Anti-Oppressive Practice in Harm Reduction
thesisposted on 22.05.2021, 11:43 by Travis Cross
This study interrogates the current neoliberal harm reduction model and examines antioppressive practice within harm reduction through the following research question: how do harm reduction workers in Toronto address structural processes of oppression through their work? Three harm reduction workers participated in one-on-one, semi-structured interviews for this study, and were asked to discuss their understandings and experiences with harm reduction and anti-oppression. Through a phenomenological analysis of participant responses, three themes were developed: participants conceptualize harm reduction beyond personal substance use; facilitate peer engagement and mobilization; and challenge incarceration, policing, and surveillance. These findings indicate that research participants engage in multiple forms of politicized practice that collectively challenge the neoliberal tenet of personal responsibility within harm reduction, as well as the role of the criminal justice system in the lives of people who use drugs. This study concludes with implications for social work practice and research.