'Binge' drinking, British alcohol policy and the new culture of intoxication

Fiona Measham, Kevin Brain

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    436 Citations (Scopus)


    Against the backdrop of a long-standing British 'binge and brawl' pattern of alcohol- based weekend leisure and concomitant recurrent anxieties in the media surrounding youth and young adults at play, this article considers the cultural distinctions of contemporary British leisure and the evidence for a 'new' culture of intoxication. Four key changes are identified which together, the authors argue, suggest significant change is underway in respect of patterns of alcohol consumption in the UK. Presenting empirical data for the first time, the article considers how one might assess the evidence for a new culture of intoxication which embraces both legal and illicit drugs and which encompasses a broad social spectrum of young people. The study concludes that the pursuit of altered states of intoxication must be positioned in late modern society as behaviour which is a vehicle for consumer and criminal justice discourses, both encouraged by economic deregulation and constrained by legislative change, indicative of the ambiguities at the heart of British alcohol policy.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)262-283
    Number of pages22
    JournalCrime, Media, Culture
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


    • Alcohol
    • Binge drinking
    • Bounded consumption
    • Intoxication
    • UK
    • Young people


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