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  • 1.
    Nordgren, Johan
    Malmö högskola, Faculty of Health and Society (HS), Department of Social Work (SA).
    Making Up the ‘‘Drug-Abusing Immigrant’’: Knowledge Production in Swedish Social Work and Drug Treatment Contexts, 1960s–20112017In: Contemporary Drug Problems, ISSN 0091-4509, E-ISSN 2163-1808, Vol. 44, no 1, p. 49-68Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In social work, drug treatment, and government contexts in Sweden, numerous attempts have been made to construct a new kind of client and patient: the ‘‘drug-abusing immigrant.’’ I trace these developments from the 1960s to 2011 through an analysis of publications about ‘‘drug abuse among immigrants.’’ The empirical material consists of a broad range of publications produced on this topic in social work, drug treatment, and government contexts both nationally and in local municipal settings. I use Hacking’s analytical approach to ‘‘making up people’’ as a way of analyzing how knowledge pro- duction resulted in certain descriptions of the kind of client/patient categorized as a ‘‘drug-abusing immigrant.’’ Four themes were central to discussions of this kind: the introduction of new drugs and ways of using them by immigrants, the intermingling of ethnic drug use patterns, the need to target Iranians in relation to opiate use, and descriptions of drug-using immigrants as vulnerable. Drug use among immigrants was a phenomenon mainly discussed at local levels of social work and drug treatment and did not develop into a national political problem. It seems that a perceived rapid increase in immigration in Sweden during the mid-1980s acted as a catalyst for the focus on ‘‘drug abuse among immigrants.’’ The ‘‘drug-abusing immigrant’’ category should be seen as an administrative category and the process of making it up as ultimately a ‘‘failed’’ one. The category was not adopted by those so categorized and subsequently declined in use during the 2000s. A recent focus on drug use among ‘‘unaccompanied minors’’ might be seen as a new attempt to make up certain immigrants as a specific kind of ‘‘drug abuser.’’

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