Working at Pleasure in Young Women's Alcohol Consumption: A Participatory Visual Ethnography

Angus Bancroft, Mariah Jade Zimpfer, Orla Murray, Martina Karels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper reports on a participatory ethnography conducted with undergraduate students. It examined the rituals and habits through which they constructed their intoxication culture. Students used video recording devices such as smartphones to collect data about aspects of their intoxication experiences. They were then interviewed about emerging analytical themes. In this paper we focus on one aspect of intoxication culture, the place of pleasure in women's accounts. We build on previous research that showed that pleasure was present but not always dominant in women's accounts of leisure focused drinking. They experienced the predominant, neo-liberal concept of pleasure as a demand which had to be navigated alongside their own desires which could include a preference for a more situated, intimate, sociability. Pre-drinking occasions were especially significant as places where bonds could be built up and body and self prepared to enter the public night-time economy. For many, this preparation became the main, enjoyable event in contrast to sometimes fraught and demanding public drinking spaces, where women could find themselves subject to various critical judgements about their femininity. Their activities on these occasions focused on achieving a 'good drunk', a manageable state of group intoxication. We use these findings to comment critically on the gendering of the night-time economy, the narrow framing of 'pleasure' in it, and the commodification of student experience in the UK.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20
JournalSociological Research Online
Volume19
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2014

Keywords

  • Alcohol
  • Pleasure
  • Gender
  • Women
  • Students

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