Talking About Drug Use: Positioning and Reflexivity in Drug Research Interviews and Beyond

Per Kristian Hilden


The recognition of the role of discourse in the production of self-understandings and subjectivity has undergone considerable theoretical development over the past decades. Yet, attention to possible ramifications for the status of conversation-based research has been limited and parochial.

This article examines the research interview, as a methodological technique and as a social and cultural event, in relation to representations of drug use, agency and responsibility, arguing that research conversations about drugs cannot be understood in separation from the cultural repertoire of speaking positions evoked by the particular topic of inquiry. In the context of drug research, such positions are embedded in circulating narratives of drug use and drug users, as well as in generalized images of responsibility, self-sufficiency, and the personal management of information and risk. Drawing on material from an ethnographic study of recreational substance use among young adults in Norway, it is suggested that such conversations are unique occasions for the deployment of and reflection on subject positions, giving rise to functions of the research interview beyond the generation of sociological data.



drug use; young adult; dialogue; cultural representations; interview research; dialogic interview; conversational dynamics; stance-taking

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Copyright (c) 2014 Per Kristian Hilden

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