Drug use and drug dealing in the rave club culture

Ward, Jennifer ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3018-2859 (2007) Drug use and drug dealing in the rave club culture. PhD thesis, Goldsmiths College (University of London). [Thesis]


This thesis is a ‘descriptive analysis’ of drug use and drug selling as it occurred in different leisure venues and settings and among different audiences participating in the London rave dance culture. It is an ethnographic study informed through a ‘participant observer’ approach. The main methods used were field observations carried out in nightclubs and dance parties and through informal interviews with people attached to different rave dance social networks. The central objective of the study was to examine the ways in which drug selling was organized and the social processes that underpinned drug transactions. Theoretical and conceptual constructs located within the discipline of urban sociology are drawn upon. A reflexive engagement with the ethnographic process and the ethical dilemmas encountered in undertaking a study of illegal activity is provided.

The data is analysed using a macro and micro organizational framework. Broadly, drug selling is differentiated by trade in public spaces for instance in nightclubs and dance parties; and in private spaces in houses where transactions were based primarily among friendship group acquaintances. The camaraderie among rave dance participants greatly assisted drug sales and the expansive nature of friendship groups meant drug selling operations easily developed beyond that initially intended. The central themes underpinning the empirical analysis focus on notions of entrepreneurialism and enterprise. It is argued that rave dance participants were economic actors involved in the production of the culture and economy of which they were a part. A related concept is the way drug selling set-ups could function as ‘alternate work’ and meaningful activity. A central concept underpinning this thesis is the notion of contemporary youth sociality and shifting identities. The ‘fluid’ forms of socializing observed in my study in respect to drug cultural involvement, mirrored the notion that in late-modern society youth socializing is about moving from one group to another depending on how one chooses to express and shape their self-identity. The conclusion of the thesis argues that, this freedom to attach oneself to different social worlds was more of an option for people from advantaged social class backgrounds, than it was for those from less privileged backgrounds.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Sustainable Development Goals:
Research Areas: A. > School of Law > Criminology and Sociology
B. > Theses
Item ID: 35710
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Jenni Ward
Date Deposited: 24 Aug 2022 11:24
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2023 11:56
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/35710

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