Greg Scott is the director of the Social Science Research Center and a professor in the department of sociology at DePaul University where he teaches courses on substance use and abuse, underground economies, street gangs, consciousness, urban culture, ethnographic documentary film production, photographic/visual sociology, and other topics. He combines quantitative/epidemiological and qualitative/ethnographic methods to research issues stemming from the interaction of structural, network and micro-interactional forces in the illicit drug economy. His specific interests include heroin/opiate overdose morbidity and mortality, drug injection hygiene, the social life of viral and bacterial infections among active illicit drug users, iatrogenic effects of anti-drug law enforcement and the development of communal systems within outlaw communities.
Greg received a PhD in sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1997 and became an assistant professor in the department of sociology at DePaul University in Chicago in 2000. Over the previous decade, he conducted extensive ethnographic fieldwork on drug-dealing street gangs by immersing himself in the heroin and cocaine commerce underground. In 2001 he began a close examination of the “demand and use” aspect of the drug market by living with homeless and precariously housed injection drug users, habitual crack smokers, sex workers, burglars, thieves and drug dealers.
Greg’s semi-traditional ethnographic and epidemiological research has led him recently into producing and directing independent documentary film and radio projects that concentrate on the social, economic, cultural, political and health issues that illicit drug users face. His filmmaking centers on 1) training films for health professionals and laypersons who work with injection drug users and 2) social documentaries to acquaint the public and policy makers with the drug user population.
In 2005 Greg established Sawbuck Productions, a non-profit organization dedicated to create and produce multi-media educational and political materials that concern the well-being of illicit drug users. He has shown his documentaries at film festivals around the world and his work has appeared on television, including the National Geographic Network, BET Network, MSNBC. Currently he is completing production of a feature documentary, “The Brickyard: ‘Home of All the Junkies,’” a film set in the encampment of some 150 mostly homeless drug users and sex workers on Chicago’s west side. His film “Begging for Grace,” which documents the daily life of a panhandling homeless heroin addict named Freeway, was an official selection of the International Documentary Challenge at the 2007 HotDocs Film Festival in Toronto, Canada, and was recently acquired for commercial distribution.
In 2008 Greg began working as a freelance audio documentarian for Chicago Public Radio’s WBEZ where he produces and directs 8-12-minute stories about street life within Chicago’s “undergrounds.” Topics have included prostitution, heroin overdose and drug selling. His radio series “The Brickyard” relates stories about outlaw communities of heroin addicts, crack smokers, prostitutes, thieves, drug dealers and others living on Chicago’s west side.