Drinking Dilemmas: Space, culture and identity, 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Drinking Dilemmas

Space, culture and identity, 1st Edition

Edited by Thomas Thurnell-Read


220 pages | 12 B/W Illus.

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Drinking and drunkenness have become a focal point for political and media debates to contest notions of responsibility, discipline and risk; yet, at the same time, academic studies have highlighted the positive aspects of drinking in relation to sociability, belonging and identity. These issues are at the heart of this volume, which brings together the work of academics and researchers exploring social and cultural aspects of contemporary drinking practices. These drinking practices are enormously varied and are spatially and culturally defined. The contributions to the volume draw on research settings from across the UK and beyond to demonstrate both the complexity and diversity of drinking subjectivities and practices. Across these examples tensions relating to gender, social class, age and the life course are particularly prominent. Rather than align to now long-established moral discourses about what constitutes ‘good’ and ‘bad’ drinking,  sociological approaches to alcohol foreground the vivid, lived, nature of alcohol consumption and the associated experiences of drunkenness and intoxication. In doing so, the volume illuminates the controversial yet important social and cultural roles played by drink for individuals and groups across a range of social contexts.


"Drinking Dilemmas" is an important and timely collection of papers on the study of alcohol, drinking and drunkenness. Thurnell-Read has brought together a range of distinguished authors to explore how drinking practices and individual identities are both spatially and culturally defined. This book will prove to be a useful resource for both scholars and students at all levels who wish to understand the multiple ways in which individual identities, alcohol consumption, drinking practices and intoxicated behaviors are interwoven.

Geoffrey Hunt, Professor, Centre for Alcohol and Drug Research, Aarhus University, Denmark

This timely collection of recent research on the role of alcohol in cultural life makes an important contribution to contemporary debates about the ‘demon drink’. Contributors challenge the overwhelmingly negative connotations of much public health and policy discourse, examining the diverse symbolic meanings of drinking in a range of social, political and economic contexts. The book has a distinctive focus on place and space, crossing academic disciplines from sociology and geography to criminology, and crossing the globe from the Bigg Market in Newcastle to Mar Mikhael in Beirut, via France, South Africa and the extreme metal music scene in Leeds, UK.

Professor Christine Griffin, University of Bath, UK

This book is, in my opinion, an excellent, informative, attractive and relevant read for all working in the substance misuse field. There is a lot of information, facts and figures and current thinking about emerging trends and alcohol-related social genres that I found very helpful and interesting.

John Sims, Bangor University, UK, British Sociological Association, Issue 130, Autumn 2018

Table of Contents

1. Introduction. Drinking Dilemmas?: Space, culture and identity, Thomas Thurnell-Read 2. Revisiting Urban Nightscapes: An Academic and personal journey through twenty years of nightlife research, Robert Hollands 3. The Symbolic Value of Alcohol: The importance of alcohol consumption, drinking practices and drinking spaces in classed and gendered identity construction, Kimberley Ross-Houle, Amanda Atkinson and Harry Sumnall 4. Beer and Belonging: Real ale consumption, place and identity , Thomas Thurnell-Read 5. Illegal Drinking Venues in a South African Township: Sites of struggle in the informal city, Andrew Charman 6. ‘Eat, Drink and Be Merry for Tomorrow We Die’: Alcohol practices in Mar Mikhael, Beirut, Marie Bonte 7. ‘A Force to be Reckoned With’: The Role and Influence of Alcohol in Leeds’ Extreme Metal Scene, Gabby Riches 8. ‘Never, Ever Go Down the Bigg Market’: Classed and spatialised processes of othering on the ‘girls’ night out’, Emily Nicholls 9. Young People’s Alcohol-Related Urban Im/mobilities, Samantha Wilkinson 10. Parenting Style and Gender Effects on Alcohol Consumptions among University Students in France, Ludovic Gaussot, Loïc Le Minor and Nicolas Palierne 11. Growing up, Going out: Cultural and aesthetic attachment to the night time economy, Oliver Smith 12. ‘There Are Limits on What You Can Do’: Biographical reconstruction by those bereaved by alcohol-related deaths, Christine Valentine, Lorna Templeton and Richard Velleman 13. Drinking Dilemmas: Making a difference?, Mark Jayne and Gill Valentine

About the Editor

Thomas Thurnell-Read is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology in the School of Humanities at Coventry University. Through his research and teaching, he uses contemporary leisure and consumption practices, particularly those relating to drinking and drunkenness, to explore a range of sociological issues relating to sociality, identity and diversity. His research on British stag party tourism in Poland has been published in a range of international journals and focuses on the social construction of masculinity through transgressive drinking practices. He is the editor (with Dr Mark Casey, Newcastle University) of Men, Masculinities, Travel and Tourism (2014, Palgrave Macmillan). He is a founder member of the BSA Alcohol Study Group and has been Co-Convenor of the group since July 2012.

About the Series

Sociological Futures

Sociological Futures aims to be a flagship for new and innovative theories, methods and approaches to sociological issues and debates and ‘the social’ in the 21st century. This series of monographs and edited collections was inspired by vibrant wealth of BSA symposia on a wide variety of sociological themes. Edited by a team of experienced sociological researchers, and supported by the BSA, it covers a wide range of topics related to sociology and sociological research and will feature contemporary work that is theoretically and methodologically innovative, has local or global reach, as well as work that engages or reengages with classic debates in sociology bringing new perspectives to important and relevant topics.

The BSA is the professional association for sociologists and sociological research in the United Kingdom, with its extensive network of members, study groups and forums, and its dynamic programme of events. The Association engages with topics ranging from auto/biography to youth, climate change to violence against women, alcohol to sport, and Bourdieu to Weber. This book series represents the fruits of sociological enquiry, reaching a global audience, and offering a publication outlet for sociologists at all career and publishing stages, from the well-established to emerging sociologists, BSA or non-BSA members, from all parts of the world.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General