Myth Making, Juridification, and Parasitical Discourse: A Barthesian Semiotic Demystification of Canadian Political Discourse on Marijuana

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Title: Myth Making, Juridification, and Parasitical Discourse: A Barthesian Semiotic Demystification of Canadian Political Discourse on Marijuana
Authors: Crépault, Daniel Pierre-Charles
Date: 2019-04-24
Abstract: The legalization of marijuana in Canada represents a significant change in the course of Canadian drug policy. Using a semiotic approach based on the work of Roland Barthes, this dissertation explores marijuana’s signification within the House of Commons and Senate debates between 1891 and 2018. When examined through this conceptual lens, the ongoing parliamentary debates about marijuana over the last 127 years are revealed to be rife with what Barthes referred to as myths, ideas that have become so familiar that they cease to be recognized as constructions and appear innocent and natural. Exploring one such myth—the necessity of asserting “paternal power” over individuals deemed incapable of rational calculation—this dissertation demonstrates that the processes of political debate and law-making are also a complex “politics of signification” in which myths are continually being invoked, (re)produced, and (re)transmitted. The evolution of this myth is traced to the contemporary era and it is shown that recent attempts to criminalize, decriminalize, and legalize marijuana are indices of a process of juridification that is entrenching legal regulation into increasingly new areas of Canadian life in order to assert greater control over the consumption of marijuana and, importantly, over the risks that this activity has been semiologically associated with. Although the government’s legalization decision seems to be a liberalization of drug policy at odds with processes of juridification, it is shown that legalization’s transformation of irrational and criminal marijuana users into legitimate consumers subject to a strict regulatory framework is entirely compatible with a neo-liberal perspective that is saturated by the myth of irrationality and the necessity of paternal power. The reaching of this counterintuitive conclusion helps demonstrate this dissertation’s primary contribution: the illustration of the value of Barthesian semiotics as a means of producing new and alternative insights into seemingly familiar criminological issues.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/39094
http://dx.doi.org/10.20381/ruor-23342
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -
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