Contact person:
Torkel Richert
  • Riksbankens Jubileumsfond
Responsible at Malmö University:
Torkel Richert
Project members:
Collaborators and other project members:
  • Esben Houborg Centre for Alcohol and Drug Research - Copenhagen
Time frame:
01 January 2019 - 31 December 2021
Research environment :
Research subject:

About the project

Persons who frequently use or inject illegal drugs constitute a vulnerable group in society. They experience significant problems related to physical and psychological health and to their social and financial situations. Moreover, the group has a high mortality rate. In most large cities in Europe there are public spaces where drugs are sold and used openly. Such open drug scenes are associated with criminality and violence and are often seen as nuisances by the public. However, open drug scenes can also be viewed as potential arenas for prevention efforts and harm reduction measures from social welfare institutions, since they constitute social spaces for people who use drugs.

This project is collaborative and builds upon ethnographic research conducted in Denmark and Norway about local responses to open drug scenes in relation to the need to balance public health and public order. Equivalent research in Sweden is lacking. The research project will use ethnographic methods to study everyday lives, social marginalization, vulnerability and health-related risks of problem drug users who frequent urban drug scenes in Malmö. It will also consider how local police and social welfare services intervene in drug scenes. The project will use the three cases of Malmö, Copenhagen and Bergen to develop a theoretical framework for understanding how drug scenes are targeted within social welfare settings and the consequences diverging policy approaches have for problem drug users.