My areas of expertise include identity formation and change, drug abuse, drug-related crime, drugs and public health, youth culture, deviance, and inequality. My published work (see link for curriculum vitae) explores the social problems related to substance abuse, using qualitative research-namely in-depth interviewing and fieldwork. This approach allows me to understand the nuances of identities and the significance of social context in the life worlds of drug users.
My research has helped expand the utility of sociological concepts of identity to the study of substance abuse. This also has important policy implications, namely that intervention efforts must feature strategies to create pro-social alternative identities among substance abusers and offenders. The work also has contributed more generally to theories of identity in the sociology of deviance literature.
To date, my research has received national and international recognition. For example, publications related to my work have been cited in journals such as Symbolic Interaction, Psychology of Addictive Behavior, Deviant Behavior, Journal of Drug Issues, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Addiction Research Theory, Addiction, Social Science Quarterly, Substance Use and Misuse, American Journal of Public Health, and Pediatrics.
Currently, I am working on two books related to the field of substance abuse. The first is a textbook for courses relating to the sociology of alcohol, drugs, and crime. I am co-authoring the book with fellow facult, Lana Harrison, Steve Martin, and Cynthia Robbins, at the University of Delaware. The book will be published by Wadsworth Press in early 2005.
The second book is an edited collection of original essays on women, power, and drugs from leading scholars and promising young researchers. It will address women's experiences from an empowered perspective, rather than one of moral depravity, mental dysfunction, and powerlessness. It will focus on how interaction and activities in the illicit drug world are both functional and detrimental to individuals and society. This is the reality of the illicit drug market. Individuals experience both reward and repercussions from their engagement in it, often perceiving higher benefits or few alternatives for a different way of life. This book explores this dynamic by focusing on women's activities and experiences. It is essential that academics, policy-makers, and front-line practitioners secure an improved understanding of this matter in order to not only advance sociological theory and research, but also policy initiatives designed to alleviate drug-related social problems. Currently, I am negotiating with several university presses and expect the book to be published by mid-2005.
My third major project is a new ethnography on electronic dance music, youth culture and drug abuse. Although the project is just getting off the ground, my central research questions focus on the origins and substance of the collective identities situated to electronic dance music culture in the US and abroad, the role of drug use in this subculture as compared to those in the past, and how new club drugs legislation in the US and Europe will impact the scene and its interactants. I am currently preparing grant proposals to fund a long-term research agenda. While this work will build on my identity and drug abuse research, it will also explore larger sociological questions of youth culture, collective identity, and socio-legal change.