Drinking to the limit: Alcohol, social status and health governance – Københavns Universitet

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08. juli 2014

Drinking to the limit: Alcohol, social status and health governance

The aim of this article is to analyse social status differences in alcohol norms and practices seen from the perspective of ‘health governance’. Survey data on 1442 employees in a middle-sized, Danish firm are used to construct a Bourdieu-inspired social space, tied to four forms of capital: economic, cultural, inherited and organisational. A range of variables measuring alcohol norms, drinking practices and alcohol-related problems are then inserted into the space. This article identifies status differences in the employees’ drinking patterns indicating that respondents with large amounts of economic, cultural and inherited capital are more responsive to alcohol-related health messages than respondents (and especially males) occupying positions low in the social space. This, however, does not mean that respondents from dominant groups have ‘safe’ drinking habits, as these are defined by the Danish National Health Board. Rather, this article identifies a relatively large group of high-positioned respondents balancing at the limits of risky drinking – or transgressing them, if measured by international standards.

Margaretha Järvinen, Christoph Houman Ellersgaard & Anton Grau Larsen: Drinking to the limit: Alcohol, social status and health governance; in Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy; Informa Healthcare; 2014