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PCP in the American Media: The Social Response to a Forgotten Drug Fad

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PCP in the American Media: The Social Response to a Forgotten Drug Fad

Taylor, Jacob (2011) PCP in the American Media: The Social Response to a Forgotten Drug Fad. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

Between 1977 and 1979, American society experienced a sudden, fearful reaction to the discovery that PCP, a dangerous new hallucinogenic drug, was in widespread use. This social response, powered by a surge in alarming news discussions of PCP, was intense, but it was also brief and quickly forgotten; PCP has since faded from popular memory and garnered little historical attention. Yet PCP's transience obscures its important role in the broad shift in American attitudes towards drugs that began in the late-1970s.

This thesis examines the social reaction to PCP through an analysis of the national news. Drawing from examples of newspaper, periodical, and television reporting, it traces the roots of public attention to the PCP issue and the evolution of PCP's cultural image. The first section focuses on the dramatic media representations of PCP as a cause of violence and madness in its users. I argue that despite the sympathetic manner in which PCP users were often portrayed, media depictions of crazed and violent users dehumanized their subjects and contributed to a stigmatization, not so much of drug use, but of madness. The second section focuses on media images of youth PCP use. Situating the PCP issue in the context of shifting American attitudes to drugs, I argue that images of young PCP users as victims contributed to the re-emergence in the late-1970s of a pervasive intolerance of drug use.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > History
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Taylor, Jacob
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:History
Date:15 April 2011
Thesis Supervisor(s):Carr, Graham
ID Code:7367
Deposited By:JACOB WILLIAM TAYLOR
Deposited On:09 Jun 2011 11:18
Last Modified:28 Jun 2011 08:09
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