Alcohol and the Constitution of Friendship for Young Adults
journal contributionposted on 20.12.2021, 06:57 authored by Sarah MacLeanSarah MacLean
MacLean S. Alcohol and the Constitution of Friendship for Young Adults. Sociology. 2016;50(1):93-108. doi:10.1177/0038038514557913
Friendship, sociologists suggest, is defined by institutionalized rules to a lesser degree than other important relationships. Hence it must be sustained through specific friendship-making practices. Social science literature tends to conceptualize friendship as enhancing the pleasures of alcohol use rather than as central to friendship production. This article examines alcohol as a technology in contemporary young adults’ friendship-making. Interviews with 60 drinkers aged 18–24 years in Melbourne, Australia demonstrate that drinking builds intimacy, particularly when similar levels of intoxication are achieved. Fear in night-time entertainment precincts underlines trust in friends. To manage uncertainty about responsibilities involved in friendship, young adults negotiate how they will care for each other when they are drunk. Providing this care occasionally jeopardizes friendship, in different ways for women and men. Understanding the import of friendship-making in alcohol use helps explain the persistence of heavy drinking and suggest opportunities for harm reduction. © 2015, SAGE Publications. All rights reserved.