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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Governing disease, governing desire : subtitle subjectivity and the logic of recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous Vrecko, Scott

Abstract

Through an examination of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), this thesis investigates the origins and implications of an alcoholic subjectivity that seems to necessitate the establishment of certain regimes of governance, both by alcoholics themselves and by agents of social regulation or coordination. Based on historical research, textual analysis of primary documents, and participant observation studies, it challenges prevailing accounts of AA, the dominant modality of alcoholism treatment in North America, as an exclusively spiritual or ethical program. Instead, it demonstrates that since the 1930s, in conjunction with medical, psychological, psychiatric, and social work disciplines, AA has produced a conceptualization of problem drinkers as inherently pathological individuals - alcoholics - and a corresponding regulatory regime to treat this pathology. The recovery program of AA is therefore examined as a bifurcated technology of governmentality, comprised of disciplinary and self-governing techniques.

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