Temporary sobriety initiatives: emergence, possibilities and constraints

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Continuum, 2016, 30 (6), pp. 646 - 658
Issue Date:
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© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. At the same time as the Australian media was focusing attention on problems stemming from youthful binge drinking and was decrying a problematic national drinking culture, voluntary (and often philanthropic) campaigns oriented around temporarily giving up alcohol emerged. Although these temporary sobriety initiatives (TSI) originally positioned themselves as a solution to the problems being discussed, their popular appeal proved to be their alignment with larger currents of neoliberal governance in the fields of health, well-being, productivity and civic duty via philanthropy. This critical cultural history conducts a discourse analysis of TSI-generated materials and examines quantitative participant data to better understand how the initiatives framed themselves as a solution to the identified problems at the same time as they ever-more overtly pitched themselves to an already responsibilized segment of the population. The implications of these findings point to the larger role that TSI can play in addressing, in a non-regulatory way, both attitudes and behaviours among the majority of the population who are not considered problem drinkers.
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