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    This article sets out a political economic framework to understand South Africa's dramatic upsurge in heroin use in the 2000s. Drawing on interviews with users and their families, it shows how the opioid gained influence among men in their twenties living in apartheid-engineered townships marked by chronic unemployment. Giving particular attention to histories of work, it documents the ways that men hustle to generate an income to buy heroin, showing their relationship to families who support them and community members who may employ them. The article challenges the view that heroin users' income comes primarily from criminal activities, an assumption that feeds into punitive approaches to drugs. Instead, it insists that heroin hustlers must be seen as part of a large group of "laboring poor" who undertake low-paid work that does not enable desirable futures. As such, the article develops a framework that can contribute to understanding the political economy of heroin use in high-unemployment regions of the Global South. Crown Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


    Mark Hunter. Heroin hustles: Drugs and the laboring poor in South Africa. Social science & medicine (1982). 2020 Nov;265:113329

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    PMID: 32905967

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