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Young men's alcohol consumption experiences and performances of masculinity

Wilkinson, S and Wilkinson, C (2019) Young men's alcohol consumption experiences and performances of masculinity. International Journal of Drug Policy. ISSN 0955-3959

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Abstract

© 2019 Elsevier B.V. Background: By creating a dichotomy between those who are ‘out-of-control’ ‘binge drinkers’ and those for whom alcohol contributes to friendship fun, academic and alcohol policy literature often fail to acknowledge the nuances in the diverse drinking practices of men. Methods: This paper engages with findings from a multiple qualitative method research project (comprising of individual and friendship group interviews; diaries; and participant observation), conducted with 16 young men, aged 15–24: eight living in the middle-class area of Chorlton, and eight living in the working-class area of Wythenshawe, Manchester, United Kingdom. Results: This paper provides fine-grained insights into the doings, complexities and contradictions of masculinity in the context of drinking. Young men are shown to tap into different co-existing versions of masculinity, one of which is based on the exclusion of femininity (i.e. they act as tough guys), while another version is more inclusive (i.e. it allows for displays of care). Conclusion: This paper shows a much more complex image of young men's drinking practices than has hitherto been conceptualised in the existing literature, and brings to the fore doings of alternative masculinities. This has important implications for alcohol policy interventions targeting men, in that the complexities and contradictions of masculinity in relation to drinking must be taken seriously.

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