Managing alcohol use amongst young drinkers: understanding the impact of cultural practices on drinking patterns and practices

Barton, Adrian (2017) Managing alcohol use amongst young drinkers: understanding the impact of cultural practices on drinking patterns and practices. In: Fourth Contemporary Drug Problems Conference – Making alcohol and other drug realities; 23-25 August 2017; Helsinki, Finland, 22-25 August 2017, Helsinki, Finland. (Submitted)

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The British relationship with alcohol has always been difficult: witness the succession of moral panics and legislation about alcohol consumption; The Alehouse Act 1552; The succession of Gin Acts and moral panic around gin drinking in Georgian London; the emergence of the Temperance movement in 1820; and the more recent concerns over ‘binge-drinking’ and ‘pre-loading’ to name but a few. At the heart of all these pieces of legislation has been the difficult question of how to control the consumption of a substance which is legal, pleasurable, socially sanctioned and relatively cheap. But what is meant by ‘control’ needs clarification as ‘control’ implies much and in the case of alcohol actually delivers very little: formal state ‘alcohol control’ is relatively good at controlling access but relatively powerless in the control of levels of consumption, as consumption tends to take place in private or semi-private spaces. Added to this, the commercial interests involved in the selling of alcohol have a conflicted interest in control, wishing to maximise sales whilst wishing to be seen to adhere to the will of the state. To that end, both the state and commercial interests have focussed on applying legislation around controlling access rather than attempting to control consumption meaning the control of alcohol consumption is often left in the hands of the consumer. Thus, control of access to alcohol is formal and regulated; control of consumption is informal and cultural. These different forms of control work well in isolation but often come into conflict when they meet: when those who have over-consumed seek access to more alcohol in semi-private spaces such as pubs or clubs or who use public spaces in an inappropriate manner. Using data from three studies which looked at the drinking habits of young people, this paper explores those areas of tensions between and across formal and informal control of alcohol use.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Alcohol Young people Policy Culture
Subjects: L Social studies > L310 Applied sociology
L Social studies > L400 Social policy
L Social studies > L430 Public policy
Departments: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Applied Social Sciences
Depositing User: Adrian Barton
Date Deposited: 22 May 2017 08:27
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2017 10:12

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