Page last updated: June 2010
Getting drunk key to bonding for young people

For many young people getting drunk is key to being accepted as part of a social group.
Professor Christine Griffin (University of Bath) discussed young people’s attitudes to alcohol in her
presentation ‘The allure of belonging: Young people’s drinking practices and collective identification’ at the British psychological Society’s Social Section annual conference at the University of Winchester, Thursday 9 September.
Professor Griffin explained: “Extreme inebriation is often seen as a source of personal esteem and social affirmation amongst young people. Our detailed research interviews reveal that tales of alcoholrelated mishaps and escapades are key markers of young peoples’ social identity.”
In 2007 Professor Griffin led research for the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) which suggested a radical re-thinking of national alcohol policy was required to take into account the social character of alcohol consumption and the identity implications for young people.
In this presentation Professor Griffin reported on the findings from the ESRC-funded study of drinking advertisements and intensive research with young drinkers in a major metropolitan area and in two towns in semi-rural locations. This formed part of the 2008 ESRC Research programme on ‘Identities and Social Action’.
Professor Griffin explained: “In this presentation I argue that the ‘culture of intoxication’ has become a normalised and all but compulsory aspect of many young people’s social lives. Getting very drunk with friends often insulates young people from viewing their level of alcohol consumption as a potential problem, deepening bonds of friendship and cementing group membership... Campaigns that aim to change young people’s drinking habits need to take the social importance of drinking into account, as well as the pervasive availability of ‘cheap deals’ on alcohol.”
Source: British Psychological Society (BPS), AlphaGalileo Foundation.

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