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A new approach to measuring drinking cultures in Britain

When governments propose changes to alcohol policies, the announcement is often followed by public debate on the potential for the policy to change the country’s drinking culture. However, specifying what the drinking culture is, what is problematic about it, what it should be changed to, what interventions might trigger such a change and whether success has been achieved have all been problematic topics in alcohol policy discourse and the research literature.

We aimed to address this by focusing on one key manifestation of a nation’s drinking culture: drinking occasions. We developed typological models of drinking occasions and supplemented these with focus group research in order to gain greater understanding of how occasions relate to drinkers’ broader social and cultural lives.