Sie befinden sich hier: NEWS » Aktuelle News Psychologie » News lesen

« zurück

Normalisation of drug use is associated to liberalism and the logic of consumer society

Normalisation re-visited: Drugs in Europe in the 21st century

"In Europe in the 21st century, nightlife drug use spaces became normalised due to two major changes that took place in the last decades: the rises of capitalism and liberalism," Kostas Skliamis explains (in: Normalisation-re-visited - Drugs in Europe in the 21st century).

"The first is the rise and the predominance of capitalism as a monopoly system. Capitalism prevailed not only as a production and economic model, but also as a model of consumption. Baudillard argues that one of the challenges of contemporary capitalism was that it had to achieve control, not only over the production, but also on the consumer demand to ensure that markets can be found for potentially unlimited productive capacity. In contemporary capitalism, the transformation of social-economic structure and culture, led many theorists to focus on the emergence of the consumer society and to analyse the ideological control and manufacturing of desire and temptation.

In the phase of late capitalism, consumerism is established as a central facet of social life. Capitalism embraces consumerism and promotes a culture of consumption. Consumption is now the duty of the individuals: they no longer exist as citizens or workers, but as consumers. Paraphrasing  one of the philosopy´s most famous sayings by Rene Descartes ´cogito ergo sum´, in contemporary capitalism as experienced in Europe, the declaration ´consumo ergo sum´ fits better to our societies. We live in a consumer society which systematically gives rise to the system of ´needs´ and is organised around consumer objects, needs, wants, desires and practices which are seen as matters of style, identity and culture.

The rapid capitalist penetration of many sectors of cultural production has affected two main developments in the arena of consumption: first, the mobilisation of fashion in mass markets has led to an acceleration of the pace of consumption across a wide range of life-styles and recreational activities, and second, the shift away from the consumption of goods into the consumption of services such as entertainments, spectacles, happenings, and distractions. This is particularly the case when we look more closely at the nightlife industry, where we see a move away from just selling a product (alcohol, drugs), to offering a range of lifestyles (atmosphere, experience, cultural capital). Capitalism has penetrated into all aspects of our lives, including leisure and entertainment, and led to the unrestricted development of nightlife spaces.

Liberalism: Drug use and drug policy have been central to liberal-themed debate of recent decades. The argument that ´individuals are sovereign of their own body and mind´ has been successfully used in the forefront of social changes in our societies. Same-sex marriage, gender identity issues, euthanasia, and drug use are some of the topics on which the argument of self-determination and sovereignty has been deployed.

The wave that is created by civil liberties and liberal civil rights is not detached from consumption, as consumption itself can be conceptualised as an expression of liberty, with individuals being the sovereign actors of their consuming behaviours and choices. The consumers are considered ´sovereign´ because they can freely select which product or service to consume. The right to self-development and self-determination makes the individual the starting and ending point of life, rendering all spheres of market and society in which the consumer appears as a sovereign actor. In this context, new spaces were opened up for differing conceptions of freedom and necessity. Marcuse believes this ´freedom´ and ´choice´ is illusory because the people have been preconditioned to make their choices within a pre-determined universe that circumscribes their range of needs, desires and eventally choices. Marcuse argues that the system´s social freedoms have become subtle instruments of domination which serve to kep the individuals in bondage to the system that they strengthen and perpetuate.

Normalisation of drug use and it´s spaces is associated to both liberalism and the logic of consumer society.

Normalisation re-visited: Drugs in Europe in the 21st century
Morgan, James; Søgaard, Thomas Friis; Uhl, Alfred (Eds.)
Pabst, 164 pages