‘Just choose the easy option’: Students talk about alcohol use and social influence

Hepworth, Julie, McVittie, Chris, Schofield, Toni, Lindsay, Jo, Leontini, Rose, & Germov, John (2016) ‘Just choose the easy option’: Students talk about alcohol use and social influence. Journal of Youth Studies, 19(2), pp. 251-268.

View at publisher


Previous research into young people’s drinking behaviour has studied how social practices influence their actions and how they negotiate drinking-related identities. Here, adopting the perspective of discursive psychology we examine how, for young people, social influences are bound up with issues of drinking and of identity. We conducted 19 focus groups with undergraduate students in Australia aged between 18 and 24 years. Thematic analysis of participants’ accounts for why they drink or do not drink was used to identify passages of talk that referred to social influence, paying particular attention to terms such as ‘pressure’ and ‘choice’. These passages were then analysed in fine-grained detail, using discourse analysis, to study how participants accounted for social influence. Participants treated their behaviour as accountable and produced three forms of account that: (1) minimised the choice available to them, (2) explained drinking as culture and (3) described resisting peer pressure. They also negotiated gendered social dynamics related to drinking. These forms of account allowed the participants to avoid individual responsibility for drinking or not drinking. These findings demonstrate that the effects of social influence on young people’s drinking behaviour cannot be assumed, as social influence itself becomes negotiable within local contexts of talk about drinking.

Impact and interest:

3 citations in Scopus
2 citations in Web of Science®
Search Google Scholar™

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

ID Code: 86714
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: alcohol consumption; social influence; pressure; university students; qualitative research; discourse analysis
DOI: 10.1080/13676261.2015.1059928
ISSN: 1469-9680
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Public Health & Social Work
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 Taylor & Francis
Deposited On: 20 Aug 2015 03:20
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2016 06:38

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page