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Informal (grassroot) social control of drug abuse: Context of stigma

Liberal Arts in Russia. 2016. Vol. 5. No. 2. Pp. 182-190.
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Yakovleva A. A.
Sociological Institute, RAS
25/14 7th Krasnoarmeyskaya St., 190005 Saint Petersburg, Russia


The article is focused on social stigma in informal (grassroot) social control of drug abuse. Social stigma is considered as the three related components: negative stereotypes, prejudices, and discrimination (P. Korrigan). The discrimination as a behavioral result of stigma manifests itself in capability deprivation, compulsion and segregation. According to this scheme, informal social control is shown on the example of the four Russian grassroots initiatives, which can be observed at the present time. They are implementing various approaches (Narcotics Anonymous self-help groups for drug users, “harm reduction”, the “war on drugs”, and support for co-dependents of drug users). As empirical data we used self-posted materials of these initiatives on the Internet (372 units of textual and visual information). The textual data was analyzed by combination of content analysis and critical discourse analysis. We conclude that the spectrum of social stigma in sphere of informal (grassroot) control is quite wide: from its correction (or even its full completing) to its significant gain. And the gain of social stigma could not be marked as negative unambiguously. In case of some grassroots initiatives (in particular self-help groups) the effectiveness and potency of social control may be also based on strengthening the social stigma of people who use alcohol and drugs. The last conclusion is connected with some data from other countries.


  • • social stigma
  • • discrimination
  • • social control
  • • drug abuse
  • • grass-root public initiatives


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