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1. 6 The plan of the thesis PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dolf Tops   
Saturday, 20 February 2010 00:00

1. 6 The plan of the thesis

In Part I, the concepts that are central for the analysis of the processes that resulted in different outcomes of the drug policies are discussed. Furthermore, the contextual factors that influenced and constrained the problem definitions and the shapes of the action programmes are outlined.

In Part II, the contextual factors that influenced the process and the problem definition are addressed. This part is based on secondary sources and aims at providing a historical background that enables an understanding of the different practices of controlling drug use. Chapter 2 contains a brief description of the international level that to a large degree determined the boundaries of national policymaking and is necessary to understand the influence of the international context on the national drug policy. In chapter 3, the national context is outlined against the background of my presumption that historically grown patterns of social control persevere in society's reactions to the modern drug problem. A brief description of historical developments of the core fields of the welfare state provides the reader with a comprehension of some basic features of important actors and traditions of formal social control. In chapter 4, these traditions are described more specifically in the field of formal social control of alcohol. Knowledge of historical developments of a social problem that was constituted by alcohol use and abuse is necessary to understand the development of the action programme that was worked out to counteract the drug problem. The chapter closes with a comparison of the practices. In chapter 5, traditions and practices of formal social control of drugs in the period prior to the 1960s are described as well as social circumstances in which drug use among youth emerged as a serious social problem in the 1960s.

Part III and Part IV, are based on primary sources and they make up the empirical part of the thesis in which the development of the drug policies are described chronologically. In Part 111, the development of the first problem definition stands in focus. In the introduction some structural differences in the policymaking procedure are discussed as well as the state committees that investigated the drug problem. In chapters 6 and 7 the development of the first generation of the problem definition and the action programme in Sweden and the Netherlands are described and analysed. Furthermore, the actors in policy arenas are identified and the influence of the international level discussed.

In Part IV, events and experiences with the action programme led to an adjustment of the first problem definition. The most salient features of this development are described and analysed. The chapters in part III and IV close with a summary in which the policy domain, the problem definition, the action program, and the influence of the international level on the national policy are identified.

Part V contains a comprehensive comparison and analysis of the policies as they have been proposed, designed, and implemented. The part closes with an epilogue of events and further developments within the drug policies that took place after the period studied in this thesis.

To summarise, this is to say that the study object of this dissertation is drug politics and its formation. Drug politics is an instance of political governance in States. Above, the elements of drug politics have been recapitulated.

The two general terms, which I think can explain the development of drug politics, are institutional factors and the emergence of new social problems.

On the national level, institutional factors are conceived within the general framework of the so-called "neo-institutionalist" theory (March and Olsen, 1989). In my way of reasoning, it means that the existing patterns of organising several central tasks of government, especially political decision-making, formal control and the judiciary, and the treatment and social care systems, tend to reproduce themselves and form severe constraints on policy formation. In very general terms, institutional factors comprise both social relations (power arrangements, norms communication systems) and systems of meaning (assumptions of truth, premises of knowledge).

New social problems arise when undesired and threatening social conditions are moulded into arenas for intervention.

The following dissertation text is intended to explain the rise of drug politics in Sweden and the Netherlands in terms of institutional factors and new social problems. This, of course, implies that a fair number of interesting things are not in my focus. This text will not answer the reader's questions on the efficiency of the Swedish treatment models nor on the viability of the Dutch reduction-of-nuisance philosophy. These are some of the several questions that I am passionately interested in, but they are not what I have chosen to write this dissertation about.

Last Updated on Sunday, 02 January 2011 21:13

Our valuable member Dolf Tops has been with us since Sunday, 19 December 2010.

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