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Journal cover: Drugs and Alcohol Today

Drugs and Alcohol Today

ISSN: 1745-9265

Online from: 2001

Subject Area: Health and Social Care

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From gatekeeper to friend and back again: embracing the world of the street drug user

Document Information:
Title:From gatekeeper to friend and back again: embracing the world of the street drug user
Author(s):Daniel Briggs, (Based at the School of Law and Social Sciences, University of East London, London, UK)
Citation:Daniel Briggs, (2012) "From gatekeeper to friend and back again: embracing the world of the street drug user", Drugs and Alcohol Today, Vol. 12 Iss: 2, pp.72 - 81
Keywords:Drug addiction, Emotions, Ethnic groups, Ethnography, Field relations, Gatekeeper, Social groups, Street drug users, United Kingdom
Article type:Viewpoint
DOI:10.1108/17459261211235092 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Acknowledgements:Thanks to Dr Jennifer Fleetwood for her input on this paper.

Purpose – Ethnographic research with street drug users is becoming increasingly difficult to undertake. In the main, it is perceived as “too risky” and frequently raises practical, ethical and emotional issues for ethnographers, however, this doesn't mean it is impossible. Indeed, one of the most challenging areas is the management of field relations – especially with gatekeepers. The main aim of this article is to provide an account of how gatekeeper field relations are developed and experienced in the context of researching street drug users.

Design/methodology/approach – The article is based on a reflexive account to comment upon the experience of the researcher engaged in ethnographic research.

Findings – The author examines how field relations are influenced by the specific social and structural contexts in which the project took place and makes critical reflections on how these relationships impacted on him – professionally, personally and emotionally.

Originality/value – The article is useful for academics or researchers who are looking to study similar social groups.

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