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Class, youth and drink : Historical analysis of policy and contemporary ethnography of youth

Dorn, Nicholas John (1982) Class, youth and drink : Historical analysis of policy and contemporary ethnography of youth. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94314) (KAR id:94314)


This study (i) makes an historical analysis of the current mapping together of moral panics about youthful drinking and working class indiscipline, (ii) reports an empirical study of contemporary drinking practices amongst inner city boys and girls and, (iii) discusses implications for health education. Contemporary conceptions of youthful drinking as a form of working class indiscipline arose out of the historical development of state concerns about vagrancy, labour indiscipline and political unrest.

Chapters 1-3 outline this history from the fourteenth to nineteenth centuries, relate restrictive legislation to the interests of the alcohol industry, and describe the development of health education about alcohol. Part II of the study then offers evidence suggesting that contemporary drinking practices amongst working class youth do not necessarily reflect historically generated concerns about indiscipline. Chapter 4 reviews the literature on youthful drinking, and develops an area case study methodology drawing upon feminist and youth culture research. (The relations between social class and sexual divisions are discussed in greater detail in an Annexe). Chapter 5 then employs this methodology, describing a study of the circumstances, culture and drinking practices of boys and girls within central strata of the metropolitan working class, focussing upon their transition from school to employment in the service sector of the labour market, against the general background of social class and sexual divisions in society. 'Service sector youth culture' builds upon the social relations characterising teenage employment in that sector - independence, sociability, temporary sex-equality - and celebrates these relations in the practice of mixed-sex pub round-buying.

Part III outlines a 'general model' for analysing drinking practices, and proposes health and social education involving collective investigation by teenagers of their material circumstances, cultures and practices. The concluding chapter summarises the study's findings in respect of alcohol controls and outlines some avenues for future research into youthful drinking practices.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94314
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 25 April 2022 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: Anthropology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 10 Jul 2023 10:13 UTC
Last Modified: 10 Jul 2023 10:13 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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