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Acceptance and expectance: Cultural norms for alcohol use in Denmark

Author(s): Mette Grønkjær | Tine Curtis | Charlotte De Crespigny | Charlotte Delmar

Journal: International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health & Well-Being
ISSN 1748-2623

Volume: 6;
Issue: 4;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Alcohol | cultural norms | social context | heavy alcohol use | focus groups

Alcohol consumption levels in Denmark are high with the risk of increased morbidity and mortality in the population. It is suggested that people's views of “normal” use of alcohol must be the platform for formulating effective alcohol education and prevention strategies. However, little is known about the cultural norms for alcohol use. The aim of this article is to examine the perceptions of cultural norms for alcohol use in Denmark among different age groups and the similarities and differences between the groups, including examining how people construct and negotiate the cultural norms for drinking. Five focus group interviews were conducted with one group per the following age groups: 16–20; 21–34; 35–44; 45–64; and 65–82. These groups consisted of both men and women with five to six participants in each group (a total of 27). Thematic analysis was performed with the aim of developing themes that reflected the cultural norms for alcohol use. The unifying theme of this research was Danish people's acceptance and expectance of social drinking. Alcohol is widely accepted and associated with mutual expectations to drink, leading to identification of cultural influences and facilitation to drink. The social drinking context plays an important role in people's perceptions of the normality of drinking. This includes the selection of particular beverages, and regularly leads to consumption above the recommended levels for low risk to health. This calls for public health attention that promotes low risk drinking in the social context and aims to prevent and reduce serious alcohol-related harm and health problems across the population.
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