Sober rebels or good consumer-citizens? Anti-consumption and the ‘enterprising self’ in early sobriety

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Former drinkers in the UK are required to negotiate sobriety in a society that positions consumption (of alcohol but also more widely) as an important part of identity formation. A refusal to consume risks positioning the self outside of the established neoliberal order, particularly as traditional models of sobriety and ‘recovery’ position the non-drinker as diseased or flawed. As drinking rates decline across Western contexts and new movements celebrating sobriety as a positive ‘lifestyle choice’ proliferate, this paper will highlight ways in which sober women rework elements of traditional recovery models in order to construct an ‘enterprising self’ who remains a good consumer-citizen despite – or indeed because of – their refusal to drink. In doing so, this paper enhances our understandings of the ways in which neoliberal notions of a successful, enterprising self can be incorporated into (re)constructions of the self and identity by ‘anti-consumers’ more widely.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)768-784
Number of pages17
Issue number4
Early online date10 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021

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