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Alcogenesis: the normalisation of 'non-problematic' drinking in working adults.

SEDGEWORTH, CAITLIN,IRENE (2019) Alcogenesis: the normalisation of 'non-problematic' drinking in working adults. Masters thesis, Durham University.

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Alcohol is one of the leading preventable causes of death and disease in the UK. Most alcohol research tends to focus on underage, student, and binge drinking, or alcohol use disorder. Despite recent statistics showing a shift to older, rather than younger, people drinking problematically, and reduced underage drinking, limited research has examined the ‘missing middle’: working adults.
This research applied theories of deviance (Foucault), normalisation (Parker) and the socio-ecological model to understand the alcohol-related beliefs, habits and motives of working adults. Newcastle was selected as a case study due to its recent development, growing working population, cultural history, alcogenic environment, and reputation as a leisure city.
113 participants completed a cross-sectional online questionnaire of validated tools assessing demographics and drinking habits, general health, beliefs and motives. Only 25 % were aware of the weekly guidelines and half exceeded them. Social and enhancement motives for drinking were most strongly endorsed. Findings were notably consistent across different demographic groups, with the exception of age. Age predicted increased drinking frequency, a perception that their drinking was more responsible than others, reduced association with motives, and reduced support for government intervention. There was some evidence that higher earners also drank more often (although not significant), and salary alongside high drinking frequency also shared similar anti-interventionist beliefs and views of drinking ‘more responsibly’.
The findings suggest that both drinking and excessive (i.e., over-guideline) drinking is normalised amongst working adults, with some support for Parker’s theory. Excessive drinking and binging is not recognised as such, and previous ‘taboos’ (e.g. drinking alone) appear to be weakening. Current (e.g., unit-based guidelines, anti-binge campaigns) and planned (e.g., minimum unit pricing) interventions are not seen as effective or likely to have an impact. More research and public health action is needed to reduce potential future harm in this group.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Keywords:Alcohol, normalisation, excessive drinking, working adults, non-problematic, public health.
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Sociology, Department of
Thesis Date:2019
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:20 Apr 2020 10:54

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