Pleasure, agency, space and place: an ethnography of youth drinking cultures in a South West London community

Barnett, L. (2017) Pleasure, agency, space and place: an ethnography of youth drinking cultures in a South West London community. Ph.D. thesis, Canterbury Christ Church University.

Barnett (Doherty).pdf - Accepted Version

Download (3MB) | Preview
PDF (Access Form)
Access form.pdf - Supplemental Material

Download (182kB) | Preview


Media, government and public discourse in the UK associate young drinkers as mindless, hedonistic consumers of alcohol, resulting in young people epitomising ‘Binge Britain’. This preoccupation with ‘binge’ drinking amplifies moral panics surrounding youth alcohol consumption whereby consideration of the social and cultural nuances of pleasure that give meaning to young people’s excessive drinking practices and values has been given little priority.

This sociological study explores how young drinkers regulate their drinking practices through levels of agency which is informed by values linked to the pursuit of pleasurable intoxication alongside friendship groups in a variety of drinking settings. Data informing this study comes from contextualised ethnographic fieldwork alongside heterogeneous groups of young people and community members in an area of South West London.

Whilst encountering hundreds of participants in fieldwork, data informing this research stems from ninety main protagonists. Following a qualitative grounded theoretical approach, the study prioritises the voice and everyday experience of young drinkers and local community members to present theoretical descriptions of youth drinking cultures embedded in a historical, social, cultural and spatial context.

Through the ethnographic data, this thesis argues that young drinkers show levels of agency in their pursuit of pleasurable drinking experiences through conscious forms of self-governance and regulation which are informed by learned experiences and interactions such as gender. Moreover, youth drinking is both enabled and restricted by constraints and complexities such as space and place; which form central points of analysis in this thesis.

It is concluded that accounts derived directly from young people are not only central to understanding how and why young people engage in forms of excessive drinking, but can better inform national and local alcohol-related policies and strategies, as opposed to discourse preoccupied with UK ‘binge’ drinking that young people rarely identify with.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure
H Social Sciences
Divisions: Faculty of Health and Wellbeing > School of Nursing
Depositing User: Miss Rosemary Cox
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2018 15:09
Last Modified: 03 Jun 2018 13:25

Actions (login required)

Update Item (CReaTE staff only) Update Item (CReaTE staff only)


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics


Connect with us

Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00