Connected Communities: Alcohol and Performing Community

Jane Milling (Drama, University of Exeter)
Jonathan Owen (Film, University of St Andrews)
Ravi Mahewsaran (Public Health, University of Sheffield)
Kerrie Schaefer (Drama, University of Exeter)

Public and media concern over risky sessional public drinking among young people, dubbed binge drinking, has been regularly expressed since the 2000s (Nicholls 2009; Berridge, Herring, Thom 2009). World Health Organisation and European Commission 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 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 live theatre performance over the last forty years. Qualitative analysis of these representations was undertaken to reveal the cultural narratives around episodic excessive drinking.

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