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Sustainable Consumption Institute

Understanding stability and change in British drinking using 16 years of market research data

An investigation into how and why British drinking culture is changing.

Logo for Social Practice in Alcohol Research Collaboration

During 2001 to 2016, Britain experienced a historic peak and subsequent steep decline in alcohol use. This was accompanied by licensing reforms, a ban on smoking in pubs, debates about alcohol duty and minimum prices, media focus on ‘Binge Britain’ and ‘Ladette’ culture, and a new generation of young adults noted for their abstemious approach to alcohol. These, together with major macroeconomic and social shifts, are thought to have produced fundamental changes in our drinking culture which are sparsely documented and poorly understood. By combining rich contextual data on drinking occasions, new applications of theories of practice and sophisticated statistical analyses, we aim to address these challenges and provide new insights that are of direct relevance to policy and practice.

Four key questions guide the work:

  • How did drinking occasions and their characteristics change from 2001 to 2016?
  • What explains variation in drinking occasions across population groups, between places and over time?
  • Which macro-level trends in alcohol consumption can occasion-level data help to explain?
  • How did major societal and policy changes between 2001 and 2016 affect drinking occasions?

Alan Warde with colleagues at the University of Sheffield, PI Professor Petra Sylvia Meier.ESRC Research Grant ES/R005257/1 2018-2021.