‘A Big Night Out’: Young People’s Drinking, Social Practice and Spatial Experience in the ‘Liminoid’ Zones of English Night-time Cities
From Urban Studies
The UK has amongst the highest rate of young people aged between 15 and 24 indulging in ‘heavy sessional drinking’ often referred to as ‘binge’ drinking. This paper considers the ‘binge’ drinking debate considering young people within the perspectives of materialism and cultural geography. It investigates spatial variations in youth drinking using a case study approach to examine two urban areas in England. The paper focuses on one aspect of young people’s drinking culture, the ‘big night out’ and its association with sometimes ‘liminoid’ spaces where normal boundaries of behavior can be crossed. The study supports the literature that highlights the positive emotional experiences that young people attest to in their engagement with the complexity of the city at night. While this is not to dismiss the risks to health and public order that excessive alcohol consumption can bring, it poses a challenge for policy-makers who simultaneously may want to support the public celebration of friendship and spontaneous contact with strangers and reduce excessive drinking.
This paper frames the debate on ‘binge’ drinking amongst young people within the perspectives of materialism and cultural geography. Drawing on the concept of social practice as interpreted through the perspective of urban design, the research investigated spatial variations in youth drinking using a case study approach to examine two urban areas in England. The study confirmed that the social practice of the ‘big night out’ has become an established feature of youth drinking. The research found the practice constituted in specialist ‘clusters’ of venues and it is argued that place-based characteristics form a significant component of its production and experience. The paper concludes with a reflection on the challenges the evidence poses to previous interpretations of leisure divisions within mainstream nightlife and to the theorisation of place-based differences in drinking milieux oriented towards young people. The implications for public policies are considered.
Special Issue Article: Geographies of the Urban Night: Marion Roberts
‘A Big Night Out’: Young People’s Drinking, Social Practice and Spatial Experience in the ‘Liminoid’ Zones of English Night-time Cities Urban Studies 0042098013504005 , first published on September 17, 2013 doi:10.1177/ 0042098013504005