Liviu's research interests sit at the crossroads of sociology, criminology and media/culture studies, with a strong focus on critical drug studies and social theory.
His main goal is to explore ways in which socio-criminological, theory-informed critical thinking can explain acts, material realities and 'moral careers' of deviance and crime, as well as the 'spoiled identities' and negative labels attached to them by wider society. He has developed a rather 'figurational' approach to this, focusing on discourse, power and ideology, on one side, but also looking into how these flow and cascade ‘on the ground’, at a more grassroots level of meaning and practice, on the other. This also reflects his commitment and ability to do discourse analysis (media, policy, moral entrepreneurship) at the macro-cultural level, but also to do grassroots immersive research (expert and lay interviews, ethnography) at the micro-field level.
Liviu's recent research deals with the often blurry boundaries between recreational and medical substance use. It focuses on people who inject drugs within opiate substitution treatment settings and the various meanings and practices they could attach to new psychoactive substances (NPS) or (now former) ‘legal highs’ which they integrated into their own repertoires. It is largely based on qualitative in-depth interviews with users and health workers, but also on firsthand field observational data. This has allowed him to develop specialist knowledge in the areas of drug use, harm, policing and policy-making. He has extensively researched and written on drug policy and reform topics, for both academic and non-academic audiences.
At the moment, he is also working on analysing and theorising popular media reporting around the figure of the 'Spice zombie', which ridicules the increased visibility of vulnerable rough sleepers on synthetic cannabinoids ('Spice') within public spaces. He critiques this as another instance of underclass stigma, that dismisses and deflects attention away from the toxic effects of economic austerity.