Temporary sobriety initiatives: emergence, possibilities and constraints

Taylor & Francis (Routledge): SSH Titles
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Journal Article
Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies, 2016, 30 (6), pp. 646 - 658
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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, wellbeing, 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 responsibilised 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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