‘A Proper Night Out' : Alcohol and risk among young people in deprived areas in North West England

Hennell, Kath and Limmer, Mark and Piacentini, Maria (2017) ‘A Proper Night Out' : Alcohol and risk among young people in deprived areas in North West England. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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Young people’s very visible and public performances of drunkenness have become a matter of popular and political concern. English alcohol policy, frames this type of harmful alcohol consumption as a problem of individual behaviour, which is underpinned by conceptualisations of risk and rationality. Thus positioning the individual as a rational, risk adverse, decision maker. Consequently, interventions focus on risk factors and individual harm reduction models, despite there being little evidence to suggest that these type of interventions are effective. This thesis moves away from this focus by using a social practice theoretical framework, to explore the contemporary drinking practices of young people from socio-economically deprived areas and to reconceptualise risk in relation to these practices. This study draws on data from three mixed gender friendship groups of twenty-three young people from deprived communities in the North West of England during a 14-month period. This study focuses on the alcohol consumption of young people from deprived communities in northern England because they are the group whose drinking has frequently been the most problematised in English alcohol policy. In addition, people living in disadvantaged communities have been shown to suffer from more alcohol attributable harms than those living in more affluent communities. During the study period, data was collected from three to four in-depth group interviews with each group and from the social media content of each young person. The study draws on the theoretical frame of the three element model of social practice together with ‘doing gender’ and conceptualisations of Bourdieu’s capital, to undertake an empirical enquiry of alcohol consumption, that explores the unequal and varying performance(s) of the practice. This study illustrates how a specific material arrangement of alcohol, the corporeal, spaces, finance and mobile phones; combines and interconnects with social and symbolic meanings of social recognition, sociability, caring and group belonging and with competences relating to the consumption of alcohol and staying safe. By doing so, a recognizable practice-as-entity is identified, which is framed as a proper night out. The study re-conceptualises risk as routine, ordinary and normalised within young people’s intoxicated drinking practices. Thus, risk is viewed as being complex, multi-layered and fluid and knowledge about moderating and navigating hazards and uncertainties is part of the (un)conscious, embodied know-how of the practice.

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Thesis (PhD)
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11 Jul 2017 14:02
Last Modified:
16 Jul 2024 05:39