Choice Magazine Names Book by College of Arts & Sciences Anthropology Professor an ‘Essential Academic Title’

Dr. J. Bryan Page’s ‘The Social Value of Drug Addicts’ Recognized by American Library Association Publication

J. Bryan Page’s provocative book The Social Value of Drug Addicts: Uses of the Useless has been named an “Essential Academic Title” by Choice Magazine.

Page is a professor in the UM College of Arts & Sciences Department of Anthropology. He co-authored The Social Value of Drug Addicts with Merrill Singer, a professor of anthropology at the University of Connecticut.

In the book, the two medical anthropologists argue that the social construction of drug users as culturally, morally and economically “useless” is actually useful to other people. They analyze media representations of drug users, drug policy, and underlying social structures to show who benefits from the criminalization, demonization and glamorization of drug addicts.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries is a leading source for reviews of academic books and digital resources of interest to higher education scholars and students. It publishes more than 7,000 reviews of academic publications each year, assigning a recommendation to each title ranging from “essential” to “not recommended.”

Less than 10% of publications reviewed are deemed “essential.”

The Choice review of The Social Value of Drug Addicts notes:

“Overall, they question the subjectivity, exploitation, and the power and outcomes of 'othering' drug users. This reviewer became newly aware of the extensive degree of exaggerated bias (labeling) about drug users, and how this negativity clearly amounts to socially constructed prejudice. The perspectives and research findings are well presented, certainly illuminating, and intriguing when the findings raise the question of why all drug users are worthless and burdensome to society. ... For anyone interested in a richly written social constructivist view about the social value of drug addicts.”

Page said writing this book allowed him and co-author Merrill to synthesize ideas they both forged during long careers analyzing drug users.

“We gave ourselves space to think about how so many parts of contemporary society benefit from the ongoing existence and activities of drug users,” he said, adding, “Authors, filmmakers, politicians, police and social scientists all have used drug users for their own purposes – telling stories of addiction through prose and film, posturing as anti-drug warriors, and in our own professional lives, studying drug users’ behaviors and their consequences.”

January 28, 2015