Överdosens antropologi: En kontextuell studie

Translated title of the contribution: The Anthropology of Overdose: A Contextual Study

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


The central theme of this thesis is the nature of heavy drug overdose and its social consequences. The aim of the study is to provide a nuanced ethnographic interpretation on the phenomenon concerning drug overdose, especially among drug users using injections as the principle means of administering the drugs. The field study was localized to institutional milieus, primarily drug addiction treatment centres in three countries; Sweden, the Netherlands and the United States. The field itself contains a number of different kinds of actors: drug users, police, medical staff, social workers; and the thesis goes to some length to describe this field - an institutional setting providing the conditions in which the activities occur. The thesis is organized in such a way as to focus increasingly on the advent of the overdose in the life space of the drug user, and on the way in which the individual's social status and the meaning of the act are constructed after the fact itself. Overdose can be understood as an act that defines the limit of the drug user's life world. Within this field the overdose represents a liminal moment, a crossing over. If surviving, the individual concerned achieves a new social status, that of a real drug user who has experienced the entire gamut of the drug universe. If this can be interpreted as a rite of passage, it is not one that is planned. Its meaning only emerges after the fact. It is suggested that the process of constructing ritual meaning after the event is best understood as a retrospective ritualization.
Translated title of the contributionThe Anthropology of Overdose: A Contextual Study
Original languageSwedish
Awarding Institution
  • Social Anthropology
  • [unknown], [unknown], Supervisor, External person
Award date2003 Dec 17
ISBN (Print)91-7267-161-0
Publication statusPublished - 2003

Bibliographical note

Defence details
Date: 2003-12-17
Time: 10:00
Place: Edens Hörsal
External reviewer(s)
Name: Goldberg, Ted
Title: [unknown]
Affiliation: [unknown]

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Social Anthropology

Free keywords

  • anthropology
  • overdose
  • drug users
  • retrospective ritualization
  • national insurance
  • Social problems and welfare


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