Institutional Scholarship

Degrees of Intoxication: drug use, biopower, and the acquisition of knowledge at Swarthmore College

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dc.contributor.advisor Smithey, Lee McGovern, Tom 2017-06-21T15:18:08Z 2017-06-21T15:18:08Z 2017
dc.description.abstract The use of psychoactive substances are ubiquitous in the daily lives of students. Sugar, caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, pharmaceuticals, and a variety of others are both commonly seen and discussed on college campuses. Discourse about these substances is often highly moralizing, examining them as aids to pleasure; however, these substances are integral to the daily work of college students, and effect their consciousness as they acquire knowledge. This thesis examines drug use at Swarthmore College not as an attempt to gain pleasure, but as a manifestation of biopower. Through semi-structured interviews, discourse analysis of mixed media, and the inevitable participant observation that accompanies daily life at Swarthmore, this project outlines the drugs students use, their motivations for doing so, and how they conceptualize the effect of drugs on their bodies. It also examines these habits within the broader context of meaning associated with being an elite college student: how patterns of drug use engage with other facets of students daily lives. Ultimately, this thesis argues that biopower is essential for understanding drug use at Swarthmore. Students use drugs not only to feel good, but also to address daily pressures in an attempt to conform to community standards. These behaviors become incorporated into larger habitus which affect how students conduct the labor of “learning” while at Swarthmore, and likely carry on into their daily lives after they graduate. This may have profound implications for understanding elite workplaces not only as institutions composed of graduates of environments like Swarthmore, but also as sites with similar pressures, rules, and community standards that may engender similar behavior. en_US
dc.description.sponsorship Swarthmore College. Dept. of Sociology & Anthropology en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.rights Full copyright to this work is retained by the student author. It may only be used for non-commercial, research, and educational purposes. All other uses are restricted.
dc.title Degrees of Intoxication: drug use, biopower, and the acquisition of knowledge at Swarthmore College en_US
dc.type Thesis (B.A.)
dc.rights.access No restrictions. en_US

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