psy.au.dk.AbstractBACKGROUND:

Illegal drug dealers no longer compete for customers only through the quality of their products, but also in convenience and speed of delivery. This article investigates « ring and bring » drug dealing, and argues that a focus on dealers’ use of mobile phones is useful for exploring current changes within retail level drug markets.

METHODS:

The article is based on 21 face-to-face in-depth interviews with active drug dealers in Denmark all of whom were involved in the delivery of drugs (mainly cannabis and cocaine) often to buyers’ homes.

RESULTS:

Contrary to studies emphasising how drug dealers often take up new communication technologies with enthusiasm, the dealers in this study displayed a technological conservatist stance. Moreover, mobile phones have become key to dealers’ construction of in-group hierarchies, and have led to retail level drug selling becoming more flexible, individualised and more of a service on par with other services in the consumer society. Finally, the increasing use of mobile phones has also created a situation where portfolios of drug customers, held on cell phone SIM cards, are today traded and sold alongside other commodities in the drug economy.

CONCLUSION:

We show how a social constructivist approach to technology can provide a more detailed and nuanced account of the socio-technical ensemble and the meaning-making processes giving shape to retail level « delivery dealing. »

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