Canadian Forest Service Publications
Linking social structure, fragmentation, and substance abuse in a resource-based community. 2011. Parkins, J.R.; Angell, A.C. Community, Work and Family 14(1):39-55.
Issued by: Northern Forestry Centre
Catalog ID: 35833
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Drawing on case-study research from a rural, resource-based community in Alberta, Canada, this paper explores the social and economic context of substance abuse. Specifically, the linkages between social structure, community fragmentation, and family dysfunction offer a way of understanding differential resistance and susceptibility to substance abuse. Five thematic areas were linked to susceptibility in this study: (1) an economy based on multiple divergent sectors, which gives rise to income disparity and social inequality; (2) a highly transient population, which results in social distancing and lack of social support; (3) shift work, which prevents opportunities for consistent and productive family and community relationships; (4) high incomes, which lead to material competition and financial stress; and (5) a culture of entitlement, which produces certain expectations and perceived privileges among some workers and their families. Our findings are consistent with previous research on the link between substance abuse and shift work, work environments, and the social conditions in boomtowns. But this paper also identifies novel themes, such as high incomes and a culture of entitlement, and introduces the notion of slow disasters and cumulative risk histories to help explain susceptibility to substance abuse within this rural community.