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A Critical Review of the Harm Minimization Ideology in Australia

Miller, Peter 2001, A Critical Review of the Harm Minimization Ideology in Australia, Critical public health, vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 167-178, doi: 10.1080/09581590110039865.

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Title A Critical Review of the Harm Minimization Ideology in Australia
Author(s) Miller, PeterORCID iD for Miller, Peter orcid.org/0000-0002-6896-5437
Journal name Critical public health
Volume number 11
Issue number 2
Start page 167
End page 178
Publisher Routledge
Place of publication Oxon, England
Publication date 2001-06
ISSN 0958-1596
1469-3682
Keyword(s) AIDS & HIV
behavioral medicine
health geography
medical sociology
public health - medical sociology;
risk
social policy
Summary Harm minimization as a drug-policy approach represents a major step forward in Australian society's method of dealing with the myriad problems associated with illicit drug use. However, harm minimization lacks a substantial theoretical underpinning and there has been little debate about harm minimization at the sociological level. This article investigates a number of the assertions made within the harm minimization literature and the assumptions on which they are based. These assumptions are critically deconstructed from a number of points of view, including a Foucauldian perspective. Areas investigated include: the use of epidemiological data as a foundation for many harm-reduction strategies, the failure of harm minimization theories to deal adequately with the role of discourse in the drug policy arena, the harm minimization claim to amorality, the use of a utilitarian set of values, the supposed popularity of harm reduction and the idea that the current harm-reduction paradigm clearly acts as an extension of 'surveillance medicine' through the vehicle of governmentality. It is concluded that, whilst harm minimization represents the most promising advance in drug policy in the past, the lack of theoretical rigour in the development of these initiatives results in many of the claims made by proponents of harm-reduction strategies being either overly optimistic or fundamentally flawed.
Language eng
DOI 10.1080/09581590110039865
Field of Research 160899 Sociology not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2001, Taylor & Francis
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30001217

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: School of Social Inquiry
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