9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN33 Women's and Gender Studies

2009-09-05 09:00:00 2009-09-05 10:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 09:00 - 10:30 The Gender Construction of Criminalisation and Violence Against Women Building II, C4.02

Gender, Prisons and Drug Abuse

We gather here results from two different research projects one about drugs and prisons and the other one about life trajectories of female and male drug consumers. We discuss some examples of how gender shapes life course and is constantly at stake whether we are talking about organisational issues - trajectories of male and female prison's directors, for example - types of crimes committed and their relation to drugs, or family patterns histories and practises with intimate perceptions of drug addict's.

The first research findings, about Drugs and Prisons, were obtained through a survey questionnaire applied both in 2001 and in 2007 to a representative sample of all the inmates of the Portuguese prisons and through a questionnaire applied to all the prison's directors. With the survey to the inmates we could analyse what were the types of crimes committed and what was their relation with drugs, among a lot of other issues. Gender differences were systematically analysed. Through a multivariate analysis we could clearly identify gender patterns distinguishing both female and male inmate's trajectories. With the results of the questionnaire to the prison's directors, using also with multivariate analysis, it was possible to draw a picture of how gender inequality is still present even when - and this was a surprising finding - the majority of the prisons' directors are now women?

The main goals of the second research were to understand and to explain the social processes, the family patterns and the individual features that can contribute to drug addiction. We were trying to answer questions like: why so many young people experiment drugs and only few become addicts? Why in the same family context siblings have different attitudes and behaviours towards drugs? Why are there so much more male than female addicts? How does gender construction plays a role? With the general purpose of answering these questions we started a research using different research techniques: the analysis of a database of a centre for drug addicts treatment in Lisbon; a follow-up study of a group of patients; in-depth interviews with a comparative analysis of the individual histories.