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 ambitious research during my Minnesota years examines the crucial place of addiction treatment within contemporary social policy, collaborating with several Minnesota students to examine the primary 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. We have also studied the alternative alternative “harm reduction” model practising practical, "non-judgmental" health education and outreach, evangelical recovery groups, sober houses, and best-selling addiction memoirs. I’m now bringing several elements of the project together in a book manuscript.
Other pieces in the works include a) an article under review on branded labor among young low-wage retail workers with undergraduates, and b) a shortly forthcoming chapter on the politics of micro-production in the French Pyrenees in Juliet Schor and Craig Thompson's "Sustainable Lifestyles and the Quest for Plenitude (Yale, 2014).
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.