Alcohol and performing community

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: Drama


Public and media concern over excessive episodic public drinking among young people, dubbed binge drinking, has increased since the 2000s (Nicholls 2009; Berridge, Herring, Thom 2009).

In response to growing evidence of alcohol harms, the World Health Organisation and EC 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 that 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 theatre performance
over the last forty years. Qualitative analysis of these representations was undertaken to reveal the cultural narratives around group excessive episodic drinking.

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


10 25 50
publication icon
Milling, J; Lyndon Owen, J; Maheswaran, R; Schaefer, K. (2014) Addiction and Performance

Description Key findings of the project were that cultural representations of group heavy episodic drinking on film and stage in Britain 1970-2010 were remarkably enduring. While medical and public health debates have grown increasingly concerned about binge drinking, film and stage illustration of group episodic excessive drinking as producing carnivalesque and emotionally heightened behaviour offering audiences thrilling performance experiences. While traditional public health interventions in education settings have not proved a strong dissuasive to group heavy drinking, small-scale filmic and performance interventions from companies such as Women and Theatre, PaperBirds, or charities such as Trelya, have been more successful in challenging normative cultural narratives.
Exploitation Route In developing a more nuanced relationship to the representation of group drinking in contemporary advisory literature.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Education,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism

Description The symposium day, University of Exeter 15 May 2012, connected alcohol researchers including Charles Abraham, from the Exeter Medical School with charity and performance groups, leading to further potential research investigations of the use of innovative performance interventions in other settings.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Healthcare
Impact Types Cultural