Group solidarity in a hostile milieu: Immigrant experiences in a street-based drug scene
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Original versionDrugs: education prevention and policy 2014 10.3109/09687637.2014.993921
Street-based drug scenes are typically portrayed as lacking in solidarity. Studies frequently cast camaraderie as solely instrumental, highly conditional and temporary. The aim of this article is to explore social dynamics and group solidarity in a seemingly hostile drug scene, and demonstrate the importance of this milieu for a group of immigrant men. Data was drawn from ethnographic fieldwork in the street-based drug scene in the downtown parts of Oslo, Norway. The fieldwork included participant observation, informal conversations and 17 interviews with street-based drug users. Drug transactions, viewed as interaction rituals, may help create group solidarity among the members of the scene. Group solidarity is displayed in social bonds that drew former members back to the scene and in the inclusion of isolated, immigrant men. The street-based drug scene in Oslo, with its repeated interaction rituals and bonds of group membership, provides a community for people who experience low degrees of solidarity elsewhere, as demonstrated in the case of immigrants. This article encourages a continued and improved emphasis on contexts for drug use as socially enabling environments.