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Black Drug Dealers in a White Welfare State: Cannabis Dealing and Street Capital in Norway

NCJ Number
British Journal of Criminology Volume: 48 Issue: 5 Dated: September 2008 Pages: 604-619
Sveinung Sandberg
Date Published
September 2008
16 pages
Based on both ethnographic fieldwork and interviews with ethnic minority cannabis dealers in Norway, this paper describes the practical rationality involved in recruitment to street drug dealing.
Young men started dealing because they needed the money, and had few other places to earn it. The street market was also a place where they could pursue status and respect or experience a thrill. Early experiences embodied in the young men’s drug life, such as wartime experiences, socialization into established criminal networks, and a feeling of estrangement from mainstream society, further add to an understanding of why they ended up on the street. The practical rationality involved in the young men’s decision to deal drugs, however, makes them feel less like victims of their surroundings and more like actors in their own life. A group of young ethnic minority men are dealing cannabis along a river in Oslo, Norway. They are using illegal drugs, are potentially violent, and involved in different forms of crime. The young men are also marginalized by Norwegian society, and discriminated against when trying to enter labor and housing markets. The have problems findings work, managing school, and often feel estranged from mainstream society. The question is how did they end up there and why do they stay? This study attempts to capture some of the skills, rationality, and competence involved in street drug dealing. Three dealers’ socio-biographies are presented and used to illustrate three groups of dealers, and three ideal-typical trajectories to street drug dealing. The analysis is based on the concept ‘street capital’, inspired by Pierre Bourdieu. This theoretical framework highlights the embodied character of cultural knowledge, the importance of early socialization, and the practical rationality involved when young people start dealing illegal drugs. References


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