Department of Sociology Seminar Series
Whilst there is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic and associated ‘lockdowns’ disrupted traditional patterns of leisure, socialising and alcohol consumption in the UK and more widely, media representations and quantitative insights have presented something of a mixed picture regarding drinking rates and practices during this period.
Whilst we know alcohol consumption was increasingly shifting to domestic spaces before the pandemic, the extended closure of bars, pubs and clubs will have undoubtably impacted considerably on people’s drinking routines and motivations.
This seminar presents insights from a qualitative research project exploring ‘drinking in lockdown’. We focus here specifically on drinking ‘transitions’ to highlight increases, decreases or fluctuations in participants’ alcohol consumption during and shortly after the first lockdown period in England. Whilst drinking increased for some participants and became a coping mechanism or way to carve up time and separate work and leisure, others drew on neoliberalised notions of the ‘enterprising self’ to position lockdown as an opportunity to (re)evaluate their relationship with alcohol or take a break from drinking in a bid to become ‘a better version’ of themselves.
Drawing on a range of narratives and experiences, this seminar highlights nuances and complexities around people’s shifting and at times ambivalent relationships with alcohol during a period of unprecedented social change.