Stilig eller stigma? En sosiologisk studie om ungdom, røyking og identitet
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Original versionSeries of Dissertations submitted to the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Oslo. Unipub forlag, 2008
Arbeidet handler om hvordan røykere beskriver og begrunner egen røyking i en sosial og kulturell sammenheng. Analysen fokuserer på hvordan røyking får betydning for opplevelse og utforming av identitet. RøykeidentitetAnalysene er basert på dybdeintervjuer med 21 røykere mellom 18 og 23 år, i tillegg til en spørreundersøkelse om av og til-røyking med ca 2500 ungdommer mellom 16 og 19 år. I intervjuene ble røykeridentitet ofte knyttet til individualitet, opposisjon og tøffhet. De unge røykerne snakket også om røyking som trøst, avslapning og avkobling. Disse fortellingene stemmer overens med hva røyking tradisjonelt har betydd og blitt brukt til. Røyking i et tobakksnegativt klimaSamtidig oppstår nye fortellinger i et mer tobakksnegativt sosialt klima. Røykerne skaper disse både for å yte motstand og forhandle med samfunnet rundt. Å røyke i kontrollerte former – bare av og til, og på bestemte måter – ble for eksempel gjort til noe annet og mer akseptabelt enn røyking generelt. I analysen forstås dette som å skape en røykeridentitet som ikke handler om å være avhengig eller sosialt marginalisert. Studien ser på røyking som en handling med sentral betydning i ungdoms hverdagsliv. Samtidig peker analysen på at den meningen røyking har er skapt innenfor bestemte sosiale og kulturelle rammer, og kan endres.While the research literature on youth smoking is extensive and has identified important risk factors for tobacco use, it has until recently paid little attention to the significance of the social meaning of smoking in the context of people’s everyday life. Instead, smoking has primarily been seen as individual level health behaviour or as the result of individual problems. An understanding of smokers’ self-definition in relation to tobacco use is important in order to understand more about how factors correlated with smoking are important. In this study, young adult smokers’ accounts of their experiences with smoking are analyzed with a view to exploring the positioning of smoking in constructions of identity. How young adults who smoke talk about themselves as smokers, and the meanings they construct in relation to their smoking have been of particular interest, together with the context in which these meanings and identity constructions appear. Possible implications of the findings for the design of health promotion approaches targeting young smokers are also discussed. The thesis consists of four papers and an introduction that summarises empirical, theoretical and methodological issues related to all four papers. Paper 1 is based on a survey (N=2484) among adolescents aged 16 to 19, the three other are based on in-depth interviews with 21 male and female smokers aged 18-23. Paper 1 shows how adolescent occasional smokers differ from daily smokers in educational choices and in cultural identification and -preferences. In each area, daily smokers tend to make choices that correlate with lower cultural capital levels. Occasional smokers also show greater confidence in ability to quit smoking, and in the belief that they will not be smokers by age 25. Occasional smoking is interpreted as a means to construct an identity of control and of difference from daily smoking. Paper 2 explores young smokers’ accounts of continuing to smoke, in a context of increasing structural and symbolic pressure to quit. It shows how the interviewees described themselves in various ways as ‘in control’ of their smoking, discursively rejecting addiction. They also spoke about control in accounts of calculation of risk of ill health, and of compensating for smoking by other health promoting lifestyles. At the same time the interviewees talked about smoking in a way that opposed this rational discourse, highlighting pleasure and an emotional and metaphysical side of smoking. Paper 3 discusses the role of cigarette brands and cigarette package design in young smokers' constructions of smoker identities. Brand choice was described as enabling the communication of personal characteristics, social identity and positions in hierarchies of status. The cigarette package appeared as an important element in these brand images. The paper concludes that branding and package design appears to function to promote tobacco products by means of similar principles that make advertising effective: by creating preferences, differentiation and identification. Paper 4 describes three key identities that were read out of the interviewees’ accounts: the performative smoker, a construction related mainly to smoking initiation, the defensive smoker and the negotiating smoker. The smoker identities as constructed by young adult smokers in this study appeared to be characterized by considerable contradiction: a ‘split vision’ of classical positive meanings of smoking as a symbol of freedom, courage and individuality together with conflicting yet parallel meanings positioned by a strong discourse of smoking as stigma, immoral and undistinguished. Theoretical perspectives on identity, distinction and self-monitoring are applied to explore young adults’ accounts of smoking in this work. The analysis points to how the visibility of smoking can make it a useful medium for communicating messages of identity to others, as well as to oneself.