Schull, Natasha Dow. “Escape mechanism”. Berkeley Center for Working Families Working Paper No. 41, Berkeley, CA: Center for Working Families, University of California, Berkeley, 2002. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/4122.
In this working paper I explore the links between caretaking responsibilities, video poker machines, and female compulsive gambling. Drawing on ethnographic observations and interviews with women video poker addicts in Las Vegas, I suggest that they have discovered a highly addictive mechanism of escape from what they experience as an excess of relational demands at home and at work. The aims of this paper are twofold: (1) I argue that the desire for such an escape is symptomatic of unresolved anxieties and tensions surrounding the place of care in our discursively individualist society, and, (2) I argue that the gaming industry, by engineering consumer technologies that capitalize on this desire, is implicated in the phenomenon of machine addiction among women. These arguments offer alternatives to a neoliberal understanding of excessive gambling as poor exercise of "free choice" and a related biomedical understanding of excessive gambling as a genetically based "pathology."