This study examines the connections between subculture theory, symbolic interaction and the work of David Matza with a special focus on exploring alcohol consumption by young adults in the UK. We apply Matza ideas of the “techniques of neutralization,” “subterranean values,” and “drift” within an ethnographic study on alcohol to suggest that young people's “calculated hedonism” can be understood as a strategy of agency in the context of a subcultural setting. This article adds to the literature of symbolic interaction, subculture and the discipline of sociology by critically focusing on the work of David Matza from its reception in the 1960s to today as a central element of the new paradigm of cultural criminology. For us the sociological imagination is “alive and well” through Matza's advocacy of naturalism whereby he sought to integrate the work Chicago School under Park and Burgess with his assessment of the so-called Neo-Chicago School. In the literature Matza's work is often defined as symbolic interactionist we see his ambition in a wider sense of wanting sociology to recover human struggle and the active creation of meaning. Our approach is to understand the calculated hedonism of young adult use of alcohol through their humanity.
We would like to offer special thanks to the academics who responded to us, Laurie Taylor, David Downes, Paul Rock, Howard Becker, Patrick Williams, Eamonn Carrabine, Keith Hayward, Joe Weis, Thomas Blomberg, Phil Cohen and the editors of this special edition.
Blackman, S. and McPherson, R. (2022), "David Matza from Naturalism to Cultural Criminology: Exploring Subculture and Alcohol in an Ethnographic Study of Young Adults in the UK", Conner, C.T. (Ed.) Subcultures (Studies in Symbolic Interaction, Vol. 54), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 91-111. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0163-239620220000054006
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