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Understanding risk behaviours: How the sociology of deviance may contribute? The case of drug-taking


  • Peretti-Watel, Patrick
  • Moatti, Jean-Paul


This paper argues that the sociology of deviance can be used to improve our understanding of some difficulties and unintended effects of health-promotion interventions designed to change risk behaviours, especially drug-taking. Firstly, many people engaged in 'risk behaviours' tend to deny the 'risky' label just as delinquents neutralise the 'deviant' label, and preventive information itself may be used by individuals in shaping risk denial. Secondly, deliberate risk-taking may be an 'innovative deviance',which is related to difficulties of conforming to the dominant 'risk culture'. Health promotion is likely to be quite ineffective if it remains wedded to the dominant risk culture and de facto contributes to the spread of it.

Suggested Citation

  • Peretti-Watel, Patrick & Moatti, Jean-Paul, 2006. "Understanding risk behaviours: How the sociology of deviance may contribute? The case of drug-taking," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 675-679, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:63:y:2006:i:3:p:675-679

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Monaghan, Lee F., 2002. "Vocabularies of motive for illicit steroid use among bodybuilders," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 55(5), pages 695-708, September.
    2. Crawford, Robert, 1994. "The boundaries of the self and the unhealthy other: Reflections on health, culture and AIDS," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 38(10), pages 1347-1365, May.
    3. Skolbekken, John-Arne, 1995. "The risk epidemic in medical journals," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 291-305, February.
    4. Hayes, Michael V., 1992. "On the epistemology of risk: Language, logic and social science," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 401-407, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Heikkinen, Hanne & Patja, Kristiina & Jallinoja, Piia, 2010. "Smokers' accounts on the health risks of smoking: Why is smoking not dangerous for me?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(5), pages 877-883, September.
    2. Bell, Kirsten & Keane, Helen, 2014. "All gates lead to smoking: The ‘gateway theory’, e-cigarettes and the remaking of nicotine," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 45-52.
    3. Gowan, Teresa & Whetstone, Sarah & Andic, Tanja, 2012. "Addiction, agency, and the politics of self-control: Doing harm reduction in a heroin users’ group," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(8), pages 1251-1260.


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