by Robert Hamilton

Desmond Manderson, in his published article, Metamorphoses: Clashing Symbols in the Social Construction of Drugs, introduces the concept of the ‘double-sidedness’ of drug symbolism. This concept is based on his observation of the inherent symbolism used by the community, which is led by the state authorities, in regard to illicit drug use. Manderson points to the readily employed expression, the ‘war on drugs’ and how this metaphor is already richly laden with symbolism. Wars are usually reduced down to black and white issues involving a battle between the forces of good and evil (Weimer:2003:263). Manderson goes on to stress the that our understanding of illicit drug taking is heavily influenced by the symbolism used in the language and images surrounding this activity. In fact he uses the term ‘reification,’ which means regarding something abstract, like a symbol, as real or of material substance.

©Robert Hamilton


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