Drinking in the Dark: Shedding Light on Young People's Alcohol Consumption Experiences

Authors: Samantha Wilkinson*, Manchester Metropolitan University
Topics: Social Geography
Keywords: Young People, Alcohol, Qualitative Research, Darkness, Atmospheres
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 5:20 PM / 7:00 PM
Room: Balcony L, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper draws on 12 months of ethnographic research to explore the drinking practices and experiences of young people, aged 15–24, living in the suburban case study locations of Chorlton and Wythenshawe, Manchester, UK. This paper moves beyond the contemporary geographical imaginary of alcohol consumption as a city centre issue, to explore suburban indoor and outdoor drinking cultures. Through paying attention to atmospheres of darkness and lightness, I show how drinkscapes are active constituents of young people’s drinking occasions, rather than passive backdrops. More than this, I illustrate how young people transform dark and light drinkscapes, thereby shaping the drinking practices and experiences of themselves and others. Through looking at the interplay between the curating of an atmosphere, and the experience of that atmosphere when bodies, and practices, are inserted into it, this paper offers a different take on the ‘drinking at home is bad, drinking in public spaces is good’ argument, with original policy suggestions.

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