Collaborative study explores global advertising of psychoactive substances

The Digital Research Centre supports an ongoing study by researchers from USask and McMaster as they look at how advertisers encouraged consumers to govern themselves through psychoactive substances

Psychoactivity for Sale: The Global Advertising of Psychoactive Substances, 1886-2001 is a SSHRC Insight Grant funded study led by Erika Dyck of the University of Saskatchewan and Mathew Saveli of McMaster University.

Pills, powders, liquids, and leaves – ranging from alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco to opioids, cannabis, and Valium – have been entrenched as essential components of people’s everyday routines for centuries.  And so, in many ways, this is a study of human history and our unquenched curiosity to try, to know, to heal, to fear, and to sell psychoactive substances.

The concurrent rise of the psy-ences, and the commodification of experience in pill form has hastened this connection between globalization and the history of pharmacy.

Images courtesy E.Dyck
Images courtesy E.Dyck

In this study researchers explore how advertisers encouraged consumers to govern themselves through psychoactive substances. 

By focusing on advertising, the work looks at how commercial actors drew upon ideas of the psy-ences, promising citizens the ability to control and alter their everyday moods, perceptions, feelings, and energy levels through psychoactivity. All the while these commerical entities were turning a profit and introducing the idea that taking pills is part of what it means to be modern.

With a team consisting of researchers from across Canada, it was important that the processes and systems used could enable sharing and collaboration. By setting up a collection in a digital asset management system and developing useful metadata for searching and sharing content, the DRC has aided in the collaborative efforts of the researchers and provided a repository of research content for long-term accessibility. 

Please contact us if you have questions about the systems and services used to support this research.