Cultures of Addiction




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Cambria Press



Peer reviewed



Different cultures and the specific culture manifested within them are intrinsically linked to addiction in a complex fashion which has a long history. For important thinkers, such as Nietzsche, addiction actually embodies human culture, rendering addiction and culture inseparable. This is clearly seen within the Western world’s addiction to the consumption of material goods and the damage that results.

Utopia has often become dystopia. Not only is an understanding of addiction key to understanding culture but to an understanding of the very act thinking itself and the way of being in the world. Addiction raises key philosophical questions, such as: do people really have a choice in their behavior, and what governs them; is it free will or predetermination? Is it biology or environment is it the external world or the internal that drives addiction, or a complex combination of both?

In a contemporary context the media frenzy around celebrity addiction continually fuels public debate in this area, and this book deepens the understanding of addiction within this contentious context. This book addresses a key concern over how addiction became the norm, and it seeks to understand its dominance comprehensively. How did it come to pass that not being an addict was a transgressive act and way of being?

While there has been a great deal of debate about addiction utilizing the discourse of individual and often competing disciplines such as biology and psychology, little attention has been paid to the cultural aspects of addiction. The innovative approach taken by this book is to offer insights into this complex area through a contemporary methodology that covers diverse interrelated areas. Drawing on different disciplines, offering deeper insights, from the analysis of music lyrics to empirical social science and anthropological work in AA groups in Mexico and the portrayal of the “addiction’ to therapy in film and television, amongst other areas, this book addresses the need for a more comprehensive approach.

Academic analysis is also given to the discourse on celebrity culture and addiction. A contemporary fusion of the humanities and the social sciences is the best way forward to tackle this subject and move the debate on. The focus of this study is an innovative interdisciplinary and intercultural approach to addiction, from the social sciences to the humanities, including cultural studies, film and media studies, and literary studies. Areas that have been overlooked, such as lost women’s writings, are examined, in addition to comics, popular film and television, and the work of AA groups.

This edited collection is the first study to provide such a comprehensive analysis of the cultures of addiction. Traversing cultures across the globe, including Asia, Central America, as well as Europe and America, this book opens up the debate in addiction studies and cultural studies. The important insights the book delivers helps to answer questions such as: In what way can Deleuze further the understanding of addiction through the analysis of rock lyrics? How does anthropology improve the understanding of AA groups? How can cultural studies deepen knowledge on the “addiction” to therapy? These are just some of the vast array of areas this book covers. Other areas include the condemnation of “addiction” to comic reading through an historical examination, violence in popular culture, and lost women’s writing on addiction. No other book has such depth and contemporary breadth.

Cultures of Addiction is an important book for those taking cultural studies courses across a range of interrelated disciplines, including English and literary studies, history, American studies, and film and media studies. This will be invaluable to library collections in these fields and beyond in the social sciences, and specifically in addiction studies and psychology.



film, feminist writing, music, addiction, violence, pornography, madness, comics, celebrity


Lee, J. (2012), ed., Cultures of Addiction. Cambria Press.


Research Institute

Media Discourse Centre (MDC)
Cinema and Television History Institute (CATHI)