A thematic analysis identifying concepts of problem gambling agency: With preliminary exploration of discourses in selected industry and research documents
Keywords:problem gambling, agency, discourse, habitus, field, thematic analysis, neoliberal, individualism, harm production
The focus of this exploratory analysis was the idea and locus of agency in conceptualisations of gambling and problem/pathological gambling within corporate and academic domains as presented in public discourses. In order to unpick and analyse how such agency is being conceptualised and presented, the author carried out a preliminary thematic analysis of selected public documents. While annual financial reports, academic articles, and public testimony constituted the sample for analysis, the intention was to propose a methodology and framework of analysis that might be applied by future researchers to an expanded selection of documents deemed to be of interest. A notable overlap of themes was found wherein agency for (problematic) gambling was placed with individual gamblers against an assumed neutral backdrop of free-market forces, with industries only agentic in responding to the consumption demands of freely choosing (and implicitly self-actualising) individuals (except where credit is taken for the generation of increased consumption as translated into profits). In conclusion, it is suggested that the legitimacy and practice of political-economic and institutional analyses be reclaimed, providing complementarity to current reflections on the nature of agency and assisting us to better understand the notion of (gambling-related) harm production.
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