Conclusion: the drink question today

James Nicholls

in The Politics of Alcohol

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print October 2009 | ISBN: 9780719077050
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781702758 | DOI:
Conclusion: the drink question today

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Three constant issues have tended to underpin the drink question in Britain in all its various forms: social order, health, and economic responsibility. These are inflected by broader social frameworks, not least changing ideas about class, gender, and national identity. The period from the mid-1970s to the establishment of the Alcohol Health Alliance is the first time that a population approach has been established in which the definition of moderate drinking has been given quantifiable parameters. When looking critically at news coverage of binge drinking, it is tempting to see it as a species of moral panic. A number of recent studies have argued that the issues of binge drinking, a deregulated retail market, and the wider culture of alcohol consumption are ‘more than simply a reinvention of the long-standing “problem” of British drunkenness’. Perhaps the most fundamental contradiction that the drink question has exposed is that between the competing conceptions of freedom. The question is whether or not intoxication itself can be understood an expression of freedom.

Keywords: drink question; Britain; social order; health; economic responsibility; binge drinking; moral panic; alcohol consumption; intoxication; freedom

Chapter.  5586 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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