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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Social capital as norms and resources: Focus groups discussing alcohol

The aim of this article is to analyse the relationship between peer-group social capital and the use of alcohol among young people – as this relationship is expressed in focus group interviews.

The main point to be made is that social capital affects alcohol use in two different ways: it incites some forms of drinking (‘controlled drunkenness’) while restricting others (drinking alone, drinking ‘for the wrong reason’, losing control often).

Furthermore, the idea behind this article is that social capital is both a background factor influencing participants’ relationship to alcohol and an effect of their drinking experience.

We apply Coleman's micro-oriented perspective on local network mechanisms – with a specific focus on collective norms negotiated in the focus groups – in combination with Bourdieu's definition of social capital as resources.

The data used in this article come from focus group interviews with 18–19-year-old Danes.

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