‘The Wire’ constitutes an important cultural paradigm of drug policy debates

‘No one wins. One side just loses more slowly’: The Wire and drug policy

From Theoretical Criminology

Recent years have seen the significant growth of criminological interest in various forms of media and their symbolic and textual meanings. Since television programmes are one of the most powerful vehicles driving and informing such popular understandings, inclusion within criminological analysis is not only justified, but critically important to the continued development of criminology as a field of study. This article presents a cultural analysis of HBO’s drama series, The Wire. It is argued that, as a cultural text, it constitutes an important cultural paradigm of drug policy debates. The article provides a brief synopsis of two of the show’s main themes: (1) the unintended consequences of contemporary drug policy; and (2) the role of experimental alternative systems in drug policy’s future evolution. The study aims to strengthen the position of cultural analyses within criminology, particularly with recourse to television programmes. Whatever the subject of criminological debates, the capacity of televisual representations to challenge and reconfigure them should never be underes­timated.

Abstract

This article presents a cultural analysis of HBO’s drama series, The Wire. It is argued here that, as a cultural text, The Wire forms a site of both containment and resistance, of hegemony and change with recourse to the regulation of illicit drug markets. In this sense The Wire constitutes an important cultural paradigm of drug policy debates, one that has significant heuristic implications regarding both the present consequences and future directions of illicit drug policy. Ultimately, it is demonstrated below that through its representations of the tensions and antagonisms characteristic of drug control systems, The Wire reveals larger predicaments of governance faced by neoliberal democracies today.

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This article will also be included as part of the forthcoming special issue Visual Criminology Volume 18, Issue 2 (May 2014).

Article details
Stephen Wakeman
‘No one wins. One side just loses more slowly’: The Wire and drug policy
Theoretical Criminology 1362480613512669, first published on December 5, 2013 doi:10.1177/1362480613512669

 

     
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