Illicit drug supply and the construction of the self as an ethical subject

J. Scott

School Of Justice, Queensland University Of Technology 

Contemporary drug policy has been built around stereotypes linking drug markets to addiction, immorality and crime.  While much research has focused on drug users as deviant, less attention has given to drug suppliers.  Anderson (1993, 1998), for example, developed cultural identity theory to examine both personal and social marginalization of drug users, identifying strategies to manage stigma. Moving from stereotypes of the drug dealer, this paper uses this framework and the concept of social supply (drug markets where a supplier, not considered to be a ‘drug dealer proper’, brokers, facilitates or sells drugs, for little or no financial gain to friends and acquaintances) to examine how drug suppliers conceptualise and present the self as a socially integrated and ethical subject. The paper draws on interviews with 200 people who have been engaged in social supply of cannabis in three Australian cities.


John Scott is a Professor in the School of Justice, Queensland University of Technology, Australia.  He has published widely, including Australian government supported research on the ecology of crime (crime in rural contexts), gender and crime( sex industry regulation) and drug use (the supply of cannabis). His most Recenbt co-authored book is Crime and Society (Sage 2015).