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Constructing alcohol identities

The role of Social Network Sites (SNS) in young peoples’ drinking cultures

In recent years, Social Network Sites (SNS) have become an important aspect of young people’s leisure and friendship networks, including peer drinking culture. Thus, the intoxigenic spaces in which young peoples’ drinking practices and related identities are created and performed have now entered online environments (Atkinson et al., 2011; McCreanor et al., 2013; Moreno et al., 2009a, 2009b; Institute of Policy Research, 2013).Within such online spaces young people are exposed to and interact with new forms of innovative online alcohol marketing (Brooks, 2010; Freeman and Chapman, 2008; Mosher, 2012; Nicholls, 2012). An increasing body of international research is emerging which explores young people’s relationship with SNS alcohol marketing and the role of SNS in drinking cultures. However, qualitative research exploring the experiences and perspectives of young people in a UK context is lacking. This research therefore aimed to gain a better understanding of the role and place of Social Networking Sites (SNS) in young people’s drinking culture, and in the construction of alcohol-related identities in a peer group context. The theoretical concept of social, cultural, symbolic and economic capital was applied in order to understand the importance of drinking and alcohol marketing in young peoples’ friendship groups and the significant role of SNS in symbolising valued drinking practices within and between peer groups.