The Nexus of Practice in Gambling Research

Gambling is a risky activity, and while it can be a fun pastime for some people, others find it destructive. Problem gambling can have negative psychological, social and financial repercussions, and is classed as an impulse control disorder in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). It’s worth remembering that, while it might feel good when things go right, most gamblers don’t win all the time and most losses will be bigger than wins. Then there are the other feelings that can come with gambling, like stress and guilt, that can build up over time.

A lot of the literature on gambling focuses on individual behaviour and addiction, but there is a growing body of research that considers the wider socio-cultural context that shapes gambling. Social practice theories offer a framework for exploring how different forces can shape a nexus of practices, including affective forces, general understandings and ideology (e.g. neoliberalism, globalisation and market ideology) [12]. A nexus of practice approach also highlights the material dimensions of gambling practices, focusing on how materials such as money, mobile phones and apps, machines and cards are used during these activities.

These kinds of studies could also look at how these practices are bundled together in particular ways, for example, with drinking or socialising. In addition, longitudinal studies could consider how the connections between gambling and other practices change over time and space.

Another area of study that may be important is how gambling intersects with wider societal issues such as economic development, globalisation and political governance. For instance, scholars working from a critical perspective have highlighted the neoliberal infused political economy of gambling, arguing that it is a global industry that profits from exploitation and commodification rooted in neoliberal ideas of capital, free markets, and privatisation. However, it might be more useful to work from a normative perspective and highlight the positive contributions that can be made by the gambling industry, particularly in developing countries. It might be important to consider how the industry can better support responsible gambling and help its customers manage their finances. This would include providing educational material and introducing new payment methods that are more sustainable than those which involve debt. It might also be helpful to introduce mandatory gambling literacy courses for all customers. And finally, it might be possible to introduce more gambling venues, which would provide a safer environment for customers and reduce the likelihood of problematic behaviour. It might also be useful to provide counselling for those who have been harmed by gambling, and this could include family therapy and marriage, career or credit counseling. These services could help individuals work through the specific problems that they have created for themselves, such as debt or strained relationships with family and friends. They might also encourage them to think about other hobbies and pastimes that they can enjoy.