Prohibition: The History of Bad Behaviour

Course Code: HIST 2002

Academic Year: 2021-2022

We are currently living in an era of Prohibition: possession and trafficking of substances such as marijuana, heroin, and cocaine are illegal, as are behaviours such as polygamy, and procuring prostitution. Smoking in a bar used to be commonplace; now it can land you with a hefty fine. What motivates governments to engage in such social control? What members of society use their power to impose their values on others? What are the consequences of these different forms of moral regulation? This course examines three hundred years of the regulation of behaviours and substances believed to be 'bad' in North America. It introduces students to some of the most recent scholarship on social and moral regulation, focusing on issues such as smoking, gambling, alcohol and drug consumption, prostitution, venereal diseases and sex education, homosexuality, abortion, and pornography. Regulation of these practices has been the work of reformers, social and commercial interest groups, religious and morally based organizations, as well as the state through law enforcement agencies, courts, and educational systems. At different points in history these various groups worked together to have their views imposed on Canadian and American societies. In this course we will trace the evolution of these regulation movements and determine how successful they were in shaping discourse, influencing state policies, and creating a morally 'better' world. Category and Level: Arts and Humanities, Lower Level Restrictions: None