CFP – Socio-Materiality of Drug Control and Prevention


Call for Extended Abstracts – Special Section of Contemporary Drug Problems

The Socio-Materiality of Drug Control and Prevention

Guest Editors: Bettina Paul and Simon Egbert

Fundamentally, drug control and prevention practices rely on a material infrastructure. Ranging from the installation of alcohol-interlock-systems in cars to devices simulating thealcohol experience (e.g., ‘drunk goggles’), from drug-testing programs to photo-morphing in prevention campaigns (e.g., ‘F aces of Meth’), these practices all aim to prevent and/or identify the use of psychoactive substances, although their technical mediation as well as their rationales (e.g., deterrence, simulated experience) differ.

Despite this ubiquity, there is little research analyzing the omnipresence and efficacy of technological and material influences in the field of drug prevention and control (e.g., Gomart& Hennion, 1999; Gomart, 2004; Campbell, 2004, 2005, 2006; Herschinger, 2015). Therefore, by bringing together empirical findings and theoretical analyses from a multitude of disciplines, this special issue aims to initiate and set the ground for a focused discussion on the relationship between drug control and prevention strategies and their material infrastructure – as fundamental prerequisites for materializing drug consumption and/or impairment in the first place.

We especially encourage the submission of articles that reflect on the socio-material infrastructure of drug control and prevention practices by using approaches that are sensitized towards the agency and/or efficacy of artifacts and/or technical infrastructures – for example, from science and technology studies, feminist technoscience, new materialism,and material culture studies. The special issue is open to papers that undertake the analysis of single technologies as well as to comparative analyses of different technologies. It also encourages a focus on common politics, epistemic regimes, or scripts in and behind these artifacts or materially mediated practices.

Relevant questions to be addressed in the special issue may include but are not limited to:

  • How is drug use labeled as (mis)use by utilizing technical instruments and/or material infrastructures (e.g., drug tests, laboratories, etc.)?
  • How do inscribed standards (Akrich, 1992) – like threshold values – for (in)appropriate alcohol or other drug use manifest materially and what effects does this have on bringing drug (mis)use into being?
  • How can the ‘chain of translation’ (Latour, 1995) of alcohol or other drug testing be empirically reconstructed (e.g., from first indicator to end result)?
  • What sociotechnical imaginaries (Jasanoff, 2015) can be extracted from the sociomaterial drug control and/or prevention measures?
  • How are (material) bodies used as information resources in order to detect drug (mis)use? (van der Ploeg, 2005; Aas, 2006)?
  • Where are the conflicts between material trust, or mechanical objectivity (Daston & Galison, 2007), and human distrust – or vice-versa?
  • Which kinds of technical/material mediation support the self-governance of drug control and how do consumers feel about this?
  • What kinds of resistance strategies can be identified (e.g., the adulteration of drug testing samples)?


  • Extended abstract submission deadline: August 31, 2020
  • Notification of acceptance: September 30, 2020
  • Deadline for full papers: February 28, 2021
  • The special issue is expected to be published in late 2021.

Submission Process

Please send your extended abstract (1000 words max.) to the guest editors. The authors of the selected submissions will be invited to submit a full paper (10,000 words max.) by February 28, 2021, via the online submission system of Contemporary Drug Problems. The submitted full papers will then undergo double-blind peer review. For the preparation of the full paper, authors should consult the journal’s manuscript guidelines.

Guest Editor Contact Details

  • Bettina Paul, Institute for Criminological Social Research, Universität Hamburg.
  • Simon Egbert, Institute of Sociology, Technische Universität Berlin.


Aas, K. F. (2006). ‘The body does not lie’: Identity, risk and trust in technoculture. Crime, Media, Culture, 2(2): 143-158.

Akrich, M. (1992). The de-scription of technical objects. In Bijker, W.E. & Law, J. (eds),Shaping Technology/Building Society. Cambridge: MIT Press, pp. 205-224.

Campbell, N.D. (2004). Technologies of suspicion: Coercion and compassion in post-disciplinary surveillance regimes. Surveillance and Society, 2(1): 78-92.

Campbell, N.D. (2005). Suspect technologies: Scrutinizing the intersection of science, technology, and policy. Science, Technology, and Human Values, 30(3): 374-402.

Campbell, N.D. (2006). Everyday insecurities: The micro-behavioral politics of intrusive surveillance. Monahan, T. (ed.), Surveillance and Security: Technological Politics and Power in Everyday Life. New York: Routledge, pp. 57-75.

Daston, L. & Galison, P. (2007). Objectivity. Cambridge: Zone Books.

Gomart, E. (2004). Surprised by methadone: In praise of drug substitution treatment in a French clinic. Body & Society, 10(2/3): 85-110.

Gomart, E. & Hennion, A. (1999). A sociology of attachment: Music amateurs, drug users. The Sociological Review, 47(1_suppl): 220-247.

Herschinger, E. (2015). The drug dispositif: Ambivalent materiality and the addiction of the global drug prohibition regime. Security Dialogue, 46(2): 183-201.

Jasanoff, S. (2015). Future imperfect: Science, technology, and the imaginations of modernity. In Jasanoff, S. & Kim, S-H. (eds), Dreamscapes of Modernity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 1-33.

Latour, B. (1995). The ‘pedofil’ of Boa Vista: A photo-philosophical montage. Common Knowledge, 4(1): 144-187.

Van der Ploeg, I. (2005). The Machine-Readable Body: Essays on Biometrics and the Informatization of the Body. Maastricht: Shaker.

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