics of constructs such as 'childhood' and 'drugs' is important if law and policy measures are to account for young people's agency.

KeywordsDrugs, children, law, performativity, Foucault
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
Journal citation51, pp. 56-66
ISSN0955-3959
Year2018
PublisherElsevier
Accepted author manuscriptIJDP_final.pdf
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1016/j.drugpo.2017.10.003
Publication dates
Published in printJan 2018
Published05 Dec 2017
LicenseCC BY-NC-ND 4.0

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