Urban Sociology; Ethnography; Poverty and Inequality; Consumption; Alternative Economies.
Since 1980 there have been some deep shifts in the American understanding and management of poverty. My 2010 book Hobos, Hustlers, and Backsliders analyzes the medicalization and criminalization of homelessness. A closely-related development has been the increasing importance of 12-step discourse and a modified, “strong-arm” version of rehab to contemporary strategies of poverty management. My most large-scale project current project examines this crucial role of addiction treatment within contemporary social policy. With several Minnesota students, I have been studying local institutions applying the important contemporary approaches to drug interventions. Two of the sites work closely with local courts – one a “strong-arm” therapeutic community strongly shaped by the 12-step tradition, the other an evangelical institution focused on conversion – both place a strong emphasis on a holistic makeover of the individual, instilling a strict moral code, self-discipline and a strong work ethic. The third site, now closed due to a funding crisis, was a needle and syringe exchange and community center following the alternative “harm reduction” model which emphasizes practical, "non-judgmental" health education and outreach. With four co-authored articles on the different sites in print to date I’m now working on a book manuscript bringing the elements of the project together.
Other current research includes a) a collaborative project on branded labor among young low-wage retail and service workers, and b) a forthcoming chapter on the politics of micro-production in the Pyrenees.
Making the Criminal Addict: Subjectivity and Social Control in a Strong-arm Rehab”with Sarah Whetstone. 2012. Punishment & Society 14(1):69–93.
“Addiction, Agency, and the Politics of Self-control: Doing Harm Reduction in a Heroin Users’ Group” with Sarah Whetstone and TanjaAndic. 2012. Social Science & Medicine74:1251–60.
Hobos, Hustlers, and Backsliders: Homeless in San Francisco.2010.Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.