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Author Topic: Subcultural evolution and illicit drug use  (Read 2192 times)

Offline Chip (OP)

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Subcultural evolution and illicit drug use
« on: August 19, 2017, 06:42:31 PM »
source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3690817/

Subcultural evolution and illicit drug use

here is the redacted, edited version and if you find it interesting then take the source link to get the whole story.

Abstract

This article articulates a subcultural basis to the evolving popularity for different illicit drugs primarily based on empirical research in the United States, especially among inner-city populations. From this perspective, drug use emerges from a dialectic between drug subcultures with individual identity development. The prevailing culture and subcultures affect drugs’ popularity by imparting significance to their use. Innovations, historical events, and individual choices can cause subcultures to emerge and change over time. This subcultural view provides insight into the widespread use of licit drug, the dynamics of drug eras (or epidemics), the formation of drug generations, and the apparent “gateway” phenomenon.

Drug subcultures

For our purposes, we view culture as simultaneously encompassing multiple subcultures (or toolkits) that include constellations of connected values, symbols, norms, and behavior patterns. These subcultures can be based around drug use, ethnicity, religion, region, or a variety of other affiliations. We operationalize the term drug subculture as an inter-related cluster of cultural elements associated with the consumption of an illicit drug in social settings. For example, youths may insist on smoking their marijuana in a blunt, drink 40-ounce bottles of malt liquor, listen to rap music, wear baggy pants, define marijuana as not a drug, and socialize mainly with other blunt smokers.

We do not conceptualize drug subcultures as necessarily dominating individuals’ lives, although some drug subcultures certainly may dominate some persons’ lives. Drug subcultures differ regarding the extent to which they represent an occasional leisure activity versus a lifestyle, an amusement versus a worldview, and an interest occasionally shared with others versus a group affiliation demanding limited association with nonmembers. Individuals will differ as to the extent to which they become involved with a drug subculture. Furthermore, individuals may act completely differently in different social contexts. Anderson (1999) described how many inner-city youths code-switch or shift their behaviors depending on whether an occasion calls for street (and drug using) or decent subcultural behavior. Individuals may engage in more than one drug subculture. Individuals may end their involvement with a drug subculture. Drug subcultures can differ across locations and across the groups that instantiate them. Moreover, drug subcultures can evolve or even disappear over time.

Ecological studies have similarly observed this type of subcultural relativism and multiple affiliations in secondary schools. Studies found that youths tended to organize themselves into “crowds,” to which they gave labels such as the populars, the brains, the nerds, the jocks, and the druggies. Youths easily identified crowd members by their appearance, attitude, and behavior patterns. In one sense, crowd membership appeared to loom large in individuals’ lives. Crowds often insisted that members conform to group substance use norms. It was concluded that:

Asking some teenagers to give up smoking is tantamount to asking them to give up their identity (if smoking is the hallmark of the druggie crowd) or their credibility in a crowd that represents the only peer support system they have.

However, youths in these studies still displayed much personal autonomy. Quite often youths chose a crowd based on their desire to engage in the group’s norms. So, a crowd’s cultural characteristics often reflected the interests and identity of the individuals as opposed to the other way around. Moreover, crowd membership was ultimately voluntary. Not all youths were involved with a crowd; and some youths were positioned as partially belonging to two or more crowds.

A culture-identity coproduction dialectic

Our theory holds that culture and individual identity engage in a dialectic of coproduction. The prevailing drug subcultures and individuals’ social position relative to them define the range of drugs readily available, the symbolic significance of their use, how use can lead to various affiliations, and the social consequences for both use or non-use (also see Hammersley, Jenkins & Reid, 2001). In this manner, culture and identity are constructed from the same source material. However, culture and drug subcultures depend on individuals as much as individuals base their experiences within the prevailing culture.

People are not passive victims of culture. They have agency. Each person has three basic choices regarding their reaction to a drug subculture: adopt, adapt or reject. We contend this process represents a symbolic interaction that often occurs subliminally in the course of daily activity.

Symbolic interactionism sees meanings as social products as creations that are formed in and through the defining activities of people as they interact. …The actor selects, checks, suspends, regroups, and transforms the meanings in the light of the situation in which he is placed and the direction of his action. Accordingly, interpretation should not be regarded as a mere automatic application of established meanings but as a formative process in which meanings are used and revised as instruments for the guidance and formation of action.

Thus, the future of any drug subculture and its place within the larger culture depends on the extent that people continually adopt it and perpetuate its conduct norms. Drug subcultures can die out as people reject them. New subcultures emerge through the process of persons adapting existing cultural elements to their circumstances. Hence, the prevailing drug subcultures can vary substantially over time, across locations, and with social position.

Identity development and drug use

Our theory incorporates aspects of the social learning and life course perspectives in viewing identity development as following an imitative and adaptive process (often un-self-consciously) that differs at successive ages and that occurs within a socio-historical context. At the earliest ages, home and family represent the primary influence in young children’s lives. Within this context, parents’ and other older household members’ behaviors define the standards that children adopt, adapt or reject. Accordingly, children that grow up among illicit drug users may choose to become drug users, perhaps even at an early age.

Drug use tends to change over the life course. Young adults often conceive of illicit drug use as incompatible with the cultural expectations associated with their new social roles as employees, adult members of the community, and parents. Prior research found many reduce or eliminate their use of illicit drugs with time, with maturation and especially as they assume conventional adult roles such as marriage and parenthood.

Conclusions

Our theory of subcultural evolution and illicit drug use provides a powerful framework for understanding the prevailing drug use trends and their socio-cultural significance. This theory has served in our empirical study of illicit drug use in the U.S. since World War II, especially among inner-city populations. The development of this theory has followed a hermeneutic process over the course of our research careers guiding empirical inquiry, drawing on observations, and always seeking to incorporate insights from other research and theories for enrichment. This frame has helped explain the dynamics of several major phenomena such as drug eras (or epidemics), drug generations, and the gateway phenomenon. It has also proven useful to the ethnographic study of the lived experience providing insight into intergenerational transmission of behaviors, the interconnection between behaviors, and the subcultural significance of human activity.

We view our theory as both incomplete and limited. The theory does not specify the nature of trigger events that lead to the expansion or decline of a drug era. Indeed, it may not be possible to accurately identify such conditions, given the multiplicity of possible factors that can effect subcultural evolution. There are various other limitations. The theory says little about the influences of drug pharmacology and set on a person’s drug use experiences. The theory does not specify risk and protective factors associated with the etiology of drug use, with the strong exception of birth year, which is often overlooked in other conceptualizations. The theory does not examine the short- and long-term consequences of use. The theory does not examine how and why social structural impediments render disadvantaged persons at greater risk of drug abuse problems, although not necessarily greater risk of use. By not describing these dynamics, the theory is compatible with other theories that do address these aspects of the drug use experience.

Our subcultural perspective on illicit drug use blends aspects of both classical writing on culture as a comprehensive social system and more recent postmodern writing that emphasizes personal agency along with the flow of ideas without borders. We speculate that the quality of the fit, between this theory and the data we analyzed, owes to an appropriate mix of cultural conformance and plasticity within the populations we have studied. Within inner-city communities, there have been strong peer expectations to conform to the prevailing standards for dress, musical taste, interpersonal behavior, and drug use. At the same time, these standards have been shifting over time. We suspect that the evolutionary part to our theory would be completely unnecessary to the study of substance use within traditional societies with a persistent dominant culture. On the other side, we suspect the geographically-bound diffusion part to our theory would be less relevant to the study of technologically advanced, wealthier populations with greater access to worldwide communication and a less pronounced affiliation with a single cultural community.

Acknowledgments

Preparation of this article was supported by grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (1 R01 DA/CA13690-02, 1 R01DA09056-07, 1 R01DA05126-08), and by National Development and Research Institutes
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Offline Thoms

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Re: Subcultural evolution and illicit drug use
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2017, 05:26:21 AM »
They missed meth? Lol at the blunt era. Sort of interesting to read about drugs from a sociological standpoint. I think it was a decent try but a good bit off. It seemed like a college student trying to pass a sociology class.
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Fear and self loathing in thoms.

Offline Chip (OP)

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Re: Subcultural evolution and illicit drug use
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2017, 08:23:48 AM »
exactly. only us folks truly have a feel for the machinations of the drugs taken and their subculture.

they didn't delve deeply into the personal psychological reasons behind the drugs that work for us.

and the motivating factors.
and the personalities of their sources.
and availability.
and the evolving legal status.
and the criminal element.
and the exploitation and desperation.

etc.
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All activities discussed are considered fictional and hypothetical. Information of all discussion has been derived from online research and in the spirit of personal Freedom.

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