Between Pleasure and Resistance: The Role of Substance Consumption in an Italian Working-Class Subculture

Societies. 2019;9(3):58 DOI 10.3390/soc9030058


Journal Homepage

Journal Title: Societies

ISSN: 2075-4698 (Print)

Publisher: MDPI AG

LCC Subject Category: Social Sciences: Social sciences (General)

Country of publisher: Switzerland

Language of fulltext: English

Full-text formats available: PDF, HTML



Matteo Di Placido (Department of Sociology and Social Research, University of Milan—Bicocca, 20126 Milan, Italy)


Blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 11 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

In this article I discuss how illegal substance consumption can act as a tool of resistance and as an identity signifier for young people through a covert ethnographic case study of a working-class subculture in Genoa, North-Western Italy. I develop my argument through a coupled reading of the work of the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) and more recent post-structural developments in the fields of youth studies and cultural critical criminology. I discuss how these apparently contrasting lines of inquiry, when jointly used, shed light on different aspects of the cultural practices of specific subcultures contributing to reflect on the study of youth cultures and subcultures in today&#8217;s society and overcoming some of the &#8216;dead ends&#8217; of the opposition between the scholarly categories of subculture and post-subculture. In fact, through an analysis of the <i>sites</i>, <i>socialization</i><i> processes</i><i>,</i> and <i>hedonistic ethos</i> of the subculture, I show how within a single subculture there could be a coexistence of: resistance practices and subversive styles of expression as the CCCS research program posits; and signs of fragmentary and partial aesthetic engagements devoid of political contents and instead primarily oriented towards the affirmation of the individual, as argued by the adherents of the post-subcultural position.