The role of alcohol in constructing gender & class identities among young women in the age of social media

Lennox, J., Emslie, C., Sweeting, H. and Lyons, A. (2018) The role of alcohol in constructing gender & class identities among young women in the age of social media. International Journal of Drug Policy, 58, pp. 13-21. (doi:10.1016/j.drugpo.2018.04.009) (PMID:29734048)

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Abstract

Research suggests young women view drinking as a pleasurable aspect of their social lives but that they face challenges in engaging in a traditionally ‘masculine’ behaviour whilst maintaining a desirable ‘femininity’. Social network sites such as Facebook make socialising visible to a wide audience. This paper explores how young people discuss young women’s drinking practices, and how young women construct their identities through alcohol consumption and its display on social media. We conducted 21 friendship-based focus groups (both mixed and single sex) with young adults aged 18–29 years and 13 individual interviews with a subset of focus group respondents centred on their Facebook practices. We recruited a purposive sample in Glasgow, Scotland (UK) which included ‘middle class’ (defined as students and those in professional jobs) and ‘working class’ respondents (employed in manual/service sector jobs), who participated in a range of venues in the night time economy. Young women’s discussions revealed a difficult ‘balancing act’ between demonstrating an ‘up for it’ sexy (but not too sexy) femininity through their drinking and appearance, while still retaining control and respectability. This ‘balancing act’ was particularly precarious for working class women, who appeared to be judged more harshly than middle class women both online and offline. While a gendered double standard around appearance and alcohol consumption is not new, a wider online audience can now observe and comment on how women look and behave. Social structures such as gender and social class remain central to the construction of identity both online and offline.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Emslie, Dr Carol and Lennox, Ms Jemma and Sweeting, Dr Helen
Authors: Lennox, J., Emslie, C., Sweeting, H., and Lyons, A.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO Unit
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Public Health
Journal Name:International Journal of Drug Policy
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0955-3959
ISSN (Online):0955-3959
Published Online:04 May 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 The Authors
First Published:First published in International Journal of Drug Policy 58:13-21
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
727641SPHSU Core Renewal: Setting and Health Improvement Research ProgrammeKathryn HuntMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/12IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU