chapter  6
20 Pages

Generations

In most contemporary societies in the global north there is growing concern about rising levels of alcohol consumption, particularly by young people, even in countries, such as France and Italy, which have previously been assumed to have ‘sensible’ drinking cultures (Wright 1999; Järvinen and Room 2007). However, while alcohol research has focused on issues such as the transmission of parents alcohol related behaviour to their children’s drinking patterns (Yu 2004; Lieb 2002; Conway et al. 2003), and considered the influence of family life on young people’s attitudes towards drinking (Lowe et al. 1993; Shucksmith et al. 1997; Tlusty 2004; Marquis 2004; Bogenschneider et al. 1998) research agendas to date have failed to look at generational influences relating to alcohol, drinking and drunkenness beyond the parent/child relationship. Indeed, recent popular and policy debates about UK drinking cultures – particularly the emergence of binge drinking by young people in Southern Europe have hinted at a shift in generational attitudes towards alcohol, as well as patterns of consumption. Previous intergenerational studies of work and care have found that in particular historical periods different normativities develop, reflecting both social and economic conditions (Brannen et al. 2004). Given post-war shifts in the nature and type of alcohol products on the market, price, availability (i.e. growth in off-trade sales) and the more recent liberalization of licensing laws in the UK it is reasonable to anticipate that different cohorts may have developed different normativities in relation to drinking. In this chapter we discuss the evidence as to whether these assumptions in relation to alcohol are proven, and if so how patterns of drinking have changed, and what may have been the drivers for any social transformations in attitudes and practices between different generations.