Risky Bodies, Drugs and Biopolitics: On the Pharmaceutical Governance of Addiction and Other ‘Diseases of Risk’

Scott Vrecko*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

While there has been a significant amount of scholarship done on health and risk in relation to public health and disease prevention, relatively little attention has been paid to therapeutic interventions which seek to manage risks as bodily, and biological, matters. This article elucidates the distinct qualities and logics of these two different approaches to risk management, in relation to Michel Foucault’s conception of the two poles of biopower, that is, a biopolitics of the population and an anatomo-politics of the human body. Using a case study of contemporary addiction biomedicine, the article examines the development and deployment of treatments for addiction that seek to reduce the risks of relapse to drug use, and relates this case to other risk-reducing (but non-curative) medications, particularly cholesterol-reducing medications. The notion of a ‘disease of risk’ is developed in order to identify a range of medical conditions that bear a family resemblance, insofar as they are pharmaceutically managed with risk-reducing medications, and bound up within what is described as a contemporary ‘risk anatomo-politics’.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-76
Number of pages23
JournalBody and Society
Volume22
Issue number3
Early online date8 Jun 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2016

Keywords

  • addiction
  • biopolitics
  • biopower
  • disease
  • pharmaceuticals
  • risk
  • treatment

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