eISSN: 1689-3530
ISSN: 0867-4361
Alcoholism and Drug Addiction/Alkoholizm i Narkomania
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1/2021
vol. 34
 
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abstract:
Original paper

Illicit drugs and their users in the Polish daily press (2015-2016)

Piotr Kępski
1

1.
SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Warsaw, Poland
Alcohol Drug Addict 2021; 34 (1): 1-32
Online publish date: 2021/07/11
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Introduction
The goal of the study was to explore representations of illicit drugs (heroin, cocaine, amphetamine, marijuana) and their users in Polish newspapers.

Material and methods
The texts published in four Polish nationwide newspapers between 1.09.2015 and 31.10.2016 were analysed. The critical discourse analysis method was used. Theoretical framework was provided by Foucault’s concept of power strategies (e.g. discipline, biopolitics, governmentality) linked with press discourses within the discursive-institutional structure called “apparatus”.

Results
Amphetamine was highly criminalised. Cocaine tended to be criminalised, but also linked with celebrities, elites. Heroin was constructed as drug causing death or degradation. Marijuana was depicted as an illicit drug or a medicine as well as a recreational substance. Drug users were presented as: a) junkies, celebrity junkies (heroin), b) celebrities, elites or criminals (cocaine), c) criminals, hooligans or young men (amphetamine), d) criminals, youth, ordinary people, patients (marijuana). Also investigated was which actors were cited by the press and which discursive strategies were applied.

Discussion
Apart from the dominant criminal discourse, drug representation was mostly influenced by political-medical and celebrity discourses. Drug users were usually presented in a negative manner as them, deviants, criminals except for medical marijuana users, who evoked sympathy. The relationship between power and press discursive strategies and drug discourses may be interpreted as Foucauldian “apparatus”, that is a network of institutional-discursive connections aimed at shaping drug related attitudes based on fear and compliance.

Conclusions
Drugs are subject to various discourses according to which they acquire diverse meanings. Representatives of disciplinary power (police), biopower (politicians) and celebrities play the crucial role in affecting drug discourses. The media focusing on crime and negative problems enhance power discourses related to drug criminalisation.

keywords:

Illicit drugs, Power, Critical discourse analysis (CDA), Foucault, Apparatus

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