CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

Drug users have for a long time been neglected by social sciences in France. The aim of this paper is to recount the construction of a body of sociological knowledge on addiction by focusing on the practices of young people, as well as reporting on the main sociological advances achieved through these works. Young people have been the focus of anxiety around drug addiction experienced by most policy makers and in the media. They were also at the core of the first sociological studies, subsequently losing this central place in social sciences surveys, which at the time were mainly ethnological studies, to groups identified as drug addicts in the late 1990s. Adolescents once again became the object of specific studies from the 2000s, thanks to the development of quantitative surveys that were representative of the adolescent population. These adaptations were made in accordance with the change in perceptions of young drug users, but also thanks to the appropriation by sociologists of methods until then restricted to epidemiology. These quantitative sociological studies have contributed to influencing public policies and introducing a different, less moralizing view of adolescent addictive behaviors.


  • drug
  • addiction
  • youth
  • public health
  • quantification
  • alcohol
  • tobacco
  • cannabis
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