Geographies of alcohol and generation: Examining the decline in youth drinking in England through a spatial lens

Laura Fenton, Hannah Fairbrother, Victoria Whitaker, Madeleine Henney, Abigail Kate Stevely, John Holmes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: While international literature addresses the links between youth culture and the decline in youth drinking, little research has engaged with scholarship on youth geographies to more fully disentangle these links. This article explores how the decline is connected to shifts in where young people access and drink alcohol. Methods: Qualitative interviews were conducted with young people aged 12–19 (N = 96) and 29–35 (N = 17) years in England. The interviews explored the place of alcohol in everyday life, with younger participants discussing the present and older participants discussing their youth in the late 1990s to early 2000s. Data were analysed thematically. Findings: Buying alcohol in shops and licensed premises was a common experience for older participants when they were teenagers but few younger participants discussed buying alcohol from commercial settings. Older participants also reflected positively on drinking in outdoor public spaces whereas younger participants, particularly those from working-class backgrounds, regarded this as morally suspect. Young participants instead accessed alcohol from parents and siblings, and often consumed it in their or others' homes in supervised or moderated ways, seeing this as positive and normative. Discussion and Conclusion: Spatial shifts in young people's drinking away from public spaces and toward the home appear an important part of a wider trend that renders youth drinking as increasingly moderate, risk-averse, incidental and mediated by parents, rather than excessive, transgressive and integral to youth culture.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDrug and Alcohol Review
Early online date4 Jul 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Jul 2023


  • alcohol
  • home
  • public space
  • youth


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