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Title: Between the Substance Agency and the User’s Control. Instrumental Drug Use Among Drug Users in Warsaw


Sadowska, Zuzanna

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Ethnologia Polona 40 (2019)


Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology Polish Academy of Sciences

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24 cm

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The focus of this article is on instrumental drug use and the problem of agency in interaction with psychoactive substances. Most of the Euro-American discourse formed around drug use stresses the individual loss of self-control related to drug use. This paper is located within those critical studies of drug use, which challenge the notion that regular drug users are deprived of agency in their interaction with psychoactive substances. During my fieldwork among drug users in Warsaw, I got the impression that psychoactive substances can be treated as a tool for altering the state of the human mind, which can be employed in various ways and controlled by the user. Still, this tool is a dangerous one and cannot always be fully subject to human agency. Based on case studies, I analyse the functions of drugs for the users and their intentions regarding use. The ethnographic exploration of individual drug use trajectories is a starting point for the further consideration of the process of negotiating agency with psychoactive substances.


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Ethnologia Polona



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oai:rcin.org.pl:98634 ; 0137-4079 ; doi:10.23858/EthP40.2019.009


IAiE PAN, call no. P 366 ; IAiE PAN, call no. P 367 ; IAiE PAN, call no. P 368 ; click here to follow the link




Creative Commons Attribution BY-SA 3.0 PL license

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Copyright-protected material. [CC BY-SA 3.0 PL] May be used within the scope specified in Creative Commons Attribution BY-SA 3.0 PL license, full text available at: ; -

Digitizing institution:

Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences

Original in:

Library of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences

Projects co-financed by:

Operational Program Digital Poland, 2014-2020, Measure 2.3: Digital accessibility and usefulness of public sector information; funds from the European Regional Development Fund and national co-financing from the state budget. ; European Union. European Regional Development Fund



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Last modified:

Apr 16, 2021

In our library since:

Dec 31, 2019

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