Lecture 8

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Transcript Lecture 8

Youth, Crime and Media
8. Drugs, gangs, deviance
and labelling theory
Questions to consider
Is there a causal relationship between
youth, crime and drug use?
How do age and gender characteristics
affect trends in criminal/drug offences?
How is a ‘drug user’ defined by other
drug users (as belonging) and by nondrug users (as deviant)?
Is there a typical drug offender?
Youth and drugs are linked
Rare in early teens, increases sharply in
mid teens, peaks in late teens or early
twenties (ISDD 1994)
Cannabis most popular – amphetamines,
ecstasy and polydrug use has increased
(Parker et al. 1998)
Some stabilising of drug use but increased
cocaine use since mid-90s (Ramsey 2001)
Focus on vulnerable groups (Collison 1994)
Gender, drugs & other offences
Peak offending for MALES – 14 for
property offences, 16 for violent offences,
17 for serious offences and 20 for drug
offences (Graham and Bowling 1995)
Peak offending for FEMALES – 15 for
property and serious offences, 16 for
violent offences, 17 for drug offences (ibid)
Male drug offenders persist into 20s, 30s…
But does drug use cause
youth crime? (Muncie 2004)
 Most drug use is ‘recreational’ and
relatively controlled
 Most of those who commit crime to buy
drugs were criminals before drug-taking
 Less than 5% finance their drug use
through crime
 Police crackdowns fail to reduce drug
availability or levels of criminal activity
Becoming a drug user (Becker
50 interviews with marijuana users
Focus away from psychological or
pathological to social pleasures
Pleasure only came after a “learning
process” – newcomers need to be
taught how to appreciate a ‘high’ from
experienced members of the gang
Labels and careers
Jazz musicians as deviant – marijuana
users, creative types, etc.
Synonyms for marijuana “change as
soon as musicians feel that they have
gained currency among outsiders”
(Becker 1997)
Musicians label outsiders as ‘square’
To be called ‘hip’ requires experience
and understanding – a career attitude
Three types of youth drug
takers (Young 1971)
CONFORMIST – future productive roles:
alcohol, tobacco – “these drugs come to
symbolise for conformist youth the
achievement of adult status” (p.144)
DELINQUENT – minority group – no
future productive career roles: much
illegal drug use but not readily available
BOHEMIAN – associated with hippies…
Bohemian youth (Young 1971)
They choose to disassociate with the
conformist work ethic
Drug use is available and sought after
Middle class, well-educated
“Society reacts, then, not to the use of
drugs but to the type of people who
use drugs” (p. 149).