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ERIC Number: EJ910384
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Feb
Pages: 7
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 31
ISSN: ISSN-0968-7637
Recovery from Problem Drug Use: What Can We Learn from the Dociologist Erving Goffman?
Neale, Joanne; Nettleton, Sarah; Pickering, Lucy
Drugs: Education, Prevention & Policy, v18 n1 p3-9 Feb 2011
In this commentary, we critically review the contribution of the sociologist Erving Goffman (1922-1982) to understanding recovery from problem drug use. Previous research has indicated that drug users have a "spoiled identity" and must restore a "normal" or "unspoiled" identity in order to recover. This argument has been linked to Goffman's classic work "Stigma: Notes on the management of a spoiled identity" [1963, Harmondsworth: Penguin]. Despite its evident appeal, linking recovery to repairing a spoiled identity has a number of problems. These include the derogatory connotations of "spoiled", and the fact that the "momentary" spoiled identity that Goffman likely intended is easily lost to a more "totalizing" spoiled identity, from which it can be difficult for individuals to escape. Given such shortcomings, we consider how Goffman's broader dramaturgical work might contribute to our understanding of recovery processes. Dramaturgy, which focuses on the performative aspects of selfhood and the relational and situational nature of identity, suggests ways that individuals can work on their identity (and recovery) projects without over-prioritizing abstinence. We suggest that dramaturgy is more useful than the notion of repairing a spoiled identity for understanding and facilitating recovery. Nonetheless, it has limitations and other sociological perspectives provide fertile ground for future debate. (Contains 3 notes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A