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Alcohol use and misuse: exploring balance and change

McNeill, J. (2011). Alcohol use and misuse: exploring balance and change. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


Abstract: How do professional men experience alcohol?

It is the intention in this thesis to explore professional men’s experiences of alcohol. Twelve professional men aged between forty and fifty who drink at a minimum of one occasion per week were interviewed. Their narratives were then analysed qualitatively using the Grounded Theory approach from a social constructionist perspective.

Six categories emerged from the data including the Core Category: Learning to Maintain the Equilibrium: Experiencing Alcohol through a Process of Maturation. Maintaining the Equilibrium represents the balance between the positive and negative attributes of alcohol, where the individual weighs up the costs and benefits of drinking in the light of experience. Implicit within the core category is the concept of the Tipping Point. Professional men recognise this as representing the significant point where the benefits of alcohol tip over into the costs. Learning is the process that continues throughout the lifespan, and achieving this balance is realised through a process of Maturation. Maturation refers to the process of growing older at the same time as gaining knowledge, insight and wisdom from experience. This core category incorporates the other significant categories. These are as follows: Learning: this represents the on-going process by which individuals learn about alcohol through the early experiences of the family, teenage drinking, past and present drinking occasions; Appraising captures the cognitive processes that individuals employ to evaluate the benefits and disadvantages of drinking; Balancing highlights the decision-making process where participants weigh up the costs and benefits of drinking; Regulating encapsulates participants’ strategies and personal rules which they employ to regulate their alcohol use; and finally Personal Attributes examines the internal and external assets that individuals possess which both motivate and enable professional men to moderate their drinking.

The current literature on alcohol studies is primarily focussed on problem-drinking and gives little insight into normative drinking. Accordingly, it fails to provide a detailed understanding of professional men’s experiences of alcohol and the reinforcing mechanisms which enable professional men to moderate their alcohol use. Therefore, this in-depth qualitative study aims to redress this imbalance.

The findings of this study are discussed in terms of the existing theories on alcohol use and misuse, and can be been to expand on the current research literature on alcohol
and the modifying variables which impact on drinking behaviour.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: © 2011 Jane McNeill
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
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