Case Study: Black Cannabis Dealers in a White Welfare State Race, Politics, and Street Capital in Norway
An ethnographic study of a group of young black men dealing cannabis at a drug scene called The River in Oslo demonstrates that accumulation and use of street capital can be seen as responses to processes of social and economic exclusion. In Norway, as elsewhere, many immigrant youths are marginalized by ethnic discrimination, racism, lack of education and job opportunities, and immigration policy. Street capital is a means to gain respect, status, and money. The concept is inspired by French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu and highlights how street culture becomes embodied and emphasizes the practical rationality involved when marginalized youths become involved in crime. Street capital is upheld by and embedded in gangster stories, but the young men also see themselves as victims. There are ongoing shifts between gangster- and oppression discourses; neither represents the “true story” of these men. Ethnographic study of street dealers’ language use demonstrates the complex relationship between street culture and a benevolent Nordic welfare state.
Much negative public and media attention in Germany focuses on Muslim immigrants, particularly those with guest worker backgrounds. A study based on 5 years of ethnographic fieldwork with 55 second-generation male Muslim immigrants in Germany who engaged in drug dealing provides major new insights into how they try to make sense of the negative stereotypes of Muslim immigrants prevalent in German society, into distinctive forms of exclusion they face in the public education system, and into the effects on them of a restrictive and unwelcoming naturalization system. The exclusion the young men face significantly limits their opportunities for social and economic success, shapes their opinions about Germany, and provides them with rationales for explaining and legitimizing their drug dealing activities.