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Dealing Drugs or Living Like Mugs? Consumerism, Crime and Status in A North East Town Craig Ancrum Lecturer in Criminology University of Teesside.

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Presentation on theme: "Dealing Drugs or Living Like Mugs? Consumerism, Crime and Status in A North East Town Craig Ancrum Lecturer in Criminology University of Teesside."— Presentation transcript:

1 Dealing Drugs or Living Like Mugs? Consumerism, Crime and Status in A North East Town Craig Ancrum Lecturer in Criminology University of Teesside

2 Its like the bloke next door to me mam, hes worked on the council for twenty odd years, same crappy job every day, all that time, not even a fucking ford fiesta to show for it, never goes abroad, hes got fuck all. People like that are just mugs….. Its like the bloke next door to me mam, hes worked on the council for twenty odd years, same crappy job every day, all that time, not even a fucking ford fiesta to show for it, never goes abroad, hes got fuck all. People like that are just mugs….. (Dut, Cannabis Grower and thief) (Dut, Cannabis Grower and thief)

3 Outline of Research Ongoing ethnographic study of an ex-industrial North East town Ongoing ethnographic study of an ex-industrial North East town Study of active criminals. Study of active criminals. Most involved in drugs trade. Most involved in drugs trade. Involvement at various levels Involvement at various levels Major importer/ distributor to tenner deal seller Major importer/ distributor to tenner deal seller Varied age group years Varied age group years Majority 30s 40s Majority 30s 40s Most professional criminals, ex-commercial burglars, some had involvement in armed robberies Most professional criminals, ex-commercial burglars, some had involvement in armed robberies Some involved in legitimate as well illegal business practices Some involved in legitimate as well illegal business practices

4 Research originally began for undergraduate dissertation Research originally began for undergraduate dissertation MSc dissertation and two co-authored publications MSc dissertation and two co-authored publications Hall, Winlow & Ancrum(2005) Radgies Gangstas and Mugs, in Social Justice Vol.32:1 Hall, Winlow & Ancrum(2005) Radgies Gangstas and Mugs, in Social Justice Vol.32:1 Concentrates on the effects of the imagination and media influences on criminality and identity construction Concentrates on the effects of the imagination and media influences on criminality and identity construction Hall, Winlow and Ancrum (Forthcoming 2007) Criminal Identities and Consumer Cultures Willan Press Hall, Winlow and Ancrum (Forthcoming 2007) Criminal Identities and Consumer Cultures Willan Press Now researching for PhD thesis Now researching for PhD thesis

5 Aims of research Research will involve a detailed examination of the biographies of a number of individuals living in the North East town of Carville Research will involve a detailed examination of the biographies of a number of individuals living in the North East town of Carville Focusing on those whose involvement in criminality over a sustained period or seeming dedication to criminality could lead them to be described as career criminals. Focusing on those whose involvement in criminality over a sustained period or seeming dedication to criminality could lead them to be described as career criminals. It will examine life histories, relationships, aspirations and everyday experiences of some of those living in what have been termed criminal life worlds (Hobbs & Dunnighan,1997 cited in Ruggerio et al :289), in an attempt to cast light on the events, decisions and structural influences involved in choosing a life of crime. It will examine life histories, relationships, aspirations and everyday experiences of some of those living in what have been termed criminal life worlds (Hobbs & Dunnighan,1997 cited in Ruggerio et al :289), in an attempt to cast light on the events, decisions and structural influences involved in choosing a life of crime.

6 The principal and over riding purpose of the research is to generate rich and descriptive data, reflective analysis and innovative and fresh ethnographic insight into a subject where academic access is usually seriously restricted The principal and over riding purpose of the research is to generate rich and descriptive data, reflective analysis and innovative and fresh ethnographic insight into a subject where academic access is usually seriously restricted Demystify the conceptions surrounding career criminality Demystify the conceptions surrounding career criminality

7 Within that framework explore the impact of consumerism and a neo-liberal free market society on criminality and identity. Within that framework explore the impact of consumerism and a neo-liberal free market society on criminality and identity. Particular interest in construction of identity and ornamental consumerism Particular interest in construction of identity and ornamental consumerism Fragmented and diverse identities Fragmented and diverse identities Value and appeal of a criminal identity Value and appeal of a criminal identity Being a dealer Being a dealer Extent to which identities are being adopted? Extent to which identities are being adopted?

8 Carville Carville Town on the banks of the Tyne once heavily dependant on shipbuilding and mining Town on the banks of the Tyne once heavily dependant on shipbuilding and mining Decline in the 1970s – 80s due to increasing foreign competition, rising inflation, lack of intervention by government etc. Decline in the 1970s – 80s due to increasing foreign competition, rising inflation, lack of intervention by government etc. Both industries now completely gone Both industries now completely gone Problems nicely illustrated by local taxi driver; first trade dies off because no-one can afford to go out, then 100 ex-shipyard workers apply for cab licences and go into competition with me. (Rae&Smith, 2001) Problems nicely illustrated by local taxi driver; first trade dies off because no-one can afford to go out, then 100 ex-shipyard workers apply for cab licences and go into competition with me. (Rae&Smith, 2001) Taylor (1997), Hobbs(1995) and Winlow(2001), have all commented on the transforming nature of the death of Britain's economic stalwarts on traditional male identities and criminality Taylor (1997), Hobbs(1995) and Winlow(2001), have all commented on the transforming nature of the death of Britain's economic stalwarts on traditional male identities and criminality

9 The towns council housing complexes have deteriorated gradually into typical problem estates The towns council housing complexes have deteriorated gradually into typical problem estates Unemployment, high crime rate, vast amount of drug use/abuse, low investment etc. Unemployment, high crime rate, vast amount of drug use/abuse, low investment etc. Replacement of traditional industrial employment with service based industry Replacement of traditional industrial employment with service based industry The social problems of Carville earn parts of it a ranking in the top five per cent of deprived areas in the whole country in terms of education health and crime rate. (North Tyneside Council 2003) The social problems of Carville earn parts of it a ranking in the top five per cent of deprived areas in the whole country in terms of education health and crime rate. (North Tyneside Council 2003)

10 A conceptual underpinning of the study concerns, therefore, the consequences of an area losing its traditional industrial working class stability (Paluski & Walters 1996) and the much debated effects on status and identity that de-industrialisation has engendered (Hall, 1997, 1998; Taylor 1997; Hobbs & Dunnnighan,1997) A conceptual underpinning of the study concerns, therefore, the consequences of an area losing its traditional industrial working class stability (Paluski & Walters 1996) and the much debated effects on status and identity that de-industrialisation has engendered (Hall, 1997, 1998; Taylor 1997; Hobbs & Dunnnighan,1997)

11 Interest in the effect on Habitus (Bourdieu, 1984) Interest in the effect on Habitus (Bourdieu, 1984) A set of beliefs and dispositions carried in the body which Bourdieu believed were internalised, but of external construction. A set of beliefs and dispositions carried in the body which Bourdieu believed were internalised, but of external construction. Has the traditional working class habitus been transformed by the lack of traditional employment opportunities? Has the traditional working class habitus been transformed by the lack of traditional employment opportunities? Is it in the process of being changed? Is it in the process of being changed? Unfortunately, the kind of qualities that were demanded by heavy industry, a robust physical hardness, strength, bravery, stoicism, fatalism and a hard masculinity are all qualities that can be put to good use in a criminal career. Unfortunately, the kind of qualities that were demanded by heavy industry, a robust physical hardness, strength, bravery, stoicism, fatalism and a hard masculinity are all qualities that can be put to good use in a criminal career. Does a much more instrumental and commercially motivated ethos now exist in areas like Carville? Does a much more instrumental and commercially motivated ethos now exist in areas like Carville?

12 Dreams of consumption itll come. I know it will, Im going to have the B.M.W, the nice house away from this shit hole, villa in Tenerife, the full fucking monty, definitely. If they can do it I fucking can. Its cush when you go on the drink with them kind of people. You dont queue to get in night clubs, pay for drinks or fuck all and theres always loads of Charlie flying about, who fucking wouldnt want to be able to go on like that? itll come. I know it will, Im going to have the B.M.W, the nice house away from this shit hole, villa in Tenerife, the full fucking monty, definitely. If they can do it I fucking can. Its cush when you go on the drink with them kind of people. You dont queue to get in night clubs, pay for drinks or fuck all and theres always loads of Charlie flying about, who fucking wouldnt want to be able to go on like that? (Nipper, small scale Cocaine dealer, discussing the appeal of being a successful criminal ) (Nipper, small scale Cocaine dealer, discussing the appeal of being a successful criminal )

13 This admiration of the successful drug dealer present in many of those involved in the study so far This admiration of the successful drug dealer present in many of those involved in the study so far The seductions of crime (Katz, 1998) The seductions of crime (Katz, 1998) Great importance placed on being seen to engage in the criminal market place, of being in the know Great importance placed on being seen to engage in the criminal market place, of being in the know Being able to afford the symbols of success Being able to afford the symbols of success Success relative obviously Success relative obviously

14 Methods Ethnographic study Ethnographic study Life history analysis Life history analysis detailed field observations detailed field observations Utilising what Adler termed a delicate combination of both overt and covert roles (1985:27) Utilising what Adler termed a delicate combination of both overt and covert roles (1985:27) A curious blending of methodological techniques Denzin (1970) A curious blending of methodological techniques Denzin (1970) Analysis following the principles of grounded theory, allowing for emerging theories to present themselves Analysis following the principles of grounded theory, allowing for emerging theories to present themselves

15 Access Very privileged level of access Very privileged level of access Grew up and still live in, the area Grew up and still live in, the area Previous knowledge of the group being studied Previous knowledge of the group being studied Possess the cultural competence Bourdieu (1984:2) to achieve a good level of intimacy Possess the cultural competence Bourdieu (1984:2) to achieve a good level of intimacy Van Maanen (1998) Adler (1985), Polsky (1971) wrote of the need in good ethnographic study, for the author to be fully immersed in the culture of those under scrutiny. Van Maanen (1998) Adler (1985), Polsky (1971) wrote of the need in good ethnographic study, for the author to be fully immersed in the culture of those under scrutiny.

16 Some initial observations Evidence of adoption of a criminal identity in some individuals Evidence of adoption of a criminal identity in some individuals Importance of being able to have the right consumer goods. Importance of being able to have the right consumer goods. Plasma screens, leather settees, cars, clothes, etc. Plasma screens, leather settees, cars, clothes, etc. Kids/wives adorned with gold jewellery Kids/wives adorned with gold jewellery Carrying two mobiles Carrying two mobiles Some disdain, mocking of those who work in low paid unrewarding occupations Some disdain, mocking of those who work in low paid unrewarding occupations Importance of show and looking as if you are doing well Importance of show and looking as if you are doing well Work per se not always frowned upon, working for yourself or highly paid work held in some esteem Work per se not always frowned upon, working for yourself or highly paid work held in some esteem

17 Some in the study operate in both legal and illegal markets successfully Some in the study operate in both legal and illegal markets successfully Engagement in the drugs market seen by some as best means for achieving success and status Engagement in the drugs market seen by some as best means for achieving success and status Some violence associated with drug markets but often very civilised Some violence associated with drug markets but often very civilised Violence appears to be more common at bottom end of market Violence appears to be more common at bottom end of market Rarer in upper levels but often more serious when it does occur Rarer in upper levels but often more serious when it does occur

18 The most frequently traded illegal commodities in the area seem to be Cocaine and Cannabis, especially Skunk The most frequently traded illegal commodities in the area seem to be Cocaine and Cannabis, especially Skunk Massive rise in cocaine use in past 3-4 years. Massive rise in cocaine use in past 3-4 years. £40 a gram, £50 for better quality £40 a gram, £50 for better quality Usually adulterated with Lactose powder Usually adulterated with Lactose powder Pubs in the area spraying WD 40 etc on surfaces in toilets to prevent use for cocaine snorting Pubs in the area spraying WD 40 etc on surfaces in toilets to prevent use for cocaine snorting Crack cocaine used but not sold! Crack cocaine used but not sold! Users wash up powdered cocaine to smoke Users wash up powdered cocaine to smoke Growing skunk seen as easy and lucrative, average crop approx ounces of cannabis Growing skunk seen as easy and lucrative, average crop approx ounces of cannabis Price of an ounce £ Price of an ounce £ Crop every 9-11 weeks Crop every 9-11 weeks £14,000, potentially every crop £14,000, potentially every crop

19 Conclusion In areas where a mans identity was supposedly once inherent in his occupational status, where people were known and identified by their trade or the job of work they performed, it is perhaps not surprising to see males attempting to claim an identity from another source if their traditional means of doing so is denied. In areas where a mans identity was supposedly once inherent in his occupational status, where people were known and identified by their trade or the job of work they performed, it is perhaps not surprising to see males attempting to claim an identity from another source if their traditional means of doing so is denied. It is quite clear that one such source can be found for some individuals in being a criminal and immersion in criminal culture It is quite clear that one such source can be found for some individuals in being a criminal and immersion in criminal culture

20 By recording the biographies and experiences of those in the study it may be possible to make a tentative step towards recognising the significance of these diverse and fragmented criminal identities for criminology (Hall, et al 2005, 14). By recording the biographies and experiences of those in the study it may be possible to make a tentative step towards recognising the significance of these diverse and fragmented criminal identities for criminology (Hall, et al 2005, 14).

21 References Adler, Patricia A. (1985) Wheeling and dealing : an ethnography of an upper-level drug dealing and smuggling community Columbia University Press Bourdieu, P. (1984) Distinction: a social critique of the judgement of taste London: Routledge Hall, Winlow & Ancrum(2005) Radgies Gangstas and Mugs, in Social Justice Vol.32:1 Hobbs, Dick (1995) Bad business : professional crime in modern Britain Oxford University Press Katz, Jack (1988) Seductions of crime : moral and sensual attractions in doing evil New York : Basic Books Taylor, I. (1997) Crime in context Oxford University Press Winlow, S (2002) Badfellas, crime tradition and masculinity Oxford Berg


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