‘Easy money, zero risk’: the role of British seasonal workers in the Ibiza drug market

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter draws on ethnographic fieldwork with British seasonal workers involved in drug dealing on the infamous Spanish, party island of Ibiza. In an innovative application of Disneyization framework, it is argued that seasonal workers are engaged in a deep form of performative labour. As mediators of Ibiza’s hedonistic atmosphere, this social group is revealed to be deeply immersed in the island’s renowned drug market. Ethnographic fieldwork was undertaken over three summers in tourist locations across Ibiza, including nightclubs, bars and cafes, beaches, airports, and hotels. Field notes from participant observation were supplemented with data from semi-structured interviews (n=56). Many British seasonal workers in Ibiza are rapidly immersed in the drug market associated with the island’s hedonistic nightlife. Participants in this research described high levels of drug use, and unlike tourists, this was drawn out over several months. As a result of the insecure nature of employment in the legal economy, many participants relied on income from drug dealing. In a context where drug use is woven into the consumer space, the multiple risks associated with the drug trade seemed to be minimised. The chapter demonstrates that ethnographic immersion within party spaces is essential if researchers are to generate theoretical insight into the complex intersections between drug use, dealing and spatial context.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnderstanding Drug Dealing and Illicit Drug Markets
Subtitle of host publicationNational and International perspectives
EditorsTammy C. Ayres , Craig Ancrum
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781351010245
ISBN (Print)9781138541801, 9781138541825
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2023


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