A key practice in the social sciences is writing about people. When doing this, it is important to write in a way that respects the people you are writing about. The book, Forces of Habit, is a useful introduction to the history of drug use. However, it includes many references to people that may not be considered respectful. Below are some guidelines about good and bad practices when writing about others.
For this assignment, please choose a short passage from Forces of Habit, where you think the writing violates these guidelines.
Include the passage in quotes and explain why you think the passage violates respectful writing. Refer to specific examples from the passage and discuss those examples in reference to the guidelines below. Be sure to cite the passage you use from Forces of Habit in APA style (WITH PAGE NUMBERS)
Then describe an alternative way of writing the passage that would capture the same information but that would be more respectful. This should include a re-write of the passage placed in quotes. Justify your proposed changes by referring to the guidelines below.
Tips: It’s better to choose a shorter passage and focus in-depth on that rather than choosing a longer passage.
Please use the guidelines listed below to support your argument about why certain phrases are disrespectful and why the re-written phrases would be more respectful. Don’t just say something is derogatory or offensive. Justify why it is disrespectful or respectful with solid reasoning.
1. Avoid making generalizations about groups of people (e.g., drug users are unable to control themselves, immigrants are lazy). Generalizations are rarely true.
2. Use terms that the people you are referring to would accept as appropriate and respectful (e.g., Chinese immigrant vs. Coolie).
3. Do not define people by their disease or disability. If you are describing someone with a disease or disability, separate the person from the condition (someone with severe substance use disorder vs. drug addict, someone with leprosy vs. leper)
4. Don’t assume people’s actions simply reflect what they want. They could be facing limited choices based on their social environment. For example, don’t assume someone is not seeking care for severe substance use disorder because they think it doesn’t work or because they are too lazy. Maybe they are working two jobs and don’t have the time or money to get treatment.
5. In general, write as if the people to whom you are referring will actually read what you wrote. Try to take their perspective and consider what would be a respectful way to write about them.
Here are two websites with additional useful guidelines and rationale
https://ahamediagroup.com/blog/2019/06/writing-about-addiction-with-care-5-tips/ (Links to an external site.)

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