Young People and Alcohol Abstention: Youth Cultural Practices and being a Abstainer in Finland and Australia
Internationally, there has been a significant increase in the numbers of young people choosing not to consume alcohol. This is counter to the weight of opinion that positions young people as irresponsible and as engaging in ‘risky’ behaviour. In this context, this article seeks to understand why young people choose not to consume alcohol.
Drawing on original data from interviews conducted with young people between the ages of 18 and 29 in Finland and Australia, this article makes visible the tensions between youth cultural practices and personal decisions around alcohol consumption. The researchers argue that this tension is at the heart of ‘soft stigma’ and it is through various ‘strategies of action’ that the young adults in the study overcame or managed the actual or potential stigma experienced.
Results and conclusion
After analysing the data, six key ways were found in which participants managed the potential stigma and isolation of being a young person who abstains from alcohol: (1) selecting the right response and crowd; (2) taking the focus away from alcohol; (3) having a group or scene of abstainers; (4) being active and having fun; (5) understanding abstaining as an individual choice and control; and (6) moralising alcohol consumption.