'That Right Level of Intoxication'

A Grounded Theory Study on Young Adults' Drinking in Nightlife Settings

Published in: Journal of Youth Studies, v. 19, no. 2, Feb. 2016, p. 204-220

Posted on RAND.org on February 11, 2016

by Giovanni Aresi, Eric R. Pedersen

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The present study examined the meaning and functions of drinking across different nightlife settings (e.g., bars, dance clubs) in a sample of Italian young adults. A Grounded Theory recursive and iterative process of data collection, through 10 focus group interviews, and data analysis revealed the complex and dynamic nature of young people's experience of drinking in nightlife settings. Results indicated that three major categories of social nightlife settings associated with different meanings and uses of alcohol: a more moderate social drinking in bars, a pursuit of a desired level of intoxication in dancing settings, like nightclubs, with festivities and celebratory settings most associated with alcohol abuse and heavy drunkenness as a mean to maximize the celebration and the uniqueness of the event. The core category emerging was related to the collective social process of youngsters optimizing alcohol intake throughout the night to find and maintain a desired level of intoxication ('just the right buzz') in dancing settings, to reach a controlled disinhibition to get what they consider positive outcomes minimizing negative ones. Results can be informative for other cultural regions too where differences in the drinking experience across nightlife settings have not been fully addressed yet.

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