Concepts of addiction, gender and social exclusion in Australian and Swedish drug policy

September 2014

NDRI: Associate Professor Suzanne Fraser, Professor David Moore

Other investigators: 

SoRAD, Stockholm University: Professor Jukka Törrönen, Dr Mimmi Eriksson Tinghög and Professor Börje Olsson

Project description: 

In many areas of social policy, Sweden and Australia sit at opposite ends of the welfare state spectrum (Valentine 2011). Sweden's approach is relatively open, non-stigmatising and inclusive while Australia's is relatively narrow and restrictive. It would seem logical that their respective drug policies follow similar lines, but instead, they present as the reverse, with Sweden promoting a narrow, restrictive, disciplinarian prohibitionist approach and Australia a more open, permissive harm reduction approach. How might we understand these two, seemingly contradictory, stories of Sweden and Australia? This project will explore this question through original research on three issues, all of which are central to the formulation of drug policy:

  1. Metaphors of exclusion in Swedish and Australian drug policy;
  2. Discourses and concepts of 'addiction' in Swedish and Australian drug policy;
  3. The treatment of gender in Swedish and Australian drug policy.

Two qualitative research methods will be employed: in-depth interviews with policy makers; and textual analysis of policy documents.  This project is funded by a SoRAD Program Grant, the Australian Research Council and NDRI travel funds.

For more about this project: Go to NDRI's website.