Developing a social practice-based typology of British drinking culture in 2009-2011: Implications for alcohol policy analysis



Ally AK, Lovatt M, Meier P, Brennan A & Holmes J (2016) Developing a social practice-based typology of British drinking culture in 2009-2011: Implications for alcohol policy analysis. Addiction, 111 (9), pp. 1568-1579.

Background and aims: The concept of national drinking culture is well-established in research and policy debate but rarely features in contemporary alcohol policy analysis. We aim to apply the alternative concept of social practices to quantitatively operationalise drinking culture. We discuss how a practice perspective addresses limitations in existing analytical approaches to health-related behaviour before demonstrating its empirical application by constructing a statistical typology of British drinking practices and examining sociodemographic variation in practice.  Design: Cross-sectional latent class analysis of drinking occasions derived from one-week drinking diaries collected for market research. Occasions are periods of drinking with no more than two hours between drinks.  Setting: Great Britain, 2009-2011.  Cases: 187,878 occasions nested within 60,215 nationally-representative adults (18+).  Measurements: Beverage type and quantity per occasion. Location, company and gender composition of company. Motivation and reason for occasion. Day, start-time and duration of occasion. Age, sex and social grade.  Findings: Eight drinking practices are derived. Three of the four most common practices are low risk, brief, relaxed, home-drinking (46.0\% of occasions). The most high risk practices had diverse characteristics and were observed across all sociodemographic groups. Two often-high risk practices identified are rarely acknowledged in policy debate: lengthy weekend domestic gatherings of friends and/or family (14.4\% of occasions) and lengthy, typically weekend occasions encompassing both on-trade and off-trade locations (10.4\% of occasions).  Conclusions: A practice-based perspective offers potential for a step-change in alcohol policy analysis by enabling evaluation of how much and why drinking cultures change in response to public health interventions.

Drinking culture; drinking occasion; latent class analysis; practice; policy analysis; typology

Addiction: Volume 111, Issue 9

Publication date30/09/2016
Publication date online15/06/2016
Date accepted by journal17/03/2016

People (2)


Dr Melanie Lovatt

Dr Melanie Lovatt

Senior Lecturer, Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology

Professor Petra Meier

Professor Petra Meier

Honorary Professor, Institute for Social Marketing