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Risk, shame and the public injector: a qualitative study of drug injecting in South Wales

Risk, shame and the public injector: a qualitative study of drug injecting in South Wales
Risk, shame and the public injector: a qualitative study of drug injecting in South Wales
Drug injecting in public places is associated with elevated health harm among injecting drug users (IDUs). Yet there is little research exploring the lived experience of injecting in public places, and specifically, a need to explore the interplay of public injecting environments, risk practices and social marginalisation. We undertook 49 qualitative interviews with IDUs in South Wales, UK, in six locations. Analyses focused on injectors’ narratives of injecting in public places and risk identity. Findings show how the lived experience of public injecting feeds a pervasive sense of risk and ‘otherness’ among street injectors, in which public injecting environments act as contextual amplifiers of social marginalisation. Injecting in public places was characterised by urgency associated with a fear of interruption, a need to maintain privacy to prevent public exposure, and an awareness or sense of shame. We argue that daily interactions involving public exposure of injecting status, combined with the negative social meanings ascribed to public places used for injection, are experienced as potentially degrading to one's sense of self. We conclude that the public injecting environment is experienced in the context of other forms of public shaming in the lives of street injectors, and is thus productive of symbolic violence. This highlights tensions between strategies seeking to create safer communities and environmental interventions seeking to reduce drug-related health harm, including recent innovations such as the ‘drug consumption room’ (DCR).
uk, place, injecting drug use, stigma, symbolic violence, risk
0277-9536
572-585
Rhodes, Tim
5b7deea5-861e-4d69-a64f-f90d76b65670
Watts, Louise
00a600cb-1ac6-45a2-9019-5a76eb9c875c
Davies, Sarah
47b7213a-2f2d-4f16-a180-a9c9cabd8208
Martin, Anthea
3629eb50-fcb6-4c91-be66-ffe2681016c9
Smith, Josie
79f309c4-b696-4ab1-ac4d-ebc5b3666711
Clark, David
1b9a22ab-ae38-42f2-8c4c-370ae8fb688a
Craine, Noel
a8ec2cf8-6819-4f4d-ae1e-4cc665535cd1
Lyons, Marion
659f3a9c-2592-41bf-9086-ad494ac3daad
Rhodes, Tim
5b7deea5-861e-4d69-a64f-f90d76b65670
Watts, Louise
00a600cb-1ac6-45a2-9019-5a76eb9c875c
Davies, Sarah
47b7213a-2f2d-4f16-a180-a9c9cabd8208
Martin, Anthea
3629eb50-fcb6-4c91-be66-ffe2681016c9
Smith, Josie
79f309c4-b696-4ab1-ac4d-ebc5b3666711
Clark, David
1b9a22ab-ae38-42f2-8c4c-370ae8fb688a
Craine, Noel
a8ec2cf8-6819-4f4d-ae1e-4cc665535cd1
Lyons, Marion
659f3a9c-2592-41bf-9086-ad494ac3daad

Rhodes, Tim, Watts, Louise, Davies, Sarah, Martin, Anthea, Smith, Josie, Clark, David, Craine, Noel and Lyons, Marion (2007) Risk, shame and the public injector: a qualitative study of drug injecting in South Wales. Social Science & Medicine, 65 (3), 572-585. (doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2007.03.033). (PMID:17475383)

Record type: Article

Abstract

Drug injecting in public places is associated with elevated health harm among injecting drug users (IDUs). Yet there is little research exploring the lived experience of injecting in public places, and specifically, a need to explore the interplay of public injecting environments, risk practices and social marginalisation. We undertook 49 qualitative interviews with IDUs in South Wales, UK, in six locations. Analyses focused on injectors’ narratives of injecting in public places and risk identity. Findings show how the lived experience of public injecting feeds a pervasive sense of risk and ‘otherness’ among street injectors, in which public injecting environments act as contextual amplifiers of social marginalisation. Injecting in public places was characterised by urgency associated with a fear of interruption, a need to maintain privacy to prevent public exposure, and an awareness or sense of shame. We argue that daily interactions involving public exposure of injecting status, combined with the negative social meanings ascribed to public places used for injection, are experienced as potentially degrading to one's sense of self. We conclude that the public injecting environment is experienced in the context of other forms of public shaming in the lives of street injectors, and is thus productive of symbolic violence. This highlights tensions between strategies seeking to create safer communities and environmental interventions seeking to reduce drug-related health harm, including recent innovations such as the ‘drug consumption room’ (DCR).

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More information

Published date: August 2007
Keywords: uk, place, injecting drug use, stigma, symbolic violence, risk
Organisations: Psychology

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Local EPrints ID: 346507
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/346507
ISSN: 0277-9536
PURE UUID: 8f819fa3-204f-43af-8e7d-b30d3e1c3b46

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Date deposited: 26 Feb 2013 14:13
Last modified: 16 Jul 2019 21:47

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Contributors

Author: Tim Rhodes
Author: Louise Watts
Author: Sarah Davies
Author: Anthea Martin
Author: Josie Smith
Author: David Clark
Author: Noel Craine
Author: Marion Lyons

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