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In this occasional series we record the views and personal experience of people who have especially contributed to the evolution of ideas in the journal's field of interest. When the longest-serving alcohol and drug researcher in Norway celebrated his 70th birthday about 2 years ago, little changed. Rather than enjoying a well-earned rest, Ragnar Hauge—jurist, criminologist and for many years head of Norway's national drug and alcohol research institute SIRUS—remained at his post at the institute.

EARLY YEARS

  1. Top of page
  2. EARLY YEARS
  3. CRIMINOLOGY
  4. PERSPECTIVES
  5. ALCOHOL AND DRUG RESEARCH
  6. IN PUBLIC
  7. LOOKING AHEAD
  8. References

Addiction (A): Could you tell us something about your childhood?

Ragnar Hauge (RH): I was born in 1933, at the peak of the depression when the birth rate was at its lowest ebb, which meant, conveniently as far as I was concerned, that there were fewer people to compete with in the job market. I grew up in Trondheim, Norway's medieval capital, not very far from the Arctic Circle, with long, dark winters and short, bright summers. My father was a lawyer, later a judge. During my first 5 years at school, Norway was occupied by German troops, and people were not allowed to form or join associations, the cinemas were boycotted, radio sets confiscated and for long stretches at a time, the school was closed either because it could not be heated or because it was requisitioned to house troops. As a result, we probably spent more time at home or with friends than youngsters do today. After elementary school I went to grammar school and the natural thing for middle-class boys after that was to keep on studying. I neither liked nor had an aptitude for technical subjects, so the University of Oslo, at the time the only university in Norway, presented the obvious choice. I had thought originally of studying economics, but mathematical models loom large in that subject, so it did not suit me very well: and since law lies in the family, that is where I ended up.

‘Norway was occupied by German troops . . . the school was closed either because it could not be heated or because it was requisitioned to house troops.’

A: Do you have any special memories from your student days?

RH: The most important thing that happened to me during that period was getting married, and the birth of our first child. As far as studies are concerned, teachers and students today have much closer contact than they did back then. Studying law basically meant reading the literature and taking examinations. Lectures were the only form of tuition. Students turned up, heard what the professor had to say, then went their separate ways. There was this immense gap between the students and professors. At the time, being a professor was considered a grand position, and it came with lots of status—and an equally powerful sense of apprehension among the students.

A: Did any of your teachers in Oslo have a formative influence on you?

RH: Not really. I remember them all very well, and if there was an influence it came through contact and working together after I had graduated. I did not even speak to a professor, as far as I recall, until I had graduated!

A: Has the nature of alcohol and drug-related problems changed since your student days in the 1950s?

RH: Very much so. People drank less then, young and old. The alcohol statistics illustrate the changes. Since 1955—when I started studying—registered consumption has doubled. Attitudes to drink are far more liberal today, as expressed by the fact that alcohol is relatively cheaper and much easier to get hold of. At the same time, smuggling and personal imports from abroad—especially from Sweden, which for many Norwegians is only an hour or two's drive away, and where price levels are considerably lower—have risen sharply, so annual consumption today is probably at least three times what it was. When I was a student, the few restaurants in existence had to stop serving alcohol by midnight. There was only one nightclub in Oslo, and it closed at 3 in the morning. Today, there are a vast number of licensed premises and they stay open almost all night. While we generally stopped imbibing at midnight, that is when nightlife picks up today and hardly stops before breakfast-time. Obviously, people drank then, too, but because we had less money to spend than students have nowadays drinking was confined to parties. In many ways it was a fairly innocent period in comparison. Drug use was virtually unheard of among my generation, even though it would have been easy to obtain drugs because there were fewer regulations on what doctors could prescribe. But hardly anybody thought of drugs as anything but a medical thing.

CRIMINOLOGY

  1. Top of page
  2. EARLY YEARS
  3. CRIMINOLOGY
  4. PERSPECTIVES
  5. ALCOHOL AND DRUG RESEARCH
  6. IN PUBLIC
  7. LOOKING AHEAD
  8. References

A: What led you away from your father's path as a judge, and towards criminology?

RH: Towards the end of my law studies I had to choose an elective course. To tell you the truth, I was slightly fed up with law by then and most of the elective courses were lawish: tax law, insurance law, social security law, etc. I chose criminology because it was the only option in the social sciences, and it looked more interesting than those law subjects.

A: Did criminology hold a prominent place in Norway that early?

RH: No, on the contrary, criminology was hardly considered a study at all in its own right. Denmark was the first of the Nordic countries to make a move in the area; their first university position in criminology appeared as early as 1950, and the textbook we read was a Danish one. Admittedly, the Institute for Criminology and Penal Law was set up in 1954 at the Faculty of Law, University of Oslo. But until 1959 there were no qualified applicants to the only position in criminology found at the institute, and Nils Christie was eventually given that job. In the autumn of that year I sat my law examinations and was invited to begin at the institute conducting research. In 1964 I was appointed associate professor. I was therefore the second person to join the institute.

A: Criminology today is considered largely a social science—why was the Institute under the Faculty of Law?

RH: The legendary professor of criminal law, Johs Andenæs, started the ball rolling. He was the key person at the Institute until criminal law and criminology split into two during the 1990s. His vision was for the Institute to provide a link between law studies and social science.

A: Did he succeed?

RH: Yes, by and large. One example is what was called the Saturday seminars—which took place before Saturday became a day off. They attracted a motley group of people from government and law: the prosecutor general, head of the prison service and chief justice at the supreme court, who mingled with judges, defence lawyers, public prosecutors and senior police officers, as well as people involved in criminal law research, criminology and other social sciences. While criminal law made up the focus to start with, criminology grew and in time the balance was largely as Andenæs had hoped it would be.

A: The Institute of Criminology was seen as a rebellious outgrowth on the conservative law faculty. When did that start?

RH: It was there from the outset. Some of the issues being raised by the criminal law researchers were considered highly controversial. The studies on Norway's vagrancy laws, which handed down terms of forced labour to the homeless, are the best known. A destitute, homeless alcoholic could be sentenced to hard labour in a prison-like institution for anything up to 3 years. Several critical studies were carried out on this system, and they contributed to its termination in 1970. I believe consensus was reached because academic staff at the Institute had close connections within the judicial administration right up to the national level. Research carried out at the Institute led directly to widespread campaigns during the 1960s, which pooled the resources of researchers, social workers and clients, calling for several changes in law and legal practice.

A: What was it like for a young jurist like yourself to become part of that environment?

RH: It was challenging. There were exciting issues, there was a buzz in the air, and because Norway is a small country, one moved among many influential people. I myself was taken on, admittedly, to conduct surveys of alcohol consumption among the young; not a particularly controversial matter as such, but I soon moved on to criminological studies.

A: Did the environment draw you towards the left of the political spectrum?

RH: My sympathies were already orientated towards the left. I am a pacifist, and before I started studying in 1955 I spent 18 months at a camp for conscientious objectors, digging ditches and forestry work. I belonged to a group of left-leaning socialists, although I was not active in a political party sense. However, being at the Institute did bring me in touch with lots of new ideas.

A: What was the situation concerning social sciences at that time?

RH: It was a groundbreaking period in the social sciences—including criminology. Around the mid-1950s, efforts to rebuild the northernmost regions of Norway, where the German occupation troops, retreating before an advancing Soviet army, had set fire to everything, and towns and cities in other parts of the country destroyed by bombs, were practically complete. The next step was to develop the welfare state. While architects and engineers played a key role in the reconstruction process, it was the social sciences—mainly economics, but political science, sociology and, to a certain extent, criminology as well—that were called on to help to design the welfare state. When I started working at the Institute of Criminology and Penal Law in 1960, Norway had one sociology professor and a handful of sociology students. The same applied to psychology, established slightly earlier. These subjects offered no organized training as such. The social sciences grew rapidly during the 1960s and became important university studies, including criminology, although it is more Lilliputian in comparison.

A: As long as I can remember sociologists have criticized criminologists for concentrating on qualitative methods and searching for meaning, while sociology is a science dealing in figures and hard facts. How do you view this critique?

RH: Criminology has, to a large extent, tended to attract people who speak up for the less privileged. It has therefore pursued humanitarian issues, questions which cannot really be measured by questionnaires and statistics. So there has been more qualitative research, which possibly is the result of the prominence of an ideology of understanding of, and support for, the underdog.

A: The criminal as victim as opposed to the victim of crime—is that a false dichotomy?

RH: From a research point of view, crime affects people randomly; in many cases it is accidental who becomes a victim, as many instances of theft testify, or it creates anonymous victims, such as economic criminality which affects large sections of the public collectively. There is little point in studying these victims of crime. If the crime is prompted by personal antagonism that is another thing, and victimology has, indeed, become a small but important aspect of criminology. Over the past decade or two, however, victims have been drawn increasingly into the judicial process through efforts to attain, as far as it is possible, some form of restitution for the injury they have suffered. A special area of research has emerged, known as restorative justice, which is absolutely to be welcomed. However, what is more questionable is the impact victims have, through the media and other channels, on perceptions of crime. In my opinion, this has led to a more repressive criminal justice system where revenge has come once more to the forefront. I do not believe, however, in the dichotomy between a criminal and victim perspective. It is more a matter of setting priorities. I believe criminological research, focused on the lawbreakers and social causes of crime, is a necessary and beneficial balance in a repressive period.

‘I believe criminological research, focused on the lawbreakers and social causes of crime, is a necessary and beneficial balance in a repressive period.’

A: Among your many publications is a textbook on the causes of crime. Why have you not written a book on ‘The Remedies of Crime’ too?

RH: I chose the title (Hauge 1990)—despite its archaic ring—carefully, because I sensed the concept of cause in perceptions of crime was steadily losing ground, but why crime exists and how it is defined must remain, in my view, the main criminological questions. How to remedy crime is another question altogether—especially if you are thinking of a recipe book telling you how to address crime. One could have written about different approaches advocated at different times, but that is something I do not know enough about, so I shall leave that to others. As regards belief in—or scepticism towards—punishment as a remedy, it has been one of my leading concerns, and I have written a book about that too (Hauge 1996).

PERSPECTIVES

  1. Top of page
  2. EARLY YEARS
  3. CRIMINOLOGY
  4. PERSPECTIVES
  5. ALCOHOL AND DRUG RESEARCH
  6. IN PUBLIC
  7. LOOKING AHEAD
  8. References

A: You are a citizen of a small country in terms of culture and language. Could we talk a little about your relationship to the world outside Norway? Unlike many other researchers in Norway, you write mostly in Norwegian. Why is that?

RH: I have occasionally wanted to step out into a wider linguistic area, but it was a conscious choice to write in Norwegian. Much of what I have written is not for my colleagues, but for people with an interest in the issues. If I, a Norwegian, had written in English, there would not have been many Norwegian readers and interest abroad about Norway is not unlimited, naturally enough.

A: Your first—and only—really extensive trip abroad occurred relatively early.

RH: I spent a year studying in England, 1961–62, and followed the first graduate programme in criminology at the University of Cambridge, which at the time was the only university in the United Kingdom with a department of criminology.

A: Did your stay there affect you?

RH: Yes, also in other ways than the purely academic. British criminology at the time was dominated largely by Hermann Mannheim at the London School of Economics (LSE), Max Grünhut at Oxford and, of course, Leon Radzinowicz at Cambridge—all of whom were refugees from the Continent before World War II. It meant that Continental European criminology dominated, with an emphasis on historical, legal and psychological approaches, about which I was already familiar, while I was interested mainly in the sociological perspectives developed in the United States. But I made good friends there, some of whom I am still in touch with, and I learned a great deal about British society and system of justice. And, not least, it gave me an opportunity to get to know post-war English literature, published conveniently in paperback form, making it affordable to people like me with little money.

A: And outside influences more generally, what has been their legacy?

RH: When you live in as small a country as Norway, what scientists elsewhere are doing becomes especially important. Meeting specialists from abroad, attending professional gatherings and taking part in international research projects, not to forget reading the international literature, have been vital to me as, indeed, they are to other Norwegian scientists. As it happens, I was Nordic representative for a 4-year period in the 1980s on the Criminological Council under the Council of Europe. Nordic collaboration is particularly important, and for many years I have been member of Nordic organizations in criminological research and alcohol and drug research.

A: Are there any books from international research you would like to mention?

RH: I referred to my early interest in American criminology. Edwin Sutherland's Principles of Criminology (1960) opened the doors in that respect. It was a key textbook in the United States, and was available and read here in Europe as well. That book introduced me to the Chicago School and Clifford Shaw's work, then on to Howard Becker, Robert Merton, Edwin Lemert, Albert Cohen, Erwin Goffman and the other famous US social scientists and theorists during the early post-war period.

A: You had written two books on youth and crime by the end of the 1960s, where you draw on many of these works. Are those findings still valid today?

RH: The thesis of these books (Hauge 1968, 1970) is that juvenile crime derives in many ways from association with peer groups which generate their own, idiosyncratic culture and norms. That, I believe, remains a pretty firm conclusion. Comprehending how subcultures are formed and develop is at least as important today, in western Europe, to understand why gangs seem an increasingly attractive proposition to ethnic minority youth, and we also need to remember that this is not just about juvenile crime, but also helps us to understand terrorism, for instance, and economic crime. Closed groups develop norms defining what is right and wrong, and what counts as acceptable behaviour. Everybody needs to feel accepted by their peers, and needs to know that his or her behaviour is acceptable to their own group.

A: You coined the term ‘majority misapprehension’. Is there a connection with what you just said?

RH: Yes. We asked youngsters how much they thought their peers drank, and we found that a large number of them believed their peers drank much more than themselves, and more than they revealed. They had a sort of feeling that others were ‘big drinkers’ and that they were the odd person out which, in fact, did not accord with what the others were reporting. When I studied the literature I found the same phenomenon described for other settings as well. Misapprehension of the majority's behaviour may therefore help to explain why young people feel under pressure to disregard their own ideas of right and wrong—and this is the approach I tried to elaborate, especially in my last book.

‘Misapprehension of the majority’s behaviour may therefore help to explain why young people feel under pressure to disregard their own ideas of right and wrong—and this is the approach I tried to elaborate, especially in my last book.’

ALCOHOL AND DRUG RESEARCH

  1. Top of page
  2. EARLY YEARS
  3. CRIMINOLOGY
  4. PERSPECTIVES
  5. ALCOHOL AND DRUG RESEARCH
  6. IN PUBLIC
  7. LOOKING AHEAD
  8. References

A: You have spent a large part of your career at SIFA (National Institute for Alcohol and Drug Research), or SIRUS (Norwegian Institute for Alcohol and Drug Research), as it is known today. You started working at the institute before it had even been established. How did that happen?

RH: The decision to set up the Institute was taken as early as 1959. Money was made available and a board of governors appointed. Nobody was taken on before the summer of 1960, when Sverre Brun-Gulbrandsen was named director. A decision had already been made, however, to conduct a comparative Nordic study of drinking patterns among the young, under the leadership of the well-known Finnish alcohol researcher Kettil Bruun. Nils Christie—who was chairman of the board—asked me if I would carry out the Norwegian part of the study. It led to the report Drinking Habits among Northern Youth (Bruun & Hauge 1963), which Bruun and I wrote together.

A: What prompted your interest in alcohol and drugs research?

RH: Well, neither the fact that I started researching alcohol and drugs nor became director of the Institute later was actually planned. There were no signals at the time that a new professorship in criminology would be approved in the foreseeable future, so career prospects there were not particularly bright. SIFA was therefore a good alternative. I was director for a period of 13 years, 1975–88, and after that I stayed on as a researcher. From the end of the 1960s the drug problem became a major issue. From a judicial and criminological point of view in particular, I have been more interested in drug-related than alcohol-related matters. Others at the Institute were both more able and interested in alcohol research: after all, it was an established field of study.

A: Are there any research projects at the Institute you would like to mention in particular?

RH: The most widely known projects are probably our annual surveys on young people and drinking patterns. They started as far back as 1960, and by 1968 illegal substances were included. In other words, we in Norway probably have the longest time-series in the world on substance use among the young. Ole-Jørgen Skog at the Institute has played a central role in the development of the total consumption model, and he also worked on the 1975 report on Alcohol Control Policies in Public Health Perspectives, which in many ways was decisive for the control policies of the World Health Organization (WHO) and, not least, Norwegian alcohol policy.

A: Other projects?

RH: There are several other projects which, in my opinion, stand out, although most of them have only been published in Norwegian, and are therefore inaccessible to non-Norwegian speakers. After I joined the Institute, I wrote a paper on the history of Norwegian alcohol research up to the mid-1970s, which was translated into English (Hauge 1978). Projects I have been involved in and have resulted in English-language articles include a joint Nordic, comparative alcohol study, which we conducted in 1979, where Klaus Mäkela and Jussi Simpura participated from the Finnish side, among others (Hauge & Irgens-Jensen 1986, 1987). I also worked on a couple of other comparative projects—one on alcohol and the young in the United States, Australia, France and Norway (Biddle et al. 1985a,b) and another on drink driving in the United States and Norway (Snortum et al. 1986). Today, it is increasingly common for work conducted at the Institute to be published in English.

A: In so far as we in Norway have had a state alcohol and drugs research institute since the ‘Age of Innocence’, has that affected alcohol and drug policy making and the steps put in place to address the problems?

RH: Calls from the temperance movement, which as an alliance of religious and labour organizations was once a very powerful lobby, prompted the establishment of the Institute. The Temperance Movement became a powerful body because of certain features of the Norwegian drinking pattern. Norwegians drink relatively little overall in comparison with other Europeans, but when they do drink it is in large quantities at a time. Now this causes widespread, serious social problems. Tackling drink-related problems has therefore been a central pillar of Norwegian social policy-making since the mid-1800s, and with the emergence and expansion of the welfare state alcohol research was seen as an important social policy tool. Whether the Institute has had any impact on policy making is difficult to say. Government documents often refer to research from the Institute, but whether the findings actually shape policy or are used simply to underpin political decisions already made is a moot point. One could probably say that the Institute and its work have helped to inform politicians, the media and the public on the risks of substance use, and in that sense helped to balance the often one-sided view marketed by adherents and opponents alike of official policy.

A: In your recent writing you adopt a millennial perspective. Is historical awareness important?

RH: You are thinking about the book on law and alcohol in Norway from the High Middle Ages to today (Hauge 1998). I believe history has a great deal to teach us. The alcohol and drug sector, or parts of it, display remarkably short memory spans at times. Norway is part of the Continental judicial system, where legislation is the prominent factor. The oldest Norwegian laws were compiled in the 13th century but are in fact much older, probably dating back to the Viking age. These laws made provision for alcohol, not least regarding the farming population's duty to brew ale and arrange beer-drinking gatherings. Changes in attitudes to alcohol are evident from changes in legislation. Alcohol has, at different times, been regarded as an ordinary commodity, something to tax, a luxury item, and a harmful substance in need of control. But my interest in history has grown as I have grown older myself. I have been drawn, in recent years, to exploring the historical connections both in criminal justice and alcohol research. I am currently busy with a book on psychoactive substances in a historical and cultural perspective.

A: You have been at pains to write accessibly—why?

RH: I want people to read what I write, of course. Not that I believe my books will top the charts, but because I believe people may have some interest in reading them, and because knowledge helps create a space for reflection.

A: Political circles are calling increasingly for research to be practical—and that measures put in place in virtually all areas of social policy should be based on science. Is an alcohol and drugs policy based on empirical evidence possible?

RH: I find it difficult to imagine a set of reliable and universally valid approaches with the same sort of function as they have in medicine. We have to look for the explanation of crime or drug and alcohol abuse in the individual's personality and social conditions, and they vary from person to person. The likelihood of finding clear-cut, coherent measures which work for everybody—whatever their background—is, I contend, remote. Any preventative or rehabilitative measures in this area comprise, in addition, so many different elements that separating individual elements and measuring their effect is, methodologically, virtually impossible. Crime and substance abuse are not the same as influenza or high blood pressure. There are no vaccines or pills people can take which allow blind studies and research on the effect of placebos. The best thing we can do in this area is probably to find out what does not work—and even that will be extremely difficult.

‘Crime and substance abuse are not the same as influenza or high blood pressure . . . The best thing we can do in this area is probably to find out what does not work—and even that will be extremely difficult.’

A: Is this demand for practical research felt at SIRUS?

RH: Yes, in the sense that we receive more commissions from the Ministry. But that is understandable, because we are a state institution, after all. As long as the Ministry does not interfere with the way we carry out their research commissions, it is something we can live with.

A: For many years now, you have been a university lecturer—do you enjoy teaching students?

RH: In reasonable amounts, yes, teaching has given me great pleasure. When I joined SIFA and SIRUS, I was attached to the university from 1979 to 1986 as a part-time professor of sociology, and then as professor of criminology, from 1987 to 2003. Contact with students has been rewarding, and with 10–15 hours' teaching duties per term, in addition to advisory work, the balance is about right. But I find lecturing demanding, and preparations take a great deal of time. One foot in the university, and the rest of the body in research: it has suited me down to the ground—the best of two worlds.

IN PUBLIC

  1. Top of page
  2. EARLY YEARS
  3. CRIMINOLOGY
  4. PERSPECTIVES
  5. ALCOHOL AND DRUG RESEARCH
  6. IN PUBLIC
  7. LOOKING AHEAD
  8. References

A: There is a widely known 1984 cartoon drawing in which you and the drugs police chief are tugging at either end of a drugs statistics curve; you are trying to pull it down, and he is pulling it up. Does it bear any relationship to the efforts of the Institute to offset banner headlines in the press and statements from the police?

RH: In the 1970s and 1980 s the police pursued a vigorous anti-drugs policy. Oslo, with half a million people, had for a time the biggest drug squad in Europe. They tended to exaggerate, and paint a gloomy picture of the situation. When someone came and said things were not as bad as they claimed, it was seen as an attack on the force and its expansion ambitions. It led to innumerable debates and disputes involving the police and the Institute. Every time new statistics emerged, the drugs police chief and I were called on to give a comment.

A: Did you enjoy that role?

RH: It was interesting at the start, but I soon became tired of being made to sound like a drugs liberalist, which I do not feel I am. It became very difficult to put up with insinuations of that sort—especially at meetings where parents whose children had died accused me of not taking them seriously. After many such instances, I found it hard indeed to stand the ‘narco-liberal’ label.

A: You have got yourself into the public eye regularly down the years. In 1992 you managed to irritate some members of the Storting's standing committee on social affairs—they even threatened to cut the Institute's budget in half because you were so liberal. What happened?

RH: It started when I spoke at a meeting attended by some members of said committee. I did not see my lecture as particularly controversial, but it aggravated those committee members so much they went back to the Storting and tabled a motion to cut the Institute's budget so drastically it would be tantamount to axing the Institute altogether. If that happened, we argued from our side, we would have to go to the alcohol industry for funding. I do not know why, but luckily the motion fell.

A: Recently, you got on the wrong side of the Minister of Justice with a proposal in a report issued by the Penal Code Commission, of which you were a member, to decriminalize drugs for own use. One would be forgiven for believing you enjoyed annoying the conservative establishment?

RH: As far as I know, I have only set out what has been my long-held view, i.e. that the manner in which the Norwegian judicial system treats substance users is nothing about which we have reason to be proud. But drugs policy is such a sensitive issue in Norway, no Norwegian politician hoping for re-election has dared suggest milder legal reactions or decriminalization. Instead, drugs policy has been pushed forward by parties clamouring to outbid each other in a manner unparalleled in Norway. The reaction to the majority recommendation of the Penal Code Commission is typical. The Commission worked from 1980 to 2002 to draft a new penal code. That the proposition to decriminalize use and possession of drugs for own use would be rejected was no surprise. It was a response we had anticipated, but we could not let such considerations deflect us from recommending what we believed was right. More surprising, however, when the report was submitted to the Minister, that was the only recommendation he bothered to comment upon publicly—and even before he had read it—despite the fact that the final report sets out a number of politically controversial recommendations.

LOOKING AHEAD

  1. Top of page
  2. EARLY YEARS
  3. CRIMINOLOGY
  4. PERSPECTIVES
  5. ALCOHOL AND DRUG RESEARCH
  6. IN PUBLIC
  7. LOOKING AHEAD
  8. References

A: What does the crystal ball tell you about the situation 15–20 years from now?

RH: As far as alcohol is concerned, use will probably continue to increase. We are influenced by countries where consumption levels are substantially higher than ours, and I cannot really see us moving in the opposite direction to them. Our tough retail laws are poised to fall, thanks among other things to European Union (EU) regulations on free trade. Changing conceptions of alcohol-related harm may play a part as well. Today, the focus is on heavy drinkers and the health risks to which they expose themselves, while the regulations on alcohol are based on the harm to which drinking may lead for others. Therefore, control efforts targeting the public as a whole, and measures taken to limit accessibility, have largely lost public credibility (Hauge 1999). In the case of other substances, cannabis is probably here to stay among younger users but in 20 years or so I do not think people will feel very alarmed about it. By then its use, if not legalized, at least will have been decriminalized, as it is in several European countries. And, like today, there will be a lumpen proletariat of heavy users of opiates. The use of other substances is largely governed by fashion, and predicting anything here is probably futile.

‘. . . like today, there will be a lumpen proletariat of heavy users of opiates.’

A: Will the Americans still be trying to lead the world in the War on Drugs?

RH: It does seem a valid contention that we need to visualize an external enemy to strengthen bonds internally. During the Cold War the enemy was Soviet Russia, but after the collapse of the Eastern Bloc we found a new enemy in the shape of drugs. Today, international terrorism creates widespread concern and may lead to an easing of pressure on drugs. Whatever happens, I believe that perceptions will change: instead of a crime policy issue drugs will become a social policy issue. In fact, I think the signs are there already. Although Norway is one of the most restrictive, punitive countries in Europe on drugs we have been forced to see reality for what it is, and allow maintenance treatment, needle exchange services and supervised drug injection facilities.

A: Will future drug and alcohol researchers look back at our research efforts with incredulity, and what will our current taboos look like in the future?

RH: They may possibly question our approaches. and they will doubtless agree that alcohol and drugs research would have benefited from a wider qualitative component, and that we in 2005 were so absorbed by questionnaires and mass data that we lost sight of the users and their motives; and that we did not ask often enough why they use these drugs, the meaning behind the behaviour, and did too little to elucidate the connection with their particular circumstances. I doubt whether they will see any real taboo areas. I believe most issues can be raised today, although one has to tread carefully in relation to drugs policy of course; but I am probably prejudiced. Taboos are rarely seen through the eyes of the present, are they?

A: If a young student wanted a career in research, and he asked you for your advice, what would you say to him or her?

RH: I would tell him to think twice! It is difficult to find a job today, and there are many people out there waiting. Many scientists spend their days drafting funding applications, but if they obtain funds it is only enough for low-paid, short-term projects. In my day the reverse was true—the social sciences were desperate for more people. They expanded; there were many jobs, and not enough qualified people to fill them.

A: What do you do when you are not doing research: do you have any hobbies to recharge the batteries?

RH: Work and family are the two mainstays of my life, along with holiday trips, watching movies and reading fiction.

A: You must enjoy your life as a researcher, as you choose to turn up at SIRUS every day?

RH: Yes, I enjoy the life very much indeed. and perhaps precisely because I am not a stamp collector, or play golf or cultivate roses, it was a logical step to continue doing what I have always done. Research, in a way, is both a job and a hobby—and it has been a colossal privilege. ‘I am privileged in so far as I have an opportunity to continue working’, says the new senior citizen. As long as SIRUS offers office space and the company of good colleagues, I intend to keep on coming here.

References

  1. Top of page
  2. EARLY YEARS
  3. CRIMINOLOGY
  4. PERSPECTIVES
  5. ALCOHOL AND DRUG RESEARCH
  6. IN PUBLIC
  7. LOOKING AHEAD
  8. References
  • Biddle, B. J., Bank, B. J., Anderson, D. S., Hauge, R., Keats, D. M., Keats, J. A. et al. (1985a) Comparative research on the social determinants of adolescent drinking. Social Psychological Quarterly, 48, 164177.
  • Biddle, B. J., Bank, B. J., Anderson, D. S., Hauge, R., Keats, D. M., Keats, J. A. et al. (1985b) Social influence, self-referent identity labels, and behaviour. Sociological Quarterly, 26, 159185.
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