ADIR - L'altro diritto

ISSN 1827-0565

Ethnography of addiction, heroine culture and social marginality

Vieri Lenzi, 1999


Addiction has been studied so far mainly from a legislative or therapeutic perspective. These approaches, usually based on the analysis of statistical data, do not pay much attention to the daily life of the addicts.

Ethnography can fill the gaps between social theory and everyday life, studying a phenomenon in its natural environment.

Studying heroine as a subculture, and as a network of exchanges with other subcultures, unveil a group of human beings, more or less young, that share a daily experience of solidarity and acquaintances. Anyone have developed his own life experiences, and most of the time a problematic personality. Living together with heroine addiction is extremely tough, and a single person, abandoned and with no relationships, cannot win the daily difficulties and sufferings.

This is why to cope with such an addiction, people develop stable relationships that slowly turns into subcultures, with their principles and values.

This research aims at presenting, in an ethnographic and journalistic style, these subcultures, as they can be meet in few limited areas of the city centre of Florence (Santissima Annunziata square, San Pierino arch and surroundings). The attempt is to describe these subcultures, to enter their web of meanings, rules and rituals, through a detailed account of the daily interactions an experiences.