Joint UvA (ASCH) - UU project receives NWO Free Competition grant

30 June 2015

ASCH researcher dr. Gemma Blok, in collaboration with prof. James Kennedy and prof. Toine Pieters (UU), have been awarded an NWO Free Competition grant (€ 750.000) for their project 'The Imperative of Regulation: local and (trans-)national dynamics of drug regulatory regimes in the Netherlands since the Second World War'. A total of 71 full proposals were considered in this assessment round, of which 6 were awarded funding.

Project summary 

Dutch drug policies since the Second World War have oscillated between tolerance and repression of drug use. However, whether tolerant or restrictive, pragmatic or moralistic, from a historical perspective drug policies in the Netherlands have shown a structural undercurrent of increasing regulation, despite their internationally (in)famous reputation in leading in the decriminalization of drug use and in public health harm reduction policies. In other Western countries, too, increased institutionalised interventions in drug use have gone hand in hand with fluctuations in strategies and approaches. 

The development of, and swings within, the regulatory imperative have been inadequately explained, as researchers are focused too narrowly on a univocal – and unique – national drug policy-making process. Historical analysis, too, is limited in scope. Instead, this project broadens the research vistas and investigates drug regulation in the Netherlands as historically resulting from the interaction with several important areas: the development of drug economies, shifting public perceptions about drug use, and the dynamics of local drug politics. How and to what extent did these economic and socio-cultural settings, and differentiated forms of policy-making, influence and modify Dutch drug regulation? Within this project we will explain the development and intensification of drug regulatory regimes in the post-war period. Moreover and crucially, we will relate Dutch drug regulatory regimes to European and transnational developments. Finally, the results of this innovative approach and its implications for research and policy will be integrally disseminated and discussed, with both academic colleagues and public stakeholders in the Netherlands and in Europe.

About NWO Free Competition Humanities

Within the Free Competition Humanities, researchers can apply for funding for curiosity-driven research that fits within the humanities.