Symbolic capital and linguistic practice in street culture
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This dissertation is based upon two ethnographic fieldwork projects that were conducted on the streets of Oslo, Norway. The most important data are qualitative interviews with city dwellers and street drug dealers. The first fieldwork was conducted at an ‘open drug scene’ setting and the second in a more dispersed street drug market. The most important research participants were young ethnic minority men. Themes discussed include recruitment to drug use and drug dealing, violence, processes of marginalization, and narrative presentations of self in street culture. One important argument is that marginalized people are in a continual ‘search for respect’, through both symbolic capital accumulation and creative linguistic practice. Conceptualizing a street subculture has been important in studies of youth, delinquency, deviance and crime. The present dissertation contributes two new concepts to this tradition. The first is street capital, which is understood as knowledge, competence, skills, and objects given value in a street culture. This concept is used to capture the accumulation of symbolic capital in a violent street culture. It can be used when studying practical rationality, embodied dispositions or habitus, and the complex relationships between socio-economic constraints and human agency in street culture. The second concept introduced is gangster discourse. This concept is understood as a collection of personal narratives primarily describing the toughness, smartness and sexual attractiveness of its speakers. This concept is used to capture subcultural linguistic practice emerging from a violent and masculine street culture. The two concepts are related, and the dissertation proposes a synthesis in which gangster discourse is the ‘linguistic capital’ and most important ‘linguistic practice’ of a violent street subculture where street capital is the dominant symbolic capital. Gangster discourse is both constitutive of and constituted by street culture. Street culture is not young male offenders’ only cultural influence however, and the dissertation will reveal a multitude of cultural influences by describing their creative, complex and ambivalent language use. Influences include mainstream society and concrete meetings with welfare organizations. This interdiscursivity challenges previous categorizations of offenders into ‘street’ or ‘decent’ and ‘conventionally’ or ‘unconventionally’ attached, and thus also a homogenous understanding subculture.
Paper 1: International Journal of Drug Policy 2008 19(6), Sandberg, S.; Pedersen, W., “A magnet for curious adolescents”: The perceived dangers of an open drug scene, pp. 459-466. Copyright 2007 Elsevier B.V. Full text not available in BORA due to publisher restrictions. The published version is available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2007.02.001Paper 2: British Journal of Criminology 48(5), Sandberg, S., Black drug dealers in a white welfare state. Cannabis dealing and street capital in Norway, pp. 604-619. Copyright 2008 The Author. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (ISTD). Full text not available in BORA due to publisher restrictions. The published version is available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjc/azn041Paper 3: Theoretical Criminology 12(2), Sandberg, S., Street capital. Ethnicity and violence on the streets of Oslo, pp. 153-171. Copyright 2008 SAGE Publications. Full text not available in BORA due to publisher restrictions. The published version is available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1362480608089238Paper 4: Deviant Behavior 30(6), Sandberg, S., A narrative search for respect, pp. 487-510. Copyright 2009 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. Full text not available in BORA due to publisher restrictions. The published version is available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01639620802296394Paper 5: British Journal of Sociology 60(3), Sandberg, S., Gangster, victim or both? The interdiscursive construction of sameness and difference in self-presentations, pp. 523-542. Copyright 2009 London School of Economics and Political Science. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Full text not available in BORA due to publisher restrictions. The published version is available at: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/122574418/abstract
PublisherThe University of Bergen