University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

British Women's Experiences of Drinking Alcohol: Dynamics of Emotional Proximity and Distance.

Stepney, Melissa (2014) British Women's Experiences of Drinking Alcohol: Dynamics of Emotional Proximity and Distance. Emotion, Space and Society, 10. pp. 105-112. ISSN 1755-4586

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Research on alcohol consumption suggests that friendship and peer relations are highly influential and have a decisive impact on drinking behaviours. Further, that women's friendships appear to be characterised by emotional disclosure and ‘knowing’ one another. In this paper I draw on debates around emotional intimacy, ideas of ‘closeness’ and ‘distance’ to explore how this might work when young women go out and drink alcohol. Drawing on in-depth interviews with 25 British undergraduate female students aged 18–25, this research suggests that one of the compelling appeals of alcohol is that it creates a ‘space of suspension’, whereby feelings of being both close and distant (intimate proximity) coexist, often for strategic reasons associated with security. Two themes emerged from the data: firstly that the young women had a preference for paradoxically maintaining ‘distance’ alongside ‘closeness’ with friends, and secondly, that contingencies of safety and vulnerability promoted the need for co-operation to manage risk in the night-time economy. These themes permeated relationships and became a significant dynamic in group behaviour creating a tension between functionality and friendship. This paper contributes to a growing body of work that suggests intimacy and women's friendships are complex: traditional conceptions about young women seeking intimate and close friendships need revaluating to take into consideration how ‘distance’ within groups is both desirable and negotiated, and may be facilitated through the drinking of alcohol.

Item Type: Article
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Available online 29 June 2013.

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Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: British women, drinking, alcohol, dynamics, emotional proximity, distance, friendship, drunkenness
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: College of Health, Life and Environmental Sciences > School of Science and the Environment
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Melissa Stepney
Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2013 14:22
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2020 17:00

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