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4- Drug Abuse & Self-Concepts: A Life Story Approach to Heroin-Addicted Musicians in Los Angeles - Melanie Ptatscheck, Leuphana University

1:30 PM, Saturday 25 May 2019 (2 hours)
Coffee break   03:30 PM to 04:00 PM (30 minutes)

Drug use and abuse are commonly associated with the lifestyle of many (contemporary) musicians and their acquaintances. Recent excesses of addicted musicians in particular have received considerable attention in the media. Although public spotlight of this issue has increased in recent years, drug use and abuse are only rarely considered in popular music studies. Given the importance of especially heroin in many artists’ biographies, this gap in the literature is rather surprising. The conspicuous absence of studies on heroin addiction in popular music studies might be due to the numerous methodological, legal, ethical, and personal challenges posed by the subject matter.

Proposing solutions to several of these challenges, this study provides new insights concerning drug use and abuse among musicians by examining the lives of heroin-addicted rock musicians in Los Angeles. Narrative-biographical interviews were conducted to (re)construct individual life stories with an emphasis on their self-concepts and concepts of reality.

In addition to presenting findings on this exemplary group of musicians and its embedding in socio-cultural contexts, this study discusses individual challenges related to the research process, especially emotional ones. By considering the challenges and potentials of narratives in qualitative research, this study also seeks from a new theoretical standpoint to contribute to a (methodological) (re)orientation of popular music studies.
Leuphana University of Lueneburg
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