The communicative construction of ‘pathological’ gamblingA sociology of knowledge approach to the parliamentary discourse on gambling addiction in the Federal Republic of Germany

The project aims at reconstructing the ongoing process of communicative construction of excessive gambling as an ‘addiction’ – thus as a treatable and manageable ‘disease’. The study will examine the debates in eight state parliaments of the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Bundestag since the 1980s.

Doubtlessly the parliamentary discourse is part of a larger discourse formation, in which several participants (lobby organizations, churches, think tanks of political parties, welfare organizations, the constituencies of representatives, the media and many more) are trying to establish their point of view and to push through their particular interests. Because a large portion of this discourse takes place hidden from sight, the study will not try to reconstruct the discourse as a whole. Instead it will examine the discourse in a nutshell on the level of parliamentary debates asking how and with which arguments, from which political parties and in which constellations the interpretative pattern of ‘addiction’ has continually won ground.

Analyzing the discourse on excessive gambling this study will not only identify arguments, processes and dynamics of the discursive reinterpretation of a social problem – and thus lead to results useful for the sociology of knowledge in general as well as for a diagnosis of contemporary society. Furthermore it aims at detecting new and not yet dominant lines of discourse, which in coming years may become very significant not only in the discourse, but in the societal understanding of excessive gambling. Methodologically, the study refers to a sociology of knowledge approach to discourse.