Margaret Dechman – Examining Social Exclusion, Addiction, and Conflicts with the Law

Margaret DechmanMargaret Dechman, Associate Professor of Sociology, will participate in two panel discussions on university-community partnerships and providing healthcare to marginalized populations as a part of CBU’s Research Month which kicked off on March 1.

Margaret has been with CBU for five years, teaching and researching the development of processes of social exclusion and the influences of these processes on addictions and conflicts with the law. Margaret says her ultimate goal is to better understand the conditions under which our lives proceed in personally and socially rewarding directions or conversely spin off in directions that neither we nor anyone else would recommend.

“I originally became interested in such questions because of my work with people who find themselves in what government policy analysts refer to as ‘end-of-the-line services’. These services come into play when things go wrong, for example, incarceration facilities, detoxification units, and/or income assistance,” Margaret says.

Margaret says she enjoys unravelling the entanglement of personal predispositions, interpersonal experiences, and larger system characteristics that lead in desirable and undesirable directions and says it is a fascinating pursuit. “The more one immerses oneself in such questions, through what is referred to as a multi-dimensional life-course analysis, the more clearly one comes to see how interconnections and compounding effects entrench certain pathways over the course of our lives,” she says.

Working with the Ally Centre of Cape Breton and Mental Health and Addictions Services, she and her team are trying to better understand the health-care needs of people who inject drugs. She says the research began by conducting focus groups and in-depth interviews with individuals who were injecting, volunteers who distributed sterile needles, and health-care providers. They then built on their findings by conducting a survey aimed at quantifying the pervasiveness of identified health issues.