Young adults and ‘binge’ drinking: A Bakhtinian analysis

Chris Hackley, Andrew Bengry-Howell, Christine Griffin , Wilm Mistral, Isabelle Szmigin, Rungpaka Amy Hackley née Tiwsakul

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In this paper we use Bakhtin’s theory of carnival in a literary analysis of young peoples’ accounts of the role of alcohol in their social lives. Bakhtinian themes in the focus group transcripts included the dialogic character of drinking stories, the focus on parodic grotesquery, ribald and satiric laughter, and the temporary subversion and reversal of social norms and roles in a world turned ‘inside out’. We suggest that our analysis of the UK’s drinking ‘culture’ hints at a previously untheorised complexity and force, and points to a deep contradiction between young peoples’ lived experience of alcohol and government policy discourses based on appeals to individual moral responsibility. We conclude that the carnivalesque resonance of drinking is such that the UK’s alcohol problem will continue to worsen until the availability and cultural presence of alcohol is subject to stricter controls.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)933-949
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Marketing Management
Issue number7-8
Early online date15 Nov 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • alcohol policy; young adults; Bakhtin

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