The role of alcohol in forging and maintaining friendships amongst Scottish men in midlife

Carol Emslie, Kate Hunt, Antonia Lyons

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    Men drink more heavily and are more likely to die from alcohol-related causes than women. Most alcohol research focuses on young drinkers. We describe the context of men’s drinking in mid-life and explore how alcohol is associated with the construction of masculinities. Qualitative research was used to examine the social context of drinking alcohol. We conducted 15 focus groups (single and mixed sex) with respondents in the west of Scotland, UK. Here, we focus on the findings from 22 men aged 28 to 52 years. Men regarded drinking pints of beer in the pub together as an ‘act of friendship’ and this functioned as a hegemonically appropriate way to communicate with, and support, each other. However, male friends also constructed some non-hegemonic behaviours as forgiveable - and indeed acceptable - while drinking alcohol together. This included practices such as the explicit discussion of emotions and mental health and the consumption of ‘feminine’ drinks under certain circumstances (e.g. in private with close friends).

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)33-41
    Number of pages9
    JournalHealth Psychology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013


    • alcohol
    • friendships
    • male drinkers
    • mid-life


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