Identity refusal: Distancing from non-drinking in a drinking culture

Emma Banister, Maria G Piacentini, Anthony Grimes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Following Scott’s recent sociology of nothing, we focus on the process of non-identification, wherein young adults seek to manage the risk of being marked by their non-participation in an important cultural practice. Drawing on qualitative interviews with undergraduate students we develop two overall identity refusal positions (resistance and othering), through which informants seek to disengage with the collective identity of the non-drinker. These positions are underlined by four categories of identity talk: denial and temporal talk (distancing through resistance), and disconnect and concealment talk (distancing through othering), which are used to repudiate non-drinking as culturally and personally meaningful respectively. We contribute understandings of how identities can be performed through active omission, developing Scott’s conceptualization and demonstrating how this can be a potentially planful process, depending on the extent to which individuals credit a particular object or activity with being a ‘something’.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)744-761
Number of pages20
Issue number4
Early online date7 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Abstention, Alcohol, Consumption, Identity, Non-drinkers, Nothing, Omission


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