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Consumption, drugs and style: Constructing intra-ethnic boundaries in Asian American youth cultures

Consumption, drugs and style: Constructing intra-ethnic boundaries in Asian American youth cultures

Abstract

Based on 250 qualitative interviews with Asian American young men and women in the dance/club scenes in the San Francisco area, we examine the interplay between consumption, style and taste cultures with issues of ethnic identity, gender and acculturation. We explore the ways that consumption and taste markers (e.g. fashion, cars, music and drugs) are used to establish or negotiate symbolic boundaries between groups in this youth culture. The picture they paint of the dance scene is one less about cohesiveness and unity and more about divisions and boundaries, not only between but also significantly within ethnic groupings. The choice of drugs and ways of exhibiting intoxication are among the types of consumption that the young people drew upon to mark symbolic boundaries and establish identities. The young men and women in this study discuss a number of key boundaries in the scene, e.g. between FOBs and twinkies, between pretty boys and thugs, as they attempt to establish the cultural legitimacy of their own styles of Asian American identities.
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