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Scapegoating, self-confidence and risk comparison : the functionality of risk neutralisation and lay epidemiology by injecting drug users

Miller, Peter G. 2005, Scapegoating, self-confidence and risk comparison : the functionality of risk neutralisation and lay epidemiology by injecting drug users, International journal of drug policy, vol. 16, no. 4, pp. 246-253, doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2005.05.001.

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Title Scapegoating, self-confidence and risk comparison : the functionality of risk neutralisation and lay epidemiology by injecting drug users
Author(s) Miller, Peter G.ORCID iD for Miller, Peter G. orcid.org/0000-0002-6896-5437
Journal name International journal of drug policy
Volume number 16
Issue number 4
Start page 246
End page 253
Publisher Elsevier
Place of publication Amsterdam, Netherlands
Publication date 2005-08
ISSN 0955-3959
1873-4758
Keyword(s) scapegoating
rational choice
injecting drug users
risk neutralisation
lay epidemiology
Summary This paper investigates the competing rationalities of scientific and lay epidemiology and how the tension between the two impacts on the efficacy of health promotion messages for injecting drug users (IDUs). It proposes that behaviours, which may be difficult to understand when viewed at an individual level, are, in fact, rational within particular cultural contexts. The study used qualitative semi-structured interviews with 60 heroin users. A number of different types of risk neutralisation were observed in this group of interviewees, including: scapegoating, self-confidence and risk comparison. Interviewees commonly used lay epidemiology to justify and rationalise their risk neutralisation strategies. The paper provides concrete examples of the ways in which this group of IDUs neutralise risk through the use of these strategies. The findings illustrate how many of the psychological constructs surrounding the perception of risk which focus on individual behaviour are fundamentally simplistic and often unhelpful in understanding the behaviours of this group of people. It is concluded that some ‘risk’ behaviours are often functional and rational within the context of prohibitionist drug policies which create an environment in which the IDU often has little real agency to reduce the risks associated with their drug use.
Language eng
DOI 10.1016/j.drugpo.2005.05.001
Field of Research 170106 Health, Clinical and Counselling Psychology
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2005 Elsevier B.V.
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30026480

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: School of Psychology
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