‘Following the money’: The political economy of gambling research

Abstract

Comments on the articles by Howard J. Shaffer and Debi A. LaPlante (see record 2012-34511-002) and Rachel A. Volberg and Matt Wray (see record 2012-34511-003) on the original article (see record 2012-34511-001). At its heart, my essay was about what research we do, why we do it, and whose interests it serves. I argued that problem gambling prevalence studies (PGPSs) are symptomatic of a research system that is more concerned with the reproduction of the status quo than one geared towards the reduction of gambling-related harm. Shaffer and LaPlante leading practitioners of the 'psy' sciences, take my critical, political economy argument and recast it in a language of scientific method. They argue that critical analysis may only be validated as knowledge if it is translated into 'testable theory' as exemplified by the natural rather than social sciences. This form of scientism leads them to extract causal hypotheses that were not present in my analysis, for example that more epidemiology will produce a larger industry and more problem gamblers. Their response amounts to more than a fundamental misunderstanding of the essay - it is an attempt to privilege one form of understanding and claim to knowledge over another. As Volberg and Wray argue, within the commercial gambling system there is a structural perspective that needs to be fully articulated and resisted. I have pointed out, for example, that the problem gambler category was not solely produced by the psy sciences, but by an assemblage of forces including changing morality and technology, and the increased affluence of working classes. I also argued that there is a relationship between the creation of the problem gambler category and the redistribution of resources across class lines. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)

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