Pushing the Limits: An Ethnography of Performance-Enhancing Drugs in Dutch Academic Environments
Purtschert Baquerizo, P.
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"It seems plausible to argue that the consumption of the so-called performance enhancers among students in Dutch academic environments can be traced back to values cherished in neoliberalizing societies. However, if we are to understand how these young adults make use and make sense out of these cultural technologies it is important to go beyond the fact that these are imbricated in broader discourses of achievement, focus, and efficiency. Previous approaches often lack a nuanced comprehension on how such practices of consumption might be shaping people s (internal) lifeworlds. Therefore, this thesis advocates for the need to engage with collaborative methodologies that are willing to deal with the unobservable realms of life. Revolting around the use of cognitive enhancers, the following ethnography explores how said sector of the young population contests and takes part in the (co)construction of their daily presents and futures while they learn to navigate in environments often times perceived as demanding. In order to grasp the complexity surrounding the consumption of performance enhancing drugs, this thesis will be built upon four main axes (internal lifeworlds, performances of consumption, the achievement society, ideas of the future) which cannot be understood independently and will fill in the gaps between one another. The first chapter deals with the more technical aspects and methodological choices; the second chapter looks at the different self-styling techniques employed by the students by looking and analysing individual accounts and experiences; the third chapter pays attention to the prevailing structural ideologies in the current global political economy; and lastly, the whole discussion will be articulated with the ever-growing ideas of the future and its technologies. This is the result of three months of ethnographic fieldwork and was possible thanks to the contributions of a group of students who engaged in the exploration of their own internal lifeworlds."