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Women and substance use: a feminist perspective

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posted on 2022-03-28, 13:44 authored by Toni Stephens
In Australia today, as in many other comparable societies, women's use of alcohol and other legal drugs is not circumscribed as it has been in the past. On the face of it, this suggests that there has been a major shift in social attitudes towards use of certain substances by women in line with changes to women's social position that occurred in the last few decades. Despite these changes, however, or perhaps because of them, women's use of alcohol and other drugs still attracts different attitudes and social responses when compared to similar behaviour in men. -- The objective of this research is to investigate the reasons why women's substance use behaviour is viewed differently from that of men's, how this has come about, why it is so culturally pervasive, and what are the effects for women. It has involved exploring how the meanings attached to women's use of certain chemical substances have been socially and historically constructed through scientific discourse, and how these meanings continue to be reproduced, reinforced and legitimated within other interlocking discourses. They are reflected too in cultural images as well as in popular attitudes, held by both women and men. -- The research has been undertaken using a 'woman-centred' approach, within the framework of feminist analysis. Such approach provides an alternative way of understanding women's experience with substance use.


Table of Contents

Women and substance use. An introduction -- Women and substance use from a different perspective. Feminist theory and methodology -- 'Fallen angels and moral heroines'. The historical construction of women and substance use -- 'When the normal is pathological and the pathological is normal'. Psychological explanations of women and substance use -- 'A foot in both camps'. Psychosocial explanations of women and substance use -- 'Violence as symptom and cause'. The role of substance use in the social control of women -- 'Breaking all the rules'. Legal responses to women and drugs-related crime -- 'When liberation is no liability'. Women as consumer targets -- 'A nice girl like you'. Women and substance use treatment -- Conclusion -- Bibliography.


"July 1994". Bibliography: leaves 400-462

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


Thesis (PhD) , Macquarie University, School of History, Philosophy and Politics

Department, Centre or School

School of History, Philosophy and Politics

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Sabine Erika

Additional Supervisor 1

Margaret Sargent


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[9], 462 leaves

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mq:8525 1386716

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