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Synthetic Panics: The Symbolic Politics of Designer Drugsby Philip Jenkins
Synopses & Reviews
America has a long history of drug panics in which countless social problems have been blamed on the devastating effects of some harmful substance. In the last forty years, such panics have often focused on synthetic or designer drugs, like methamphetamine, PCP, Ecstasy, methcathinone, and rave drugs like ketamine, and GHB. Fear of these substances has provided critical justification for the continuing "war on drugs."
Synthetic Panics traces the history of these anti-drug movements, demonstrating that designer chemicals inspire so much fear not because they are uniquely dangerous, but because they bring into focus deeply rooted public concerns about social and cultural upheaval. Jenkins highlights the role of the mass media in spreading anti-drug hysteria and shows how proponents of the war on drugs use synthetic panics to scapegoat society's "others" and exacerbate racial, class, and intergenerational conflict.
Book News Annotation:
Jenkins (history and religious studies, Pennsylvania State U.) follows the recurring waves of blaming all US society's ills on various synthetic drugs, from amphetamines in the early 1960s to rape drugs in the late 1990s. He traces the panics to people's concerns about social and cultural upheaval; the spread of hysteria by the mass media; and the scapegoating of marginal groups by the proponents and beneficiaries of the drug war. He recommends a quick rethink before all rights and liberties are gone.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
This Major Reference series brings together a wide range of key international articles in law and legal theory. Many of these essays are not readily accessible, and their presentation in these volumes will provide a vital new resource for both research and teaching. Each volume is edited by leading international authorities who explain the significance and context of articles in an informative and complete introduction.
About the Author
Philip Jenkins is Distinguished Professor of History and Religious Studies at Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of numerous books, most recently Pedophiles and Priests: Anatomy of a Contemporary Crisis, and Moral Panic: Changing Concepts of the Child Molester in Modern America.
Table of Contents
Synthetic panics — Speed kills — Monsters, the pcp crisis, 1975-1985 — Suppressing ecstasy: the designer drug crisis — The menace that went away: the ice age, 1989-90 — The cat attack, 1993-94 — Redneck cocaine: the methamphetamine panic of the nineties — Rave drugs and rape drugs — 9 The next panic.
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