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Alcohol consumption among 11-16 year olds:"Getting around" structural barriers?
2001-12, Hyde, Abbey, Treacy, Margaret P., Boland, Jennie, Whitaker, Teresa, Abaunza, Pilar Santos, Knox, Barbara
This paper presents qualitative data from Irish children and adolescents on their experiences in relation to alcohol consumption. A sample of 78 participants (average age 11.5 years) was selected. A proportion of this initial sample were interviewed at intervals over a period of 3 years. The participants’ consumption patterns were analyzed and four categories were generated: covert unsanctioned, overt unsanctioned, overt sanctioned, and peer unsanctioned. As the children got older, peer drinking became a stronger feature of the data; however, it mediated other patterns of behavior. Although the children displayed agency in circumventing adult rules relating to alcohol consumption, the participants were subjected to structural constraints by virtue of their status as children. Moreover, the agentic powers of the participants were procured through their social network rather than arising from an essentialist agency possessed by each individual child. The impact of childhood as a structural dimension weakened to some extent as the participants got older and had more freedom to circumvent adult-defined barriers to alcohol consumption.