Using ethnographic approach and cultural models framework in research on recreational drug use

stmm. 2020 (3): 178-193



2-nd year PhD-student in Sociology, National University of “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy” (2, Hryhorii Skovoroda St., Kyiv 04655)


Candidate of Sciences in Philosophy (2003), PhD in Anthropology (2010), Associate Professor at the Sociology Department of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Social Technologies, National University of “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy” (2, Hryhorii Skovoroda St., Kyiv 04655)

Substance abuse is one of the pressing issues that loom large in socio-epidemiological and health research in many countries nowadays. The empirical research on drug use is abundant, as are the perspectives on studying the risks associated with different aspects of drug use. In our article we give an overview of both prevalent and novel approaches to understanding the antecedents of drug use, focusing on the methodological means to create the ethnographically informed accounts of the reasons why individuals may start using drugs and how they themselves see this practice and their lives. The goal of the present publication is to outline the methodological benefits of the strategic use of the principles of ethnographic approach to various forms of data collection, and specifically looking into the intellectual framework of cultural models in applied research on recreational drug use. Ethnographic research on cultural models offers ample opportunities for methodological innovation, involving combined use of different techniques and integration of multimodal research options, and is particularly valuable for applied contexts due to the richness of the produced narrative. Using the methodological means supplied by the fieldwork-oriented research in drug use studies would offer new insights for scholars and policy makers. We present the methodological argument regarding the strategic use of the principles of ethnographic approach to increase the informativeness, accuracy and validity of the results in applied research on recreational drug use. Besides the methodological innovations the fieldwork-oriented research offers, using the methodological means supplied by the ethnographic research on cultural models would enable the social researchers to address the problem of drug use more efficiently.

Keywords: ethnographic methods, cultural models theory, recreational drug use, research design


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Received 12.04.2020