Hitting the Wall: Youth Perspectives on Boredom, Trouble, and Drug Use Dynamics in Rural New Mexico

Cathleen E. Willging, Gilbert A. Quintero, Elizabeth A. Lilliott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We examine the experience of boredom and its relationship to troublemaking and drug use among rural youth in southwestern New Mexico. We draw on qualitative research with area youth to describe what they think about drug use and how they situate it within their social circumstances. We then locate youth drug use within globalized processes affecting this setting, including a local economic environment with limited educational and employment opportunities for youth. Drug use emerges as a common social practice that enables youth to ameliorate boredom, yet only some youth become known as troublemakers. Study findings offer insight into how dominant social institutions-schools and juvenile justice authorities-shape the construction of trouble from the perspectives of youth. We contend that boredom and troublemaking among rural youth are not simply age-appropriate forms of self-expression but instead represent manifestations of social position, political economic realities, and assessments of possible futures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-29
Number of pages27
JournalYouth and Society
Volume46
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2014

Keywords

  • adolescence
  • economics
  • substance use

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