Consumer Culture Discussion

timer Asked: Feb 21st, 2019
account_balance_wallet $10

Question Description

Let’s consider how we are part of a consumer culture. Think about a consumer good you recently acquired and care about, for example, an item of clothing or music. Does this item in any way help establish or demonstrate who you are, what you are about, or how you perceive yourself? How did you learn to appreciate this particular item? How does this item help you ‘do’ culture? How is it a demonstration of taste? In what ways is culture a social act?

Readings are attached

respond with a short reflection paper of 2-3 double-spaced pages, times new roman point 12 font.

Small Groups and Culture Creation: The Idioculture of Little League Baseball Teams Author(s): Gary Alan Fine Source: American Sociological Review, Vol. 44, No. 5 (Oct., 1979), pp. 733-745 Published by: American Sociological Association Stable URL: Accessed: 27-08-2015 03:41 UTC Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at info/about/policies/terms.jsp JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact American Sociological Association is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to American Sociological Review. This content downloaded from on Thu, 27 Aug 2015 03:41:30 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions SMALL GROUPS AND CULTURE CREATION: THE IDIOCULTURE OF LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL TEAMS* GARY ALAN FINE University of Minnesota AmericanSociological Review 1979, Vol. 44 (October):733-745 Following interactionisttheory, this study argues that cultural creation and usage can be examined by conceptualizingculturalforms as originatingin a small-groupcontext. Those culturalelements which characterizean interactinggroup are termed the idioculture of the group. This approachfocuses on the content of small-groupinteraction,and suggests that the meaningsof culturalitems in a small group must be consideredin order to comprehendtheir continuedexistence as communication.Five characteristicsof culturalitems affect whichitems will becomepartof a groupculture.Culturalformsmay be createdand continueto be utilizedin situationsif they are knownto membersof the interactinggroup,usable in the course of group interaction,functional in supporting group goals and individual needs, appropriate in supportingthe status hierarchyof the group, and triggered by events which occur in group interaction.These elements have impactonly throughthe interpretationsof groupmembersof their situations. Supportfor this approachis drawn from a participantobservationstudy of Little League baseball teams. The concept of culturegenerallyhas not proven useful as a significantvariable in sociology because of difficulties associated with specifying its content and the population serving as its referent. One speaks glibly of the culture of a particular group with the expectation that one's audience will have a common-sense understandingof what is meant. Because of the difficultiesand ambiguitiesinvolved in the use of the term culture (Geertz, 1973:89),it virtuallyhas been disregarded in recent sociological writing as a major theoretical variable. The term refers to a central feature of human societies, and because of its sociological relevance, a reconceptualization of the culture concept is desirable. However, in order to avoid treating culture as an amorphous,indescribablemist which swirls aroundsociety members,it is * Direct all communicationsto: Gary Alan Fine, Departmentof Sociology; University of Minnesota; Minneapolis,MN 55455. This article has benefited enormously from the critical reading of many, especially Robert Freed Bales, Pat Lauderdale, Sherryl Kleinman, Harold Finestone, and Jim Thomas. The views expressed, however, representthose of the author. Part of the researchwas supportedby National Science FoundationGrantNo. SOC75-13094.Datafromthe Maple Bluff site were collected by Harold Pontiff. necessary to ground the term in interaction. Such specificationcan avoid the lack of common meaning often involved in studies of nationalculturesor subcultures. Blumer (1969) has argued that meaning derives from interaction,and culture,a set of sharedunderstandings,is clearly implicated in Blumer's premise. While culture is defined, created, and transmitted through interaction, it is not interaction itself, but the content, meanings, and topics of interaction. In Herskovits's (1948:625)definition: though a culture may be treated by the student as capable of objective description, in the final analysis it comprisesthe thingsthat people have, the things they do, and what they think. Sociologists and anthropologists who have examined culture have found specifying the cultural patterns of an entire society to be an insurmountabletask. While the attempts have been noble, the size of the undertakinghas produced disappointingresults for the goal of understandingthe dynamics of culturalcreation and tradition.If we take Blumer's premise seriously, it may be more suitableto begin our examination with interaction, and therefore to consider culture creation as an outcome of this interaction(e.g., Hare 733 This content downloaded from on Thu, 27 Aug 2015 03:41:30 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions 734 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW et al., 1965:v).The prototype of these interactingunits is the small group, and the prevalence of groups in society suggests that it may be useful to conceive of culture as being part of the communicationsystem of these interacting units (Spector, 1973).Despite the focus on the group, we recognize that this does not imply that shared understandings which transcend interactive networks do not exist; however, models are necessary to indicate how information diffuses from the originatinggroup(see Fine and Kleinman, 1979). Although cultural elements can transcend the boundaries of interacting groups, it frequently occurs that cultural elements are experienced within the context of the small group. Thus, one may arguethat most cultureelements are experienced as part of a communicationsystem of a small group even though they may be known widely.I The experience of knowing and using culture is inevitably tied to situationalcontexts of group life. To understand the dynamics of cultural creationand culturalchange, we must analyze this knowledgewithinthe context of its mode of transmission. In focusing on the interacting unit, I arguethat every grouphas to some extent a cultureof its own, which I shall term its idioculture. Idioculture consists of a system of knowledge, beliefs, behaviors, and customs shared by members of an interactinggroup to which members can refer and employ as the basis of further interaction. Membersrecognize that they share experiences in common and these experiences can be referred to with the expectation that they will be understood by other members,and furthercan be employed to construct a social reality. The term, stressing the localized nature of culture, implies that it need not be part of a demographicallydistinct subgroup, but rather that it is a particularisticdevelopment of any group in the society. While the implicationsof conceiving of small groups as having cultures have not been considered adequately, some researchershave indicatedthe usefulness of this construct. Hollingshead(1939:816)in his discussion of behavior systems maintained that: Persons in more or less continuousassociation evolve behavior traits and cultural mechanismswhich are unique to the group and differ in some way from those of other groups and from the larger socio-cultural complex. That is, every continuing social groupdevelops a variantcultureand a body of social relations peculiar and common to its members. Lee (1954) and Gordon (1964) both suggestthat the concept of a groupculture fills a void in sociological conceptions of culture. Despite anthropological and folkloristicethnographies(Leemon, 1972; Adams, 1971; Dundes and Fallasi, 1975) and experimental manipulations of laboratory groups (Rose and Felton, 1955; Jacobs and Campbell, 1961; Weick and. Gilfillan, 1971;MacNeil and Sherif, 1976), little attention has been given to the usefulness of this concept, and how social constraints influence the creation and continuedusage of culturalitems in small groups. My goal in this paper is simple. After briefly suggesting several theoretical rationales for the idioculture construct, I shall examine several perceived characteristics of cultural items which affect their creation and usage, and, thus, the developmentof idiocultureswithina set of small groups. Hopefully this analysis, havinggroundedthe culturalcreationprocess in interaction, eventually will allow for a specification of the dynamics involved in the social construction of cultural elements in larger groupings and 1 Cultural elements disseminated by the mass media (television, radio) or in crowd settings (rock concerts, rallies, sports events) are exceptions. However, even in these isolated or mass settings Fine (1977) suggests that audiences are not composed of discrete individuals,but of a collection of small groups. These small groups help to structure the meaning of the event for individualsin attendance. Printed matter generally is notable for the of cultural acquisition noninteractional knowledge-although even here the materialis often discussed with others. 2Idio derives from idios, the Greek root for own (not ideo). It was felt necessary to coin a new term because the most logical phrase, that of group culture, has been used previously with several quite different meanings (Thelan, 1954; Rossel, 1976; McFeat, 1974). societies. This content downloaded from on Thu, 27 Aug 2015 03:41:30 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions SMALL GROUPS AND CULTURE CREATION LITTLE LEAGUE IDIOCULTURES In orderto explicate how an idioculture develops, it is necessary to base the discussion on empiricalobservations. While the examination of any set of continuing small groups could provide the material for this analysis, the data discussed in this paper derive from three years of participant observationresearch conducted with Little League3 baseball teams in five communities in New England and Minnesota. Little League baseball teams were chosen for observation because they combine the two majorelements of group life: task orientation(winninggames) and orientation socioemotional (peer friendship).4 In addition, because Little League is seasonal, the creation, development, and dissolution of the team culture could be observed. While some traditions continue from year to year, as approximately one-half a team's personnel returns, each year essentially represents the creation of a new idioculture. The teams examined consisted of 12 to 15 preadolescents, coached by one to three adults. Over the course of a three-. month season, teams play 14 to 21 games and, includingpractice time, spend about ten hours a week together. Duringthe seasons the author (and, in one league, a research assistant) interacted with players 735 and coaches (Fine and Glassner, 1979), althoughthe observer had no formal role, such as coach or umpire. Within each league two teams were observed in detail, and during practices and games the observer remainedwith the team in the dugout or on the field. The five leagues examined were: (1) Beanville,5 an upper middle-class professional suburb of Boston, Massachusetts; (2) Hopewell, an exurbantownship outside the Providence, Rhode Island metropolitan areaconsisting of small towns, beach-front land, farms and a campus of the state university; (3) Bolton Park, an upper middle-class professional suburbof Saint Paul, Minnesota, similar to Beanville except for geographicallocation; (4) Sanford Heights, a middle- to lower middle-class suburbof Minneapolis,consisting primarily of developers' tract homes; and (5) Maple Bluff, an uppermiddle-classneighborhood within the city limits of Saint Paul, Minnesota. The latter teams were examined by a research assistant. In Beanville participant observation was conducted during two seasons, while in the other sites observation was confined to a single season. RATIONALE FOR THE IDIOCULTURE CONSTRUCT Because discussions of culturehave not 3 The Little League organizationwas established in 1939 for the purpose of allowing boys to play been grounded in observation of interacorganizedbaseballunderthe supervisionof qualified tion or conceived of in terms of behavioral adults. The organization has grown enormously dynamicsand needs of groups, culturehas since then to the point where it now has over 600,000 not been representedadequately. By recplayers between the ages of nine and 12, and about 5,000 leagues. As a result of court suits from equal ognizing that groups develop a culture of rightsgroups, the League changedits policy in 1974 their own, some of the sterility of much to admitboth boys and girls into its programs.How- current small-group research can be ever, the ten teams examinedin-depthin this project avoided. Five arguments are proposed consisted only of boys. here for the utility of the construct of 4 While the decision to use Little League baseball in sociological research. idioculture teams to exemplify culturalproductionmay appear somewhatfrivolous, such groupsare as importantto their participantsas most adult groups. For the monthsthat the Little League season is in progress, 1. Specificity of Cultures baseball becomes a central preoccupationof these Since small groups are observable and boys (Stone, 1978).Furtherit is the problemthat one are capable of being questioned, culture the of the studies which determines significance work, not the "substantive" concern, in this case need not remain the amorphousphenomLittle League baseball.If these groupsare compara- enon which it tends to be in social anble to other groups in their process of culturalproduction(as I claim), they are a legitimatesubjectfor 5 All names included in the report of the Little study. I am attemptingto generalize to all groups, League research are pseudonyms. not simply preadolescentcongeries. This content downloaded from on Thu, 27 Aug 2015 03:41:30 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions 736 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW thropology and macrosociology. The relatively limited extent of the particularisticaspects of small-groupculture lends itself to examinationby the participant observer, and thus idiocultures can be specified by the researcherto a much greater extent than is true for either societal cultures or subcultures. Within our Little League study it is possible to compose a relativelycomplete description of the culture of a team, althoughthe depiction of a culture of a small group of small boys is a rather extensive undertaking (Fine, n.d.). Such a compilation will include the particularteam rules developed by the group of boys and their coaches, the regular joking topics, nicknames, and modes of appropriatebehavior adopted by the boys. A comprehensive attempt to compile preadolescent culture is an impossible task, although several useful partial collections have been published(e.g., Opie and Opie, 1959). 2. Comparative Analysis of Groups The concept of idioculture allows for the development of a cultural anthropology of small groups (McFeat, 1974). Social scientists typically have little understanding of how closely related groups differ from each other. These groups may appear to have common goals (winning baseball games), comparable memberships (chosen by means of a playerdraftin which all adult coaches take turns selecting players), and similar environments (playing and practicingin the same locations), yet groups develop uniquecultures and different styles of behavior. Here, again, the examination of differences amonggroupsrequiresconsiderablespace, more than is possible in this article. However, it is clear that the culturesthat teams develop are a result of social and environmental contingencies, combined with the social definitions which emerge in group interaction.Once the idiocultureis developed (a process occurringfrom the beginning moments of the group), it shapes future actions and collective meanings. By comparinggroups in terms of their experiences and shared meanings as influencingtheir culture, one is able to explicate the process of cultural differentiation-a process Fischer (1968) has termed microethnography. In our Lit- tle League researchearly victory or defeat (a social contingency)and the definitionof that outcome have a considerableeffect on structuringthe team culture.Teamsthat perceive themselves as successful typically develop a more robust culture of baseball-relateditems than the culture of early losers. 3. Cultural Creation and Diffusion in Societies and Subsocieties Understandingthe dynamics of the creation of an idioculture may have significant implications for understandingcultural creation in largersocial units. In observing a small group one can pinpoint precisely and with confidence the circumstances under which an item of culture was created. This cultural creation process may be similar to that for cultural products which reach a wider audience. Many cultural products are created in group situations (e.g., scriptwriters'conferences, theatre ensembles or scientific research groups) (Fine, 1977). Informal culturalproducts, such as jokes, slang, or superstitions,can develop in the course of natural interaction in a group, and subsequently may "catch on," spread beyond the boundariesof the groupto which it originallybelonged, and become part of a culture or subculture (Fine and Kleinman, 1979). Such mass diffusiondoes not occur very frequently, and our research does not allow us to cite any example in which a culturalobject created by one of the observed teams entered into the national preadolescent subculture, but on several occasions cultural traditions crossed team lines. One team in Bolton Park,for example, startedstandingon the dugout bench and cheering. This practice subsequently was adopted by two of the other six teams, through acceptance by the high status players on those teams, and the diffusion rapidly spread to their teammates. Such examples of diffusion suggest general processes of cultural transmission (e.g., the two-step flow of This content downloaded from on Thu, 27 Aug 2015 03:41:30 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions SMALL GROUPS AND CULTURE CREATION 737 communication) (Katz and Lazarsfeld, social integration have been shown con1955). 4. Groups As Cultural Units The idiocultureconstruct indicates that groups do not exist in a content-free context, but are continuously engaged in the construction of a social reality, a history (McBride, 1975), and a sense of meaning (Berger and Luckmann, 1967). Smallgroup research typically portrays groups as data points, and examines group dynamics divorced from the content of talk or action. Following interactionist theory, we assume that cultural content derives its shared social meaningthrough interaction,ratherthan throughan a priori assignmentof meaning. Groups negotiate meanings, and this ongoing negotiation structures the culture of groups. The content of talk and behavioris thus central to the comprehensionof group dynamics, and this understanding can occur only through a contextual examinationof culof Little ture. The nicknames Leaguers-Big Rides, Shrimppo, Thunderfoot, Train, or Maniac-imply that shared meanings of players exist and the replacement of nicknames over time suggests that these meanings are not necessarily static. Without a considerais behavior tion of meaning, ''meaningless' -a point experimental examinations of small groups ignore or downplay. 5. Culture As Mediation between Environment and Action Idioculture is proposed as a mediating element between constraints external to the groupand the behaviorof the groupin dealing with these constraints. It is the process by which collective decisions are selected, and thus permits an understanding of how a group increases its sense of "groupness," cohesion, and commitment. Further, as Berger and Luckmann (1967:87) suggest, subuniverses of meaning (idiocultures) provide for the differentiation of group members from outsiders. Differences in behavioralresponse to social stimuli and vincingly to relate to the cultural values of small communities (Vogt and O'Dea, 1953; Rogers and Gardner, 1969; DuWors, 1952). The culture of a group provides a set of behavioral options for the group to choose after the meaning of an external event has been determined. Thus, in this Little League research, teams responded idiosyncratically to potential victory (by special cheers) and defeat (by personalized insults). The team achieves consensus on whether the game is close, is being lost or won; then members choose from the group's repertoire of cultural options available given a situational definition. Each of these five explanations deserves a full explication and, although this article only attempts to provide for an understanding of factors influencing the social production of idiocultural elements, a return to the above arguments in future reports is necessary. THE SOCIAL PRODUCTION OF IDIOCULTURE At the inception of any group, an idioculture does not exist; however, the formation of a culture may occur from the opening moments of group interaction. When individuals meet, they begin to construct a culture by asking for names and other biographical points which can be referred to subsequently (Davis, 1973). Eventually idioculture becomes selfgenerating, and direct solicitation and reciprocal inquisition are no longer necessary for social solidarity. Over time, rules are established, opinions expressed, information exchanged, and members experience events together. Sherif and Sherif (1953:236-7) suggest that: When individualshaving no established relationships are broughttogether in a group situation to interact in group activities with common goals, they produce a group structure.... This group structureimplies positive in-group identifications and common attitudes and tends, in time, to generate byproducts or norms peculiar to the groups, such as nicknames, catchwords, ways of doing things, etc. This content downloaded from on Thu, 27 Aug 2015 03:41:30 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions 738 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICALREVIEW To be sure, not every element of a group's conversation or behavior will be part of the idioculture. Idioculture is augmented if an experience occurs or a piece of informationis transmittedwithin the group (i.e., in the presence of more than one group member) and is perceived as an event or statement which can be referenced legitimately and meaningfully(see Garfinkel, 1967:38-41)-i.e., the occurrence is worthy of retrospective notice. Thus, in Little League, a routine hit or catch, being "taken for granted," usually will not make an impact on the group's idioculture,but may become notableif the situational constraints give the event a significance beyond its expected lack of impact (e.g., a catch by a poor outfielder at a crucial point in a game-an event which did produce a nicknamein one Little League scenario). The specific elements of an idioculture are not generated randomly through chance statementsand events, but are accessible to sociological analysis. However, it would be inaccurate to suggest that the cultural elements of a group are inevitably produced by external determinants over which members have no control. Membersconstruct meaningsgiven a set of social constraints which are perceived as affecting the boundariesof permissible behavior. While the content of cultural elements needs to satisfy five analyticalcriteriato become incorporated into an idioculture, these five criteria are not external stimuli which inevitably shape the behavior of individuals or groups. Rather, these are components of the sense-making systems of individuals; the specific implications of these criteria are negotiatedin groupinteraction.These processes essentially operate as filters (Siman, 1977), which constrain cultural options. They provide strictures within which freedom of selection operates. The five filteringelements are proposed to explain the selection and continued salience of any given item in a group's idioculture-that the item be perceived as Known, Usable, Functional, and Appropriate in terms of the group's status system, and Triggeredby some experienced event. These factors can be schematized roughly in an ordered relationship by a Venn diagramaccordingto the numberof potential items which meet each criteria: K>U>F>A>T. The manner in which each of these filters will be interpretedis a situationalachievementfor members, and althoughI shall take for grantedtheir operation in this discussion, I recognize that the interpretation of each of them is grounded in their own set of situational negotiations. Known culture. The first constrainton whether a potential culture element will become part of the group idioculture is that the item or componentsof the item be known previously by at least one member of the group. This pool of backgroundinformationI shall term the known culture of the group. This perspective is congruent with Becker and Geer's (1960) argumentthat the manifestcultureof a groupwill be derived from the latent culturesof members. While the culture content emerges from groupinteraction,latent culture or the recall of priorknowledgewill affect the form of these cultureelements, althoughnot the specific content. Culture content is synthesized from remembrancesof past experiences. Since members have access to other idiocultures (or latent cultures) through previous or concurrentmemberships, the range of potentially known informationmay be extensive. Among Sanford Heights teams, a ball which was hit foul over the backstop was known as a "Polish Home Run." Such a cultural item would have been meaningless had it not been for latent cultural items-what a home run is, and the symbolic opposition of hitting a ball straight over the outfield fence and hitting it backward over the backstop. In other words, hitting the ball over either end of the field was a home run (andthis was not said of balls which curved outside a foul line). The existence of the item also reof social quired a knowledge stereotypes-that "Polish" is an ethnic slur-implying backwardness or incompetence. Without this culturalknowledge such an identificationof this type of foul ball would not have become a part of the cultureof these preadolescents.Likewise, This content downloaded from on Thu, 27 Aug 2015 03:41:30 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions SMALL GROUPS AND CULTURE CREATION referringto other players on the basis of their uniformcolor as a "green bean" or "Chiquita," as was done in Hopewell, suggests that culturalelements are dependent upon prior knowledge derived from external sources. Creativityposes no particularproblems for this perspective since created items are not developed de novo; rather, they are novel combinations of previously familiar elements (e.g., Hebb, 1974). These combinationsmay be given meanings differentfrom that of any constitutive element by the members of the group. Thus, players on the Maple Bluff White Sox developed a dress code which was loosely modeled on observation of major leaguers, althoughnot identical to it. Before one practice in SanfordHeights several players were hangingon the backstop at the practice field while one of their teammates shook the fence as hard as possible, an activity he termed the Chinese pain shake, a term apparently created spontaneously. While the term may never have been uttered before, its antecedents exist in that speaker's latent culture: notably the association of Chinese with torture (e.g., the Chinese water torture),and the earthquakeswhich had affected China duringthis period and to which this activity was similar. Thus, the creationof this culturalitem, although seemingly an idiosyncratic construction, can be interpreted in terms of previous knowledge. The term for that behavior "makes sense" in terms of the web of meaningsaccessible to those individuals. The largerthe percentage of boys who share a latent cultural element (e.g., the behavior of certain professional baseball players in wearingtheir hats or socks in a particularstyle), the more likely will this knowledge or some transformationof it come to characterizethe group. This unstated shared knowledge allows newly "created" cultural items to be more readily meaningfulfor the group. Usable culture. The second criterion for inclusion in a group's idioculture is that a potential item be perceived as part of the members' usable culture-that is, mentionable in the context of group interaction. Some elements of the latent or 739 known culture, although shared by members of a group, may not be shared publicly because of sacred or taboo implications. The usabilityof a culturalelement is not a result of absolute criteria, but of the social meanings supplied by the group members. Members' personalities, religion, political ideology, or morality may influence the situational viability for a cultural item. Thus, in Bolton Park one star player objected strongly to another player's referenceto the "fuckingumps"; another player on that team chastised a teammate for uttering the epithet "Jesus Christ" and taking the Lord's name in vain. On other teams, however, such usage was legitimate and was not sanctioned. Observation suggests that teams do have different moral standards for propriety;this is due to their adult and child personnel, and the extent to which these personnel are willing to express their beliefs to shape publicbehavior. In Beanville, one of the two teams examined placed a heavier emphasis on religion than did the other, althoughboth teams were largely Catholic. Possibly because of the players or as a reificationof the team name, the Angels indicated a greater interest in religion than did the Rangers. Membersof the Angels inquired of each other why they missed church. The Rangers never publicly mentioned church, but on several occasions players did joke about abortions. While only a weak inference exists that similar jokes could not have occurred among the Angels, the presence of such jokes seems unlikely and inappropriate. "Dirty" or sexual jokes were only spread among groups of Rangers(outside the earshot of their coach), and not in my observation among the Angels. Similarly,on one team in Hopewell, racial epithets were common; one player made reference to blacks as "jungle bunnies," while another commented "all the people who live aroundme are niggers," and a thirdtermeda PuertoRican adolescent "half nigger and half white." While many of the boys in the League were undoubtedly aware of these terms, only on this one team were they spoken with any This content downloaded from on Thu, 27 Aug 2015 03:41:30 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions 740 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICALREVIEW regularity, and as part of the normative orderof the team. It is difficultto pinpoint why these comments were usable here and not elsewhere, but two years previously this team had a black managerwho apparently was not well-liked, and this may have accounted for the public expression of racial resentmentafter he left. This is compoundedby the situationthat the two adults who coached this team did not appear to be greatly upset when this languagewas used. For example, we find this disquietingcolloquy: called "Mousey" by his affectionate mother. This nicknamewas used by peers in his absence, since he was a high status team member and it was a nickname he particularly disliked. This dislike only made the nicknamemore precious for his teammates. Justin: "Come on, you nigger." Coach: "Don't be stupid." Justin: "That's what he is." Assistant Coach: "You'll get thrown out of the game." Justin:"I don't mindif he calls me whitey." (Field notes) termed thefunctional culture of the group. Functional culture. A third factor in- fluencing the likelihood of an item being incorporatedinto a group's idiocultureis its perceived congruence with the goals and needs of some or all group members, and whetherit is definedas facilitatingthe survival and successful operation of the (A black boy pitchingfor the opposingteam group as a unit (Pellegrin, 1953). Items which are consistent with these ends are has just hit one of their batters) The issue here is the reaction of the coaches in establishinga definitionof usability. In this situation, and others, these adults see racial abuse as a strategic problem. Boys shouldnot use these terms because other adults will sanction them, or because (on otheroccasions) it was said the targets may attack the speaker. The reactions of the adults, while not encouraging these comments, do not make them unusable,and they remaineda centralpart of the team's culturethroughoutthe summer. Tied to usabilityis situationalappropriateness. Norms for prescribed and proscribed behavior tend to be contextually bounded. An item of culture may be appropriateonly in certaincircumstances, such as when the coach is absent. Typically, when group members are in the presence of outsiders the expressible elements of the team's idioculture are curtailed. This is evident in regard to preadolescents who refrain from telling "dirty"jokes in the presence of adults or strangers. Jokes comparing aborted babies to ripe, red tomatoes among the Beanville Rangers were limited to situations in which adults, other than the author, were not present. Likewise, one boy on the Sanford Heights Dodgers was Thus, potential cultural elements which are known and usable by members may not become part of the group's idioculture if not recognized as supportive of the needs of the group or its members. In some cases of cultural innovation, especially in regardto competingculturalelements relatedto task goals, a culturalprocess metaphoricallyakin to naturalselection may operate. Some interactionistsargue that culture develops as a response to sharedproblems (Becker and Geer, 1960; Hughes et al., 1968; Spector, 1973); they claim that groupcultureis functional,and that much of culture productionis directly related to groupproblemsolving. This propositionis supported by an examination of group culture in a laboratorysetting which indicates that problem-solvingstrategies that continueacross time are those which have been most effective (Weick and Gilfillan, 1971). Among Little League baseball teams, the rules and restrictions which team members enforce indicate the functional propertiesof group culture. The Beanville Rangers originated and enforced an operatingprocedure that the team would take batting practice (a desirable activity for the players) in the order that players arrived. This procedure encouraged promptness and, on occasion, the entire Ranger team arrived at the field before any members of the opposing team. The Rangers particularly were characterized by team spirit and friendships,as players knew each other informally through this This content downloaded from on Thu, 27 Aug 2015 03:41:30 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions SMALL GROUPS AND CULTURE CREATION pregame activity; it served as a mechanism for minimizingargumentsabout the batting practice order. The preadolescents, ratherthan the coaches, structured the team's behavior, and the procedure strengthened the position of the team's preadolescent leader who lived a block from the field and always arrived early. Prior to the establishment of this procedure, batting order was determined haphazardly-mostly by whomever was most insistent at the moment, ratherthan by a systematic orderingprocedureby the coach. It was because the orderingof batting practice had been problematicfor the Rangersthat such a rule was functionalas a problem-solvingmechanism. A Hopewell team prohibited chewing gum on the playing field because one of theirplayershad almost choked on a piece of gum after he ran into anotheroutfielder when attemptingto catch an unexpected fly ball. Other teams in the league did not have a similarrule, because the issue was never salient. For an item of culture to be overtly functional to a group, the group must define itself, either implicitly or explicitly, as having a problem, and then the cultural item may be proposed as a solution to the problem. Some culturalitems do not directly address problemsin a group, but still may be said to be functional in that they achieve group goals such as entertainmentor social solidarity.Whilethey may not be proposed in response to interactional difficulties, these idioculturalitems facilitate groupfunctioning.The creationof cultural prescriptionsand proscriptionsis tied directly to their functional character. The origins of nonovertly functional culture items may not be related directly to the needs of the group, but their continued usage is. Appropriate culture. Some potential elements of a group's culture, while functional for satisfying group goals or personal needs, do not occur or continue because they underminethe group's social structure in not supporting the interpersonal network and power relations in the group. Those potential cultural elements which are consistent with the patterns of interactionof the group are the appropriate culture of the group. A cultural item 741 which expresses hostility toward a wellliked or legitimately powerful individual may be known, usable, and even functional (in that hostility may need to be expressed), yet may be inappropriateunless the group structure is altered (see Hollander, 1958). This becomes clear in the case of nicknames. Many nicknames are evaluative in content, and a nickname must fit the target's defined status in the group. Duringthe first year of observationof the Beanville Rangers, one team member, Tom, acquired the nickname "Maniac," based upon a linguistic play on his last name, and on his physical awkwardness on the baseballdiamond.Thatyear he was an eleven-year-old substitute outfielder. When the team members were asked to name their three best friends on the team duringthe middle of the season, Tom was named only by one of the 12 other boys answering the sociometric questionnaire (with 15 players on the team). According to sociometric rankingand formal status, Tom is a low-status team member. The question formulated that season was: What would happen the following year when he was 12 years of age, and presumably would be one of the better players on the team? The following year, Tom started most of the Rangers' games at third base, was one of the best batters on the team, and was located in the middle of the team's status hierarchy. In sociometric ratings both at the beginning and the end of the season, Tom was named by four of the 14 other players as one of theirthree best friendson the team. His previous nickname, "Maniac," was no longerin circulation,althoughTom and other team members recalled its presence during the previous year. Tom's new nickname was "Main Eye," again a play on the boy's last name, though with dramaticallydifferent symbolic connotations. A similarexample occurred the following year in Sanford Heights. One of the eleven year olds on the Giantswas known as a particularly poor baseball player, having gone hitless in his previous year in the league. As a function of his weak baseball skills and his somewhat isolated position on the team, he was called This content downloaded from on Thu, 27 Aug 2015 03:41:30 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions 742 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICALREVIEW "Smell-ton," again a play on a surname. Duringthe first week of the season, much to everyone's surprise his own included-he hit a GrandSlam home run. His nickname "Smell-ton" was forgotten and, for the rest of the season, his teammates called him Jim. Status can be usefully conceived of as constrainingthe creation of nicknames, although the labeling effect of nicknames and other culturally identifyinginformationon group position cannot be denied. Nicknames are not the only culturalitems subject to status considerations; pranks and practical jokes may only be performed on low status members,and rules may be constructedso that they support the prerogativesof the older players-such as determiningwho should coach on the bases (high status boys) or who shouldgo to the refreshment stand for water (isolates). In addition to being affected by status inappropriateness,acceptance of a culturalitem may be contingenton the nature of sponsorship. Potential cultural items are more likely to be accepted into a group's idioculture when proposed by a high status member (Sherif and Sherif, 1953:252).This clearly applies when the coach proposes some cultural element; while these are not invariablyaccepted by his preadolescentcharges, they do standa comparatively greater likelihood of acceptance. Thus, in Hopewell, one set of coaches suggested that before a game their team should form a circle, that team members place their hands in the middle of the circle and, when the coach said "Let's go," that players shouldbuoyantly raise their arms in unison. This ritual characterized the team throughout the season. Another coach in Maple Bluff ritually asked his team what three things they needed to win, and they vigorously responded, "Hustle, pride and class;" a third coach in Beanville would refer to a weak hit as something which his grandmother could hit better than, and so the comic image of this middle-aged man's grandmotherentered the team's culture. High status players, like coaches, find their personal status accorded the traditions they wish to establish. Several members of the Beanville Rangers got wiffles (short haircuts) after Wiley, the second most popularboy on the team, got one and was proud of it. This fad continued (with one or two boys newly shaved each day) untilRich, the most popularboy on the team, publicly claimed that he thought the haircut looked stupid, although he deliberately excluded Wiley from this evaluation,sayingthat he looked good. After Rich's announcement, only one low status boy had his haircut in that fashion, and the team, highlycriticalof his tonsorialstyle, said it looked horribleand, further, it was not a real wiffle. Similar sociometric processes affected clothing conformity,such as wearingwristbandsor sneakers at games, and wearing shorts or removing one's shirt at practice. Triggering event. The range of potential culturalitems which qualifyas known, usable, functional, and appropriateis extensive, and some interactional mechanism (or filter) is necessary to account for which items enter the group's culturalrepertoire. The concept of a triggering event is postulated as an explanatorydevice to determine selection. Some bit of interaction will provide a "spark" which produces the specific content of the idioculture. This event can consist of any action or statementwhich producesa response in the group, similarto Smelser's (1962)concept of a precipitatingfactor for collective behavior.A member'snew haircutmay be sufficient to spawn a new nickname ("Kojak," "Buzz Conroy," "Peach Fuzz"). A miscue may provide the impetus for a joking sequence that remains part of group lore. A threat to the group may produce a legend, new norm, or a prescriptionfor group action. While any triggering event may theoretically produce idioculture, some events recur and, in those cases, items of idioculture are particularly likely to be produced and, once produced, will more likely be relevant to the group as they are repeatedly functional and appropriate. Thus, the superior batting of one Beanville youngster led to him being called "Superstar," and the opposite talent of a boy in Bolton Park produced his nickname: "Strike Out King." These nicknames are sociometrically appropri- This content downloaded from on Thu, 27 Aug 2015 03:41:30 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions SMALL GROUPS AND CULTURE CREATION ate, as well as being frequentlytriggered, because of the differential athletic achievements of these two youngsters. In addition, triggers which are notable or unusualare especially likely to produce idioculture.6Support for this assertion is provided by Gmelch (1971) in an examination of baseball superstitions in the professional leagues; he discovered that rituals emanated from particularly good performances,while behavioraltaboos resulted from notably poor performances. One Bolton Park coach's old Impala was called a "Cadillac"after a foul ball nearly hit it in practice and he jokingly told them not to hit his Cadillac. The term caught on, and the rusty car was called a "Cadillac" fromthat point on-the notableevent of a waywardfoul ball structuredthe culture creation of the team. As Gmelch notes, notable events also effect taboos. One Hopewell coach brought his team red, white, and blue wristbandson opening day, in order to give the team some sense of unity and specialness. However, the team, which was expected to win the championshipthat year, lost its first game by the embarrassingscore of 12-3. After the game, the players decided that the wristbands were unlucky and from that day no member of the team wore a wristband, and the team eventually won the league championship. Triggeringevents and their effects are difficult to predict in advance in natural settings, as they are emergentfrom social interaction.However, in an experimental setting, triggering events can be systematically arranged by the researcher andtheir effects upon the content of group cultureexamined. This constitutes a valuable direction for research in this area. Summary. Five elements-the known culture, the usable culture, the functional culture, the appropriateculture, and the triggering event-influence the specific 6 Kelly (1967) has noted that distinctiveness or uniquenesstends to create attributionsfocusing on the characteristicsor properties of the distinctive other. In the case of persons, these attributionsgenerally refer to dispositions. Kelly also notes that consistency of behaviorover time or modality(as in the case of recurringtriggeringevents) produces attributionsbasedon the characteristicsof the other. 743 content of a group's idioculture.Different configurations of these five factors suggest how groups come to differin their culture, and why specific forms appear and remain in particulargroups. To this point, culturalforms have been analyzed using a single characteristic;in order to indicate the combined impact of all five we shallexamine the creationand usage of one particularculturalitem consideringall factors. During the middle of the season, the Beanville Rangerscreated and enforced a rule that no player could eat ice cream while sitting on the bench duringa game. This rule was triggeredby a combination of circumstances:it occurred in the context of a game in which the Rangers, by that time accustomed to victory, were being beaten. On the bench, one of the nonplayinglow status players was eating an ice creamcone. This situationtriggered the decision by the high status, older7 players (not the coach) that ice cream could not be eaten on the bench (although gum could be chewed). The rule was known in that it was compatible with the policy and perspectives of professional sports teams. It was usable in that it did not deal with any tabooed or threatening areas of children's culture, and it is comparable to the rules that children frequently make in interaction with each other (Piaget, 1932; Cooley, 1902). The rule was functional in relieving the frustration that the older players felt during that game, and in tendingto get the attention of the youngermemberson the team. Further, the presence of a set of rules or rituals may create a sense of group cohesion (Cartwrightand Zander, 1953) and satisfaction (Borgatta and Bales, 1953). Finally, it was appropriatein that it was propoundedby the high status membersto control the low status members. Later in the season an older, high status player did eat ice cream on the bench, and was not 7 Age (in years) and the percentage of the total number of sociometric choices received (with the opportunityfor each boy to name three team members as friends) correlated + .48 (p < .05) at the beginningof this season, +.59 (p < .02) in the middle of the season, and +.61 (p = .01) at the end of the season. This content downloaded from on Thu, 27 Aug 2015 03:41:30 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions 744 AMERICANSOCIOLOGICALREVIEW criticized by other team members, al- understandingthese systems for the comthough the rules remainedfor other team prehensionof the dynamicsof groups and cultural usage, we have deliberately members. overlooked the fact that these are also aesthetic systems, and are a product of CONCLUSION "artful" communication.At this point we Sociologists have had considerabledif- must share our goal of understanding ficulty in analyzingthe position of culture human behavior with the folklorist, the in society because of a general unwilling- critic, and the poet. ness to examine culture in its behavioral context. Culture,like all aspects of social life, is situationallygrounded and, thus, REFERENCES sociologists should bracket grand C. Charles Adams, theorizing about culture in favor of 1971 Boontling: An American Lingo. Austin: examiningit in situ. 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Becoming a Marihuana User Author(s): Howard S. Becker Source: The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 59, No. 3 (Nov., 1953), pp. 235-242 Published by: The University of Chicago Press Stable URL: . Accessed: 27/02/2011 13:46 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at . JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at . . Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact The University of Chicago Press is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to The American Journal of Sociology. BECOMING A MARIHUANA USER* HOWARD S. BECKER ABSTRACT An individualwill be able to use marihuanaforpleasureonly when he (1) learnsto smokeit in a way thatwillproducerealeffects;(2) learnsto recognizetheeffects and connectthemwithdruguse; and (3) learns to enjoythe sensationshe perceives.This proposition,based on an analysisoffifty interviewswithmarihuana users,calls into question theorieswhich ascribe behavior to antecedentpredispositionsand suggeststhe utilityof explainingbehaviorin termsof the emergenceof motivesand dispositionsin the courseof experience. The use ofmarihuanais and has beenthe thatthepresenceofa givenkindofbehavior focusofa gooddeal ofattentionon thepart is the resultof a sequenceof social experiof both scientistsand laymen.One of the ences duringwhich the personacquires a major problemsstudentsof the practice conceptionof themeaningof thebehavior, have addressedthemselvesto has been the and perceptionsand judgmentsof objects identification of thoseindividualpsycholog- and situations,all ofwhichmake theactivical traits which differentiate marihuana itypossibleand desirable.Thus,themotivausersfromnonusersand whichare assumed tionor dispositionto engagein theactivity to accountfortheuse of thedrug.That ap- is builtup in thecourseoflearningto engage proach,commonin the studyof behavior in it and does not antedate this learning categorized as deviant,is basedon theprem- process.For sucha viewit is not necessary ise thatthepresenceof a givenkindof be- to identify those"traits"which"cause" the havior in an individualcan best be ex- behavior.Instead,theproblembecomesone plainedas theresultofsometraitwhichpre- of describingthe set of changesin the perdisposesor motivateshim to engagein the son's conceptionof the activityand of the it providesforhim.2 experience behavior.' This paperseeksto describethesequence This studyis likewiseconcernedwithacwhich countingfor the presenceor absence of ofchangesin attitudeand experience marihuanause in an individual'sbehavior. lead to theuse of marihuanafor pleasure. It starts,however,froma different premise: Marihuanadoes not produceaddiction,as do alcoholand theopiatedrugs;thereis no $ Paper read at the meetingsof the MidwestSociological Society in Omaha, Nebraska, April 25, withdrawalsickness and no ineradicable 1953. The researchon whichthis paper is based was cravingfor the drug.3The most frequent done whileI was a memberof the staffof the Chi- patternof use mightbe termed"recreacago NarcoticsSurvey,a studydone by the Chicago tional."The drugis usedoccasionally forthe Area Project,Inc., undera grantfromthe National Mental Health Institute. My thanks to Solomon pleasure the user findsin it, a relatively with Kobrin,Harold Finestone,HenryMcKay, and An- casual kindofbehaviorin comparison selmStrauss,who read and discussedwithme earlier that connectedwith the use of addicting versionsof thispaper. drugs.The term"use forpleasure"is meant ' See, as examplesofthisapproach,the following: to emphasizethenoncompulsive and casual Eli Marcovitz and Henry J. Meyers, "The Marihuana Addictin the Army,"War Medicine,VI (December,1944), 382-91; HerbertS. Gaskill, "Marihuana, an Intoxicant,"AmericanJournalofPsychiatry,CII (September,1945), 202-4; Sol Charen and Luis Perelman,"PersonalityStudies of Marihuana Addicts," American Journal of Psychiatry,CII (March, 1946), 674-82. 2This approachstemsfromGeorgeHerbert Mead's discussion ofobjectsin Mind,Self,andSociety(Chicago:University ofChicagoPress,1934), pp. 277-80. 3Cf. RogerAdams,"Marihuana," Bulletinofthe New YorkAcademy of Medicine, XVIII (November,1942),705-30. 235 236 THE AMERICAN JOURNALOF SOCIOLOGY characterofthebehavior.It is also meantto froma varietyof social backgroundsand herethosefew presentpositionsin societyconstitutethe eliminatefromconsideration was concases in whichmarihuanais used for its data fromwhichthegeneralization prestigevalueonly,as a symbolthatoneis a structedand againstwhichit was tested.6 certainkindof person,withno pleasureat The interviews focusedon thehistoryofthe all beingderivedfromits use. person'sexperiencewiththe drug,seeking The analysispresentedhereis conceived majorchangesin his attitudetowardit and thegreaterexplanatory in his actual use of it and the reasonsfor ofas demonstrating is a usefulnessof the kind of theoryoutlined thesechanges.The finalgeneralization above as opposed to the predispositional statement ofthatsequenceofchangesin attheoriesnow current.This may be seen in titudewhichoccurredin everycase known two ways: (1) predispositionaltheories to me in whichthepersoncameto use maricannot account for that group of users huana forpleasure.Untila negativecase is (whoseexistenceis admitted)4who do not found,it may be consideredas an explanaexhibitthe trait or traits consideredto tionofall cases ofmarihuanause forpleascause the behaviorand (2) such theories ure.In addition,changesfromuse to nonuse over are shownto be relatedto similarchangesin cannotaccountforthegreatvariability timeof a givenindividual'sbehaviorwith conception, and in each case it is possibleto to thedrug.The samepersonwill explainvariationsin theindividual'sbehavreference at one stage be unable to use the drugfor ior in theseterms. pleasure,at a laterstagebe able and willing This paper coversonlya portionof the to do so, and, stilllater,again be unableto natural historyof an individual'suse of to marihuana,7 use it in thisway.Thesechanges,difficult withthepersonhaving starting or motiva- arrivedat the point of willingnessto try explainfroma predispositional in marihuana.He knowsthatothersuse it to tionaltheory,are readilyunderstandable termsofchangesin theindividual'sconcep- "get high,"but he does notknowwhatthis tionof thedrugas is the existenceof "nor- meansinconcreteterms.He is curiousabout mal" users. ofwhatit mayturn ignorant theexperience, The studyattemptedto arriveat a gen- out to be, and afraidthat it may be more ofthesequenceofchangesin thanhe has bargainedfor.The steps outeralstatement individualattitudeand experiencewhich lined below,if he undergoesthemall and have always occurredwhen the individual maintainsthe attitudesdevelopedin them, has becomewillingand able to use mari- leave himwillingand able to use the drug huana forpleasureand whichhave not oc- forpleasurewhentheopportunity presents maintained itself. curredor notbeenpennanently whenthisis not the case. This generalizationis statedinuniversaltermsinorderthat get high The novicedoes not ordinarily negativecases may be discoveredand used and sevtime he smokes marihuana, first the hypothesis.5 to revisetheexplanatory to inare necessary usually eral attempts users marihuana with interviews Fifty of this may state. explanation this One duce I Cf.Lawrence Kolb,"Marihuana,"FederalProis smoked the not "properly," that drug be II (July,1938),22-25;andWalterBromberg, bation, dosStudy,"Journalofthe thatis, in a way thatinsuressufficient "Marihuana:A Psychiatric CX:I (July1,1939), age to producereal symptomsof intoxicaAmerican MedicalAssociation, 11. 5The method R. byAlfred usedis thatdescribed 6Mostoftheinterviews weredonebytheauthor. and HaroldFineKobrin to Solomon grateful I am (Bloomington: inhis OpiateAddiction Lindesmith done ofinterviews use to make me for allowing stone Principia Press,1947),chap.i. I wouldlikealso to work bythem. roleLindesmith's theimportant acknowledge 7 I hope to discusselsewhereotherstages in this aboutthegenesisof playedin shapingmythinking naturalhistory. use. marihuana BECOMING A MARIHUANAUSER 237 learn throughthe more indirectmeans of observationand imitation: on[smoked mariI cameonlikeI hadturned youknow.I didn't huana]manytimesbefore, wantto seemlikea punkto thiscat.See,likeI didn'tknowthefirstthingaboutit-how to orwhat. smokeit,orwhatwasgoingtohappen, himlikea hawk-I didn'ttake I justwatched Withouttheuse ofsomesuchtechnique8 myeyesoffhimfora second,becauseI wanted thedrugwillproduceno effects, and theuser todoeverything how justas hedidit.I watched willbe unableto get high: he heldit,howhe smokedit,and everything. The troublewithpeoplelikethat[whoare ThenwhenhegaveittomeI justcameoncool, I knewexactlywhatthescorewas.I notable to get high]is thatthey'rejust not as though smoking it right, that'sall thereis to it. Either helditlikehedidandtooka pokejusttheway they'renot holdingit downlongenough,or he did. they'regettingtoo muchair and not enough No personcontinuedmarihuanause for smoke,or theotherwayaroundor somethingpleasurewithoutlearninga techniquethat likethat.A lot of peoplejust don'tsmokeit of dosageforthe effects suppliedsufficient right, so naturally nothing's gonnahappen. the drug to appear. Only when this was If nothinghappens,it is manifestly i'mpos- learnedwas it possiblefora conceptionof siblefortheuserto developa conceptionof the drugas an object whichcould be used thedrugas an objectwhichcan be used for forpleasureto emerge.Withoutsucha connotcontinue. ception marihuana use was considered pleasure,and use willtherefore The firststepin thesequenceofeventsthat meaningless and did not continue. mustoccurifthepersonis to becomea user II is thathe mustlearnto use thepropersmoking techniquein orderthat his use of the Even afterhe learnsthepropersmoking drugwillproducesome effectsin termsof technique,the new user may not get high whichhis conceptionof it can change. and thusnotforma conceptionof thedrug Such a changeis, as mightbe expected,a as something whichcan be usedforpleasure. resultof the individual'sparticipationin A remarkmadeby a usersuggestedthereagroupsin whichmarihuanais used.In them son for this difficulty in gettinghigh and the individuallearns the proper way to pointedto the next necessarystep on the smokethe drug.This may occur through road to beinga user: directteaching: "Asa matter I wastoldduring an interview, I was smoking likeI did an ordinary ciga- offact,I've seena guywhowashighoutofhis rette.He said,"No, don'tdo it likethat."He mindanddidn'tknowit." said,"Suckit,youknow,drawinandholditin I expressed "How can that be, disbelief: yourlungstillyou... fora periodoftime." man?" I said,"Is there anylimitoftimetoholdit?" The interviewee said, "Well, it's pretty He said, "No, just tillyou feelthatyou strange, I'll grantyou that,but I've seenit. wantto let it out,let it out." So I did that This guygoton withme,claiming thathe'd threeor fourtimes. nevergothigh,one of thoseguys,and he got Andhekeptinsisting thathe stoned. completely Many newusersare ashamedto admitigno- wasn'thigh.So I had to proveto himthathe ranceand,pretending toknowalready,must was." tion. Most users agree that it cannot be smokedlike tobacco if one is to get high: Take in a lot of air,you know,and ... I don'tknowhowto describe it,youdon'tsmoke it likea cigarette, youdrawin a lotofairand getit deepdowninyoursystem and thenkeep it there.Keep it thereas longas youcan. 8A pharmacologist notesthatthisritualis infact What does this mean? It suggeststhat an extremely efficient wayofgetting thedruginto being high consistsof two elements:the thebloodstream(R. P. Walton,Marihuana: Americausedby marihuana ca's NewDrugProblem [Philadelphia: J. B. Lippin- presenceofsymptoms use and the recognition of thesesymptoms cott,1938],p. 48). 238 THE AMERICAN JOURNALOF SOCIOLOGY Theywerejustlaughing thehellout ofme by theuserwithhisuse and theirconnection ofthedrug.It is notenough,thatis,thatthe becauselikeI waseatingso much.I justscoffed effects be present;theyalone do not auto- [ate]so muchfood,andtheywerejustlaughing I'd be lookingat maticallyprovidethe experienceof being at me,youknow.Sometimes youknow,wondering whythey're laughhigh.The usermustbe able to pointthem them, youknow,notknowing whatI wasdoing. ing, and consciously connectthem [Well,didtheyteHl out to himself youwhytheywerelaughing with his havingsmokedmarihuanabefore eventually?] Yeah, yeah,I comeback,"Hey, he can have thisexperience.Otherwise,re- man,what'shappening?" Like,youknow,like gardlessof the actual effectsproduced,he I'd ask,"What'shappening?" andall ofa sudon denI feelweird,youknow."Man,you'reon, considersthatthedrughas had no effect on me youknow.You'reonpot[highonmarihuana]." it eitherhad no effect him:"I figured its effect I said,"No, am I?" LikeI don'tknowwhat's or otherpeoplewereexaggerating on them,you know.I thoughtit was prob- happening. see." Such personsbe- The learningmay occur in more indirect ably psychological, lievethatthewholethingis an illusionand ways: that the wish to be highleads the user to I heardlittleremarks thatweremade by deceive himselfinto believingthat some- otherpeople.Somebody said,"Mylegsarerubthingis happeningwhen,in fact,nothingis. bery,"and I can't remember all theremarks Theydo notcontinuemarihuanause,feeling thatweremadebecauseI wasveryattentively that"it does nothing"forthem. forall thesecuesforwhatI was suplistening Typically,however,the novicehas faith posedto feellike. (developed fromhis observationof users The novice,then,eagerto have thisfeelwhodo gethigh)thatthedrugactuallywill ing,picksup fromotheruserssomeconcrete producesomenewexperienceand continues referentsof the term"high" and applies withit untilit does. His failto experiment these notionsto his own experience.The ure to gethighworrieshim,and he is likely newconceptsmakeit possibleforhimto loto ask moreexperiencedusers or provoke cate thesesymptoms amonghis own sensafromthemabout it. In suchconcomments tionsand to pointout to himselfa "someversationshe is made aware of specificdein his experiencethat he thingdifferent" tails of his experiencewhichhe may not connectswithdruguse. It is onlywhenhe have noticedor mayhave noticedbut failed can do thisthathe is high.In thenextcase, as symptoms ofbeinghigh: to identify thecontrastbetweentwosuccessiveexperiI didn'tgethighthefirsttime.... I don't encesof a usermakesclear the crucialimletit portanceof theawarenessof the symptoms thinkI heldit inlongenough.I probably Thesecond in beinghighand re-emphasizes you'rea littleafraid. out,youknow, theimportimeI wasn'tsure,andhe [smoking companion] tant role of interaction withotherusersin toldme,likeI askedhimforsomeofthesymphow wouldI know,you acquiring the concepts that make this tomsor something, know.... So he toldmeto siton a stool.I sat awarenesspossible: on-I thinkI sat on a barstool-andhe said, [Did you get highthe firsttimeyou turned "Let yourfeethang,"and thenwhenI got on?]Yeah, sure.Although,cometo thinkofit,I downmyfeetwererealcold,youknow. guessI reallydidn't.I mean,like thatfirsttime AndI started it,youknow.Thatwas it was moreor lessofa milddrunk.I was happy, feeling thefirst time.Andthenabouta weekafterthat, I guess,you knowwhat I mean. But I didn't closetoit,I reallygoton.That reallyknowI was high,you knowwhatI mean. sometime pretty kick, It was onlyafterthesecondtimeI gothighthat was thefirsttimeI gotona biglaughing youknow.ThenI reallyknewI wason. I realizedI was highthefirsttime.Then I knew that somethingdifferent was happening. One symptomof being high is an intense [How did you knowthat?]How did I know? hunger.In thenextcase thenovicebecomes If what happened to me that nightwould of awareofthisand getshighforthefirsttime: happenedto you,you would'veknown,believe BECOMING A MARIHUANAUSER 239 me. We playedthefirsttuneforalmosttwo longerknow whetherthe marihuanagets man!Wegoton the themhigh. Second, in those few cases in hours-onetune!Imagine, standand playedthisone tune,we startedat whichan individualuses marihuanain such I lookedat quantitiesthathe is alwayshigh,he is apt to nineo'clock.Whenwegotfinished mywatch,it'sa quarterto eleven.Almosttwo get thissame feelingthat the drughas no hourson onetune.Andit didn'tseemlikeanyon him,sincetheessentialelementofa effect thing. betweenfeelinghigh difference noticeable It's you. to does that I mean,youknow,it normalis missing.In sucha situlikeyou havemuchmoretimeor something.and feeling Anyway,whenI saw that,man,it was too ation, use is likely to be given up commuch.I knewI mustreallybe highor some- pletely,but temporarily, in orderthat the likethatcouldhappen.See, usermayonceagainbe able to perceivethe thingifanything tomethatthat'swhat difference. andthentheyexplained senseoftime it didto you,youhad a different III So I realizedthatthat'swhatit andeverything. time,I probably Onemorestepis necessaryiftheuserwho was.I knewthen.Likethefirst feltthatway,you know,but I didn'tknow has now learnedto get highis to continue what'shappening. he has use.He mustlearnto enjoytheeffects It is onlywhenthenovicebecomesable to just learnedto experience.Marihuana-progethighin thissensethathe willcontinueto duced sensationsare not automaticallyor use marihuanaforpleasure.In everycase in necessarilypleasurable.The taste forsuch is a sociallyacquiredone,notdifwhichuse continued,theuserhad acquired experience the necessaryconceptswith whichto ex- ferentin kindfromacquiredtastesforoyspress to himselfthe fact that he was ex- tersor dry martinis.The user feelsdizzy, periencingnew sensationscaused by the thirsty;his scalp tingles;he misjudgestime drug.That is,foruse to continue,it is neces- and distances;and so on. Are thesethings sarynot onlyto use the drugso as to pro- pleasurable?He isn't sure.If he is to conduce effectsbut also to learn to perceive tinuemarihuanause, he must decide that whentheyoccur.In thisway theyare. Otherwise,gettinghigh,whilea theseeffects willbe an unpleasmarihuanaacquiresmeaningfortheuseras real enoughexperience, avoid. rather he would one ant be used for can which pleasure. an object The effectsof the drug,whenfirstperWith increasingexperiencethe user develops a greaterappreciationof the drug's ceived,may be physicallyunpleasantor at effects;he continuesto learn to get high. least ambiguous: closely, He examinessucceedingexperiences and I didn'tknow It startedtakingeffect, you know,whatit was, forneweffects, makingsuretheold whatwas happening, looking, onesare stillthere.Outofthistheregrowsa andI wasverysick.I walkedaroundtheroom, you to getoff, aroundtheroomtrying the walking stableset of categoriesforexperiencing I know. you me first, at just scared it know; the drug's effectswhose presenceenables offeeling. kind to that used wasn't userto gethighwithease. The abilityto perceivethedrug'seffects In addition,the novice'snaive interpretamustbe maintainedifuse is to continue;if tionof what is happeningto himmay furit is lost,marihuanauseceases.Two kindsof therconfuseand frighten him,particularly evidence support this statement.First, if he decides,as manydo, that he is going peoplewho becomeheavy usersof alcohol, insane: or opiates do not continueto barbiturates, to get smokemarihuana,largelybecausetheylose tencyofthedrug.Theyfindit verydifficult whiskeyand becauseof that betweenits effects 'high'whiledrinking theabilityto distinguish willnotdrinkwhileusingthe'weed'" (cf. and those of the other drugs.9They no smokers on York Committee New CityMayor's Marihuana, 9"'Smokershaverepeatedly statedthatthecon- The MarihuanaProblemin theCityof New York ofwhiskey sumption whilesmoking negatesthepo- p. 13). Pa.: JacquesCattellPress,19441, [Lancaster, 240 THE AMERICAN JOURNALOF SOCIOLOGY I feltI was insane,you know.Everythingin a numberof ways, teach the novice to peopledoneto me justwiggedme. I couldn't findpleasurein thisexperiencewhichis at holda conversation, and mymindwouldbe firstso frightening.'0 Theymayreassurehim wandering, and I was alwaysthinking, oh, I as to the temporarycharacterof the undon'tknow, weirdthings, musicdif- pleasantsensationsand minimizetheirserilikehearing ferent.. . . I get thefeelingthatI can't talk to ousness,at the same timecallingattention anyone.I'll goofcompletely. to the moreenjoyableaspects. An experiGiven these typicallyfrightening and enced user describeshow he handlesnewunpleasantfirstexperiences,the beginner comersto marihuanause: willnot continueuse unlesshe learnsto reThe Well,theygetprettyhighsometimes. definethesensationsas pleasurable: averagepersonisn'treadyforthat,and it is a I mean, to themsometimes. It wasoffered to me,and I triedit. I'll tell littlefrightening and they you one thing.I neverdid enjoyit at all. I they'vebeenhighon lush[alcohol], thatwaythanthey'veeverbeenbemeanit was just nothing thatI couldenjoy. gethigher to [Well,did yougethighwhenyou turnedon?] fore,and theydon'tknowwhat'shappening goingtokeep Oh,yeah,I gotdefinite fromit. But I them.Becausetheythinkthey're feelings didn'tenjoythem.I meanI gotplenty ofreac- goingup, up, up tilltheylose theirmindsor You of fear. begindoingweirdthingsor something. tions,but theyweremostlyreactions them, explaintothemthat [Youwerefrightened?] Yes. I didn'tenjoyit. I havetolikereassure that or anything, couldn't seemtorelaxwithit,youknow.Ifyou they'renot reallyflipping You havetojusttalk gonnabe all right. can'trelaxwitha thing, youcan'tenjoyit,I they're to them, themoutofbeingafraid.Keeptalking don'tthink. Andcome themit'sall right. telling reassuring, In othercases thefirstexperiences werealso on withyourownstory, youknow:"Thesame definitely unpleasant,but the person did thinghappenedto me. You'll get to likethat become a marihuanauser. This occurred, afterawhile."Keepcoming on likethat;pretty however,only aftera later experienceen- soonyou talkthemout of beingscared.And horabled him to redefinethe sensationsas besidestheyseeyoudoingit and nothing to you,so thatgivesthem ribleis happening pleasurable: moreconfidence. [Thisman'sfirstexperience was extremely unpleasant, involving distortion ofspatialrela- The moreexperiencedusermay also teach tionships and sounds,violentthirst, and panic thenoviceto regulatetheamounthe smokes producedby thesesymptoms.] Afterthefirst morecarefully, so as to avoid any severely timeI didn'tturnon forabout,I'd say,ten uncomfortable symptomswhile retaining months to a year.... It wasn'ta moralthing; the pleasant ones. Finally,he teaches the itwasbecauseI'd gottenso frightened, bein'so new user that he can "get to like it after high.An' I didn'twantto go through that again,I mean,myreaction was,"Well,ifthisis awhile."He teacheshimto regardthoseamdefinedas unformerly whattheycallbein'high,I don'tdig[like]it." biguousexperiences The older userinthe as enjoyable. pleasant . . . So I didn'tturnon fora yearalmost,acincidentis a personwhosetastes following countathat.... an' consequently I have shiftedin this way, and his remarks Well,myfriends started, startedagain.But I didn'thaveany more,I have the effectof helpingothersto make a didn'thave thatsameinitialreaction, afterI similarredefinition: on again. startedturning of the A newuserhad herfirstexperience withhis friends he became [In interaction and ofmarihuana andbecamefrightened able to findpleasurein theeffects of thedrug effects half half in and was like she "felt She hysterical. andeventually becamea regular user.] of a number outoftheroom"and experienced In no case willuse continuewithoutsucha alarming Oneof themore physicalsymptoms. userspresentsaid,"She'sdragged experienced redefinition of theeffects as enjoyable. to This redefinition occurs,typically,in in- becauseshe'shighlikethat.I'd giveanything 10Charenand Perelman, teractionwithmoreexperienced userswho, op.cit.,p. 679. BECOMING A MARIHUANAUSER 241 getthathighmyself. I haven'tbeenthathighin thebasement, youknow,I justcouldn'tstayin years." thereanymore.My heartwas poundingreal hard,you know,and I was goingout of my In short,whatwas once frightening and mind;I thought I was losingmymindcomdistastefulbecomes,aftera taste forit is pletely.So I cutoutofthisbasement, and this builtup,pleasant,desired,and soughtafter. otherguy,he'soutofhismind,toldme,"Don't, Enjoymentis introducedby the favorable don't leave me, man. Stay here." And I definitionof the experiencethat one ac- couldn't. I walkedoutside, andit wasfivebelowzero, quiresfromothers.Withoutthis,use will I wasdying, and I hadmycoat not continue,formarihuanawillnot be for and I thought I was perspiring. My the useran object he can use forpleasure. open; I was sweating, whole insides were all ... , and I walked about In additionto beinga necessarystep in twoblocksaway,andI fainted behinda bush.I an impor- don'tknowhowlongI laidthere. becominga user,thisrepresents I wokeup,and tantconditionforcontinueduse. It is quite I wasfeeling theworst, I can'tdescribe itat all, commonforexperienceduserssuddenlyto so I madeit toa bowling alley,man,andI was have an unpleasantor frightening experi- trying toactnormal, I wastrying toshootpool, ence,whichtheycannotdefineas pleasur- you know,tryingto act real normal,and I able, eitherbecausetheyhave used a larger couldn'tlay and I couldn'tstandup and I amountofmarihuanathanusual or because couldn'tsitdown,andI wentup andlaiddown it turnsout to be a higher-quality mari- wheresomeguysthatspotpinslaydown,and huanathantheyexpected.The userhas sen- thatdidn'thelpme,andI wentdownto a doc tor'soffice. I wasgoingtogointhere andtellthe sationswhichgo beyondany conceptionhe doctortoputmeoutofmy ... because misery has ofwhatbeinghighis and is in muchthe myheartwaspounding so hard,youknow.... samesituationas thenovice,uncomfortableSo thenall weekendI startedflipping, seeing and frightened. He mayblameit on an over- things thereandgoingthrough hell,youknow, dose and simplybe morecarefulin the fu- all kindsofabnormal things.... I justquitfor ture.But he maymakethistheoccasionfor a longtimethen. thesymp[He wentto a doctorwhodefined a rethinking ofhis attitudetowardthedrug breakdown and decide that it no longercan give him tomsforhimas thoseofa nervous and "worries." Although he pleasure.When this occursand is not fol- causedby"nerves" was no longerusingmarihuana, he had some lowed by a redefinition of the drugas ca- recurrences of thesymptoms whichled himto pable of producingpleasure,use willcease. suspectthat"it was all his nerves."]So I just The likelihoodof such a redefinition oc- stoppedworrying, you know;so it was about curring dependson thedegreeoftheindivid- thirty-six monthslater I startedmakingit ual's participation withotherusers.Where again.I'd justtakea fewpokes,youknow.[He thisparticipation is intensive, use in thecompany of thesame theindividual firstresumed withwhomhehadbeeninvolved in is quicklytalkedout of his feelingagainst user-friend incident.] marihuanause. In the next case, on the theoriginal otherhand, the experiencewas very disA person,then,cannotbeginto use marlturbing,and the aftermath of the incident huana forpleasure,or continueits use for cut the person'sparticipationwith other pleasure,unlesshe learnsto defineitseffects usersto almostzero. Use stoppedforthree as enjoyable,unlessit becomesand remains years and began again only when a com- an objectwhichhe conceivesofas capableof binationofcircumstances, important among producingpleasure. whichwas a resumption of ties withusers, made possiblea redefinition of the nature IV of thedrug: In summary, an individualwillbe able to It wastoomuch,likeI onlymadeaboutfour use marihuanaforpleasureonly when he pokes,and I couldn'tevenget it out of my goes througha processof learningto conI wasso high,andI gotrealflipped. mouth, In ceiveofit as an objectwhichcan be used in 242 THE AMERICAN JOURNALOF SOCIOLOGY this way. No one becomesa user without havior, the evidencemakes it clear that (1) learningto smoke the drug in a way marihuanause forpleasurecan occuronly whichwillproducereal effects;(2) learning whentheprocessdescribedabove is underto recognizethe effectsand connectthem gone and cannotoccurwithoutit. This is to the nawithdruguse (learning,in otherwords,to apparentlyso withoutreference gethigh);and (3) learningto enjoythesen- tureof theindividual'spersonalmakeupor sationshe perceives.In the courseof this psychicproblems.Suchtheoriesassumethat or motiva- peoplehave stablemodesofresponsewhich processhe developsa disposition tion to use marihuanawhichwas not and predetermine theway theywillact in relacouldnothave beenpresentwhenhe began tionto anyI articularsituationorobjectand use, forit involvesand dependson concep- that,whentheycome in contactwiththe tionsofthedrugwhichcouldonlygrowout given object or situation,they act in the of the kind of actual experiencedetailed way in which their makeup predisposes above. On completionof thisprocesshe is them. willingand able to use marihuanaforpleasThis analysisofthegenesisofmarihuana ure. use showsthattheindividualswhocomein He has learned,in short,to answer"Yes" contactwitha givenobjectmayrespondto to the question:"Is it fun?"The direction it at firstin a greatvarietyof ways. If a use ofthedrugtakesdependson stableformof newbehaviortowardtheobhisfurther ofmeanhis beingable to continueto answer"Yes" ject is to emerge,a transformation to this questionand, in addition,on his ingsmustoccur,in whichthepersondevelbeingable to answer"Yes" to otherques- ops a new conceptionof the natureof the tionswhichariseas he becomesawareofthe object.'2This happensin a seriesof comofthefactthatthesocietyas a municativeacts in whichotherspoint out implications to him,present wholedisapprovesofthepractice:"Is it ex- newaspectsofhisexperience ofevents,and pedient?""Is it moral?"" Once he has ac- himwithnewinterpretations quiredthe abilityto get enjoymentout of helphimachievea newconceptualorganizathedrug,use willcontinueto be possiblefor tionofhisworld,withoutwhichthenewbehim. Considerationsof moralityand ex- havioris not possible.Personswho do not pediency,occasionedby thereactionsofso- achievetheproperkindofconceptualization and inhibituse,but use are unable to engagein the givenbehavior ciety,mayinterfere continuesto be a possibilityin termsof his and turnoffin the directionof someother ofthedrug.The act becomesim- relationship conception to theobjector activity. possibleonlywhenthe abilityto enjoythe This suggeststhatbehaviorof any kind be studieddevelopmentally, experienceof beinghighis lost, througha mightfruitfully changein theuser'sconceptionof the drug in termsof changesin meaningsand conand reorganization, occasionedby certainkinds of experience cepts,theirorganization withit. and theway theychannelbehavior,making In comparingthis theorywith those some acts possiblewhileexcludingothers. whichascribemarihuanause to motivesor rooteddeepin individualbe- UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS predispositions 11Anotherpaperwilldiscussthe seriesofdevelopmentsin attitudethatoccursas theindividualbegins to take account of these mattersand adjust his use to them. 12Cf. Anselm Strauss, "The Development and Transformationof Monetary Meanings in the Child," AmericanSociologicalReview,XVII (June, 1952), 275-86.

Tutor Answer

School: Rice University




Consumer Culture



The concept of consumer culture studies the manner that people will make their purchase
decision based on the cultural or social viewpoint as opposed to the fact if the purchase makes
economic sense (Arnould & Thompson, 2005). This concept attempts to identify a relationship
between the culture and society and the manner that the people make their purchase decisions
which in many cases would defy logic. In many instances, this has been used by makers of
different products to appeal to the buyers of a certain demographic. That being the case, it means
that consumer culture is central to answering the question of why people buy products and
I recently purchased 3 pairs of designer Nike sneaker which by my standards were quite
pricy. While buying the sneakers, there was thought at the back of...

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Good stuff. Would use again.

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