Alcohol and Performing Community: Mapping representations of binge drinking and community health


Principal Investigator: Dr Jane Milling
Co-investigators: Kerrie Schaefer, University of Exeter; Ravi Maheswaran, University of Sheffield
Duration: 2011

Public and media concern over excessive episodic public drinking among young people, dubbed binge drinking, has increased since the 2000s (Nicholls 2009; Berridge, Herring, Thom 2009).

In response to growing evidence of alcohol harms, the World Health Organisation and EC urged the construction of national action plans
’emphasizing actions that regulate alcohol price, availability and marketing’, to which the government’s recent Alcohol Strategy responds (WHO 2010; The Government’s Alcohol Strategy 2012). Yet, some commentators warn that ‘social engineering techniques which attempt to modify well-established cultural drinking practices can have counterproductive results,’ and that the outcomes of such policies are uncertain (Peele 1997). This project set out to analyse the cultural representation of group binge drinking by young adults (18 to 35 years old) in British film and theatre performance
over the last forty years. Qualitative analysis of these representations was undertaken to reveal the cultural narratives around group excessive episodic drinking.

The project held two consultations around the qualitative findings: a symposium on representations of binge drinking and performance interventions (15 May 2012), and a consultation with the Interdisciplinary Alcohol Research Programme at the University of Sheffield (24 May 2012). A series of key concerns and issues for further research emerged.