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October 2021

Theory, method, and power in drug and HIV-prevention research: A participant-observer's critique

Journal/Book: Subst Use Misuse. 1999; 34: 270 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10016, USA. Marcel Dekker Inc. 2155-2172.

Abstract: Why do most substance misuse and HIV-prevention researchers not practice what they preach concerning the complementarity of quantitative and qualitative methods? Why does most of the public health literature fail to address the important intellectual and political debates that substance misuse and HIV infection confronts? Why is the entire field so timid with respect to social science theory? Most drug researchers, and virtually all the anthropologists working on the subject, publicly acknowledge the need to combine quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Surprisingly, however, there are almost no successful examples of substance misuse and HIV prevention research projects that meld quantitative methods with participant-observation approaches organically. While this methodological schism also holds true for most of the social sciences more broadly, in few other fields besides that of substance misuse research is the complementarity of quantitative and qualitative methods more urgently and obviously necessary. On the one hand this methodological dialogue has practical utility for creating better public health interventions that might relieve human suffering; and on the other hand this applied dialogue has the potential for a critical, multidisciplinary, theoretical impact on academia.

Note: Article Bourgois P, Univ Calif San Francisco, Dept Anthropol Hist & Social Med, San Francisco,CA 94143 USA

Keyword(s): HOMELESS HEROIN-ADDICTS; SAN-FRANCISCO; POLITICAL-ECONOMY; NEEDLE EXCHANGE; AIDS-PREVENTION; UNITED-STATES; MISSING LINK; USERS; INFECTION; RISK


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