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The impact of the crack trade in the everyday lives of marginalised youth in urban Brazil

Awarded: NOK 2.0 mill.

This research project examines the impact of the drug trade among marginalized youth (12 to 25 years ) in a poor neighborhood in Salvador, Brazil. The project's main aim is to increase our understanding of how young people experience the presence of drugs, and the crack epidemic in particular, and how drugs affect the everyday of poor youths in urban Brazil. The research is based on two fieldworks. The first and main fieldwork was executed in 2013, and included participant observation among young people in a chosen favela, as well as approx. fifty interviews with youth, parents and professionals working with drug-related topics. The second and last fieldwork was conducted in 2015, and involved presentations and discussions regards preliminary analysis with stakeholders, policy makers and researchers on a community as well as national level. Analysed material will also be published in academic journals. The project includes youth who are directly involved in the drug trade, using or selling, and youth who are indirectly affected by this trade. In this way, the project also focuses on aspects that are less visible in the media debate, such as how crack addiction can lead to increased domestic violence and neighbourhood crime. The main research findings have been the multi-dimensional consequences of the presence of the drug trade in the lives of the many youths who themselves are not directly involved in it, as relatives, friends and neighbors of those involved.

This research project explores the impact of the crack trade among marginalised youth (aged 12 to 25), originated from deprived, urban communities in Salvador, Brazil. The project intends to increase our understanding of how the young people themselves ex perience crack and its influence on their everyday lives at home and in the local communities. The project includes a broad focus on youth, found at different life phases and geographical locations, embracing both youth who avoid drugs, and youth who are involved in drugs (consumption and/or distribution), in order to assess how the issue of drug plays out in the daily lives of young people far beyond its users and sellers. The project addresses an issue that is of considerably concern in Brazil and inte rnationally. Public debates tend to focus on the most extreme aspects of the crack trade, such as drug-trafficking, drug addiction and drug-related homicides. This research aims to explore such phenomena but also phenomena which are more invisible in wide r society, such as addiction and violence in the domestic sphere, as well as property crime and drug use in the local communities. In this way, the research focuses on cause and (direct and indirect) effect of the drug trade among youth, locating drug-rel ated phenomena in the context of young people's everyday lives in deprived, urban communities more generally. The research involves a qualitative methodological approach, combining participant observation, focus groups and narrative interviews. It will also draw on quantitative secondary data. The actor-network theory will be employed to contextualise and analyse the empirical material. The project is informed by multi-disciplinary literature and seeks to bridge the gap between social sciences and medic ine in drug-related research. It also intends to engage stakeholders throughout the research process, and the implications of the research will eventually be communicated to both stakeholders and policy-makers.

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