Youth Drinking Cultures in Aotearoa

Antonia Lyons, Tim McCreanor, Ian Goodwin, Christine Griffin, Fiona Hutton, Helen Moewaka Barnes, (Acushla) Dee O'Carroll, Lina Samu, Patricia Niland, Kerry-Ellen Vroman


Consuming alcohol to intoxication is a commonplace leisure-time activity among young people in Aotearoa New Zealand, producing a formidable suite of harms and consequences that are proving challenging to redress. Youth drinking cultures are similar to those observed in Western Europe, where processes of globalization are increasingly “homogenizing” practice.
The current study employed in-depth qualitative methods to explore micro-cultures of young people’s drinking in three key ethnic groups, namely indigenous Maori, Pasifika (Pacific Island) and Pakeha (European) settlers. 34 focus groups involving 141 men and women aged between 18 and 25 provided rich data that were transcribed and thematically analysed.
Major convergences across ethnic groups were apparent in terms of the importance of alcohol to social life, but major differences were seen in the meanings attached to drinking and intoxication. For Pakeha participants, these were positively naturalised behaviours that were unquestioned. For Maori and Pasifika (particularly female) participants, however, these were seen as more transgressive and problematic, partially due to the scrutiny they face living in Aotearoa. Diverse sub-themes around frequency/degree of intoxication, psychological/social drivers and regulatory, social and interpersonal constraints upon alcohol use, are discussed.
Findings provide new insights into both the detail of youth drinking cultures and within-population cultural specificities that have important implications for policy and public health.


young people; ethnicity; alcohol; drinking cultures

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