Room, R., Greenfield, T., Holmes, J., Kraus, L., Livingston, M., Pennay, A., Törrönen, J.

Supranational changes in drinking patterns: Factors in explanatory models of substantial and parallel social change


Addiction Research & Theory,

Background: That there have been ‘long waves’ of consumption in parallel in different societies has previously been noted. Now there is a sustained drop in drinking among youth in most of Europe, Australia and North America. Can such changes be understood in a common frame? In terms of inexorable historical phenomena or forces, like Kondratieff waves? In terms of generational shifts, with a younger generation reacting against the habits of an older?

Method: Such conceptual models for understanding the dynamics of social change are examined in terms of their potential contribution in explaining when and how substantial changes in levels of consumption occur roughly in concert in different societies, with particular reference to the decline in drinking and heavy drinking in current youth cohorts.

Results and Conclusion: Timing tends to rule out economic change as a factor in the current widespread decline in youth drinking. The technological revolution of the electronic web and the smart phone seems a primary explanation, with the widespread change in social presentation and interaction — in habitus — between parents and children also involved. Directions for further research are suggested.


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