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Risk perception in young women’s collective alcohol consumption

Emma Dresler (School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing, Massey Business School, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand)
Margaret Anderson (School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing, Massey Business School, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand)

Health Education

ISSN: 0965-4283

Article publication date: 5 June 2017




Heavy episodic drinking in young women has caused concern among many groups including public health professionals. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the experiences of young women’s alcohol consumption so as to facilitate better health education targeting.


This qualitative descriptive study examines the narratives of 16 young women’s experience of a “night out” framed as the Alcohol Consumption Journey.


The young women’s Alcohol Consumption Journey is a ritual perpetuated by the “experienced” and “anticipated” pleasure from social bonding and collective intoxication. The data showed three sequential phases; preloading, going out and recovery, which were repeated regularly. The young women perceived that going out was riskier than preloading or recovery and employed protective strategies to minimise risk and maximise pleasure. Alcohol was consumed collectively to enhance the experience of pleasure and facilitate enjoyment in the atmosphere of the night time economy. Implications for health interventions on collective alcohol consumption and perceived risk are presented.


The concept of socio-pleasure is valuable to explain the perpetuation of the young’s women ritualised Alcohol Consumption Journey. The binary concepts of mundane/celebration, individual/collective and insiders/outsiders are useful to illustrate the balancing of collective intoxication with group protective strategies in navigating the edge between risk and pleasure.



The authors would like to thank the Health Promotion team from MidCentral District Health Board for their assistance with this research. Further thanks are extended to Niklas Dresler and Sarah Pore for assisting the authors with data collection and transcription.


Dresler, E. and Anderson, M. (2017), "Risk perception in young women’s collective alcohol consumption", Health Education, Vol. 117 No. 4, pp. 414-428.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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