Home > “I wouldn’t be friends with someone if they were liking too much rubbish”: a qualitative study of alcohol brands, youth identity and social media.

Purves, Richard I and Stead, Martine and Eadie, Douglas . (2018) “I wouldn’t be friends with someone if they were liking too much rubbish”: a qualitative study of alcohol brands, youth identity and social media. MDPI. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15 (2) 349. 10.3390/ijerph15020349

URL: http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/15/2/349

The consumption of alcohol by young people remains a major public health concern at both the national and international level. Levels of drinking among 15-year-olds in the United Kingdom (UK) remain significantly higher than the European average. This study explored how alcohol brands are used by young people to develop their desired identities and how these acts of consumption extend to young people’s profiles on social media. It also deepens understanding of how alcohol brands are connected to young peoples’ concerns about image and peer group dynamics. This involved qualitative focus groups with young people aged 14–17 in Central Scotland. Certain alcohol brands were approved and viewed as socially acceptable by young people, while others were rejected.

Children as young as 14 were selecting products to portray a drinking identity that was appropriately aligned to their gender and sexuality. Participants displayed a desire to associate themselves with the mature drinking culture personified by some brands, whilst simultaneously distancing themselves from immature drinking practices associated with others. Publicly associating with alcohol brands on social media carried with it potential risks to peer group acceptance. Understanding how young people perceive alcohol brands, the importance of social media in communicating that identity to their peers and the role that alcohol brands play in adolescent identity formation is an important first step to reforming alcohol marketing regulations.


Item Type:Evidence resource
Drug Type:Alcohol
Intervention Type:AOD disorder, AOD prevention, AOD disorder harm reduction
Date:February 2018
Pages:349
Publisher:MDPI
Volume:15
Number:2
EndNote:View
Subjects:A Substance use, abuse, and dependence > Prevalence > Substance use behaviour > Alcohol consumption
B Substances > Alcohol
F Concepts in psychology > Attitude and behaviour > Attitude toward substance use
F Concepts in psychology > Attitude and behaviour > Attitude toward substance use > Attitude toward substance user
L Social psychology and related concepts > Interpersonal interaction and group dynamics > Peer relations > Level of drugs and alcohol use among peers
MP-MR Policy, planning, economics, work and social services > Marketing and public relations (advertising)
N Communication, information and education > Communication > Communication / social media
N Communication, information and education > Information use and impact
N Communication, information and education > Information technology / Digital
T Demographic characteristics > Adolescent / youth (teenager / young person)
VA Geographic area > Europe > United Kingdom

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