Keith Bletzer V
Researchers have long been interested in male “assemblages” that gather in urban areas, and to a much lesser extent, in farming communities. Researchers in farming areas posit a propensity for alcohol consumption among unmarried men and gathering for instrumental purposes as reasons that groups “assemble.” The present analysis extends these rare investigations by analyzing aggregations of farm workers enrolled in a university drug study in a farming community of the southeastern United States. Findings included: non-users were more numerous in clusters than participant-users enrolled in the formal drug/alcohol study; more frequent contacts took place on days following a weekend, when men sought information on work (availability, pay rates, etc.); more than three participant-users were rarely observed hanging-out together. Clusters varied between “anchor” (extended longevity on any given day) and “cycled” (members come-and-go). Most clusters were small: the mean number of persons per cluster was 3.65 with fewer users (mean 1.50) than non-users (mean 2.15). Extending these field data (supported by conversational observations) to distinguish contacts as ‘weak ties’ and ‘strong ties’ revealed greater frequency of ‘weak ties’ showing that male farm workers generally were engaged in non-drug interactions to secure information on work and/or housing.