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How do older people normalise their drinking? An analysis of interviewee accounts

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DateAccepted/In press - 9 Nov 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print - 18 Nov 2019
DatePublished (current) - 1 Mar 2020
Number of pages8
Early online date18/11/19
Original languageEnglish


Alcohol consumption has been linked to a wide range of social and health problems, and it is known that drinking among older age groups has been increasing. Relatively little qualitative research has examined how older drinkers make sense of their drinking practices, including how they seek to normalise their consumption when talking about it. This paper reports on a qualitative interview study with older drinkers (n = 25; aged 41-89), focusing on the various discursive strategies they use to rationalise their drinking. Discursive analysis of the interview transcripts highlights four key approaches used: strategic vagueness; reinforcing responsible restraint; self-serving comparisons; and downplaying drinking as mundane practice. Taken together, the efforts made to convey drinking in moderation suggest a concern among interviewees with being regarded as a good citizen, in control of their consumption and their lives generally. Some possible implications for health promotion, and ideas for further research, are discussed.

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