Rites of passage: smoking and the construction of social identity

Drug Alcohol Rev. 1993;12(4):377-85. doi: 10.1080/09595239300185471.


The following article, based on a qualitative study of young women from a Melbourne suburb, is concerned with the role smoking plays in the presentation of social identity. These women, in their early teens, are viewed as being in the liminal or transitional phase of a rite of passage to adulthood. The passage to adulthood is attained with the construction of a social identity corresponding to popular notions of the feminine, which fall into the familiar categories of the bad and good woman. Smoking is one of the props in the stereotypical representation of the bad woman. Conventional anti-smoking health messages have little relevance for young women who have chosen such a social identity for themselves.