Drugs in Culture

Course code SOCA3630Units 10Level 3000Faculty of Education and ArtsSchool of Humanities and Social Science

Using comparative material, this course will explore the social relationships and the cultural forms which drugs mediate. Ethnographic and historical material from Western and indigenous societies will be used to explore the particular social and cultural meanings of drug use. Attention will be given to the social history of drugs in the West and in Asia; the social and cultural rules governing drug use; drugs and social control; and the use of hallucinogens in relationship to shamanism, divination and healing in indigenous societies. The course will explore the cultural meanings attached to altered states of consciousness. The focus will not be so much on the scientific bio-medical aspects of drugs but on people's understandings of biology, embodiment and consciousness. Specific topics covered will vary from year to year. However, it is envisaged that possible topics will include: drugs and the exploration of alternative realities; drugs and identity; drugs and subcultures; the social distribution and control of drugs; the social and cultural effects of drugs; drugs and the financing of criminal activities and political conflicts; and the social use of alcohol in the West.

Not available in 2015

ObjectivesUpon completion of this course students will be able to demonstrate:
1. An understanding of the different theoretical perspectives used to study cultural practices.
2. Knowledge of the way in which experiences are socially controlled and culturally formed.
3. An ability to critically analyse social practices and cultural representations.
4. Skills in writing academic essays, giving oral presentations, and policy research.
Content1. Theories of the way in which experiences are symbolically and socially constituted.
2. Theories of the social control and use of drugs.
3. Classic ethnographic studies of how relationships are mediated by alternative realities.
4. Contemporary ethnographic studies of drugs use.
5. The political economy of drugs.
Replacing Course(s)Replacing SOCA3610 (20 credit)
Rotating with SOCA2020 and SOCA2050
Industrial Experience0
Assumed Knowledge40 units of study at 1000 level.
Modes of DeliveryInternal Mode
Teaching MethodsLecture
Assessment Items
Essays / Written AssignmentsTutorial paper worth 20%, 1000 words.
Essays / Written AssignmentsEssay 1 worth 40% due mid-semester, 1500 words.
Essays / Written AssignmentsEssay 2 worth 40% due end of semester, 1500 words.
Contact HoursLecture: for 1 hour(s) per Week for Full Term
Tutorial: for 1 hour(s) per Week for Full Term