Young People, Drugs and Inequality: Social and Cultural Perspectives

Course code SWRK6700
Not available in 2016


This course will examine current theory and practice knowledge in working with disadvantaged children and young people around substance use and abuse, within broader political, economic, social and historical contexts. Skills in working with children and young people will be developed through case studies and review of current effective national and international practice relating to issues encountered in students' own professional experience. Consideration will be given to a wide range of types of programmes for children and young people affected by substance abuse and how social and cultural research and knowledge can inform decision making and effective practice. The potential and limitations of current national and international policies on drug use will be addressed.


Not currently available.

Learning Outcomes

1. Describe the social and psychological theories relevant to substance use and abuse and its association with inequality and marginalisation.

2. Discuss and evaluate theories of social inequality, the concepts of 'youth cultures' and 'drug using subcultures' and ideas of surveillance and normalisation in reference to drug use and abuse.

3. Discuss and evaluate Australian and international health and policing policies and initiatives on substance use and abuse, including their impact on young and disadvantaged people.

4. Demonstrate an enhanced capacity to understand and document clear ethical decision-making processes.

5. Display the capacity to integrate theory, research and practice in working with young people.

6. Demonstrate the knowledge and skills needed to facilitate strong professional networks with colleagues in the human services practice field in the pursuit of professional and academic excellence.


  1. The social location of drug use and abuse.
  2. Inequality, social class and marginalisation.
  3. Social class and socio-economic status.
  4. The 'underclass' hypothesis.
  5. Surveillance and normalisation.
  6. Labelling, deviance and stigma.
  7. Social policy and substance abuse in Australia.
  8. International perspectives on drug policy.
  9. Laws related to alcohol and other drugs.
  10. Debates round harm minimisation policies.
  11. Evidence-based and international best practice

Assumed Knowledge

Relevant undergraduate degree.

Assessment Items

Case Study / Problem Based Learning: Case Scenario/PBL exercises

Written Assignment: Essays / Written Assignments

Contact Hours


Self-Directed Learning

Online 2 hour(s) per Week for Full Term